Node.js native addon build tool
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Latest commit bac9e44 Aug 8, 2018

node-gyp - Node.js native addon build tool

node-gyp is a cross-platform command-line tool written in Node.js for compiling native addon modules for Node.js. It bundles the gyp project used by the Chromium team and takes away the pain of dealing with the various differences in build platforms.

Multiple target versions of Node.js are supported (i.e. 0.8, ..., 4, 5, 6, etc.), regardless of what version of Node.js is actually installed on your system (node-gyp downloads the necessary development files or headers for the target version).


  • Easy to use, consistent interface
  • Same commands to build your module on every platform
  • Supports multiple target versions of Node.js


You can install with npm:

$ npm install -g node-gyp

You will also need to install:

On Unix

  • python (v2.7 recommended, v3.x.x is not supported)
  • make
  • A proper C/C++ compiler toolchain, like GCC

On macOS

  • python (v2.7 recommended, v3.x.x is not supported) (already installed on macOS)
  • Xcode
    • You also need to install the Command Line Tools via Xcode. You can find this under the menu Xcode -> Preferences -> Locations (or by running xcode-select --install in your Terminal)
      • This step will install gcc and the related toolchain containing make

On Windows

Option 1

Install all the required tools and configurations using Microsoft's windows-build-tools using npm install --global --production windows-build-tools from an elevated PowerShell or CMD.exe (run as Administrator).

Option 2

Install tools and configuration manually:

  • Install Visual C++ Build Environment: Visual Studio Build Tools (using "Visual C++ build tools" workload) or Visual Studio 2017 Community (using the "Desktop development with C++" workload)
  • Install Python 2.7 (v3.x.x is not supported), and run npm config set python python2.7 (or see below for further instructions on specifying the proper Python version and path.)
  • Launch cmd, npm config set msvs_version 2017

If the above steps didn't work for you, please visit Microsoft's Node.js Guidelines for Windows for additional tips.

If you have multiple Python versions installed, you can identify which Python version node-gyp uses by setting the '--python' variable:

$ node-gyp --python /path/to/python2.7

If node-gyp is called by way of npm, and you have multiple versions of Python installed, then you can set npm's 'python' config key to the appropriate value:

$ npm config set python /path/to/executable/python2.7

How to Use

To compile your native addon, first go to its root directory:

$ cd my_node_addon

The next step is to generate the appropriate project build files for the current platform. Use configure for that:

$ node-gyp configure

Auto-detection fails for Visual C++ Build Tools 2015, so --msvs_version=2015 needs to be added (not needed when run by npm as configured above):

$ node-gyp configure --msvs_version=2015

Note: The configure step looks for a binding.gyp file in the current directory to process. See below for instructions on creating a binding.gyp file.

Now you will have either a Makefile (on Unix platforms) or a vcxproj file (on Windows) in the build/ directory. Next, invoke the build command:

$ node-gyp build

Now you have your compiled .node bindings file! The compiled bindings end up in build/Debug/ or build/Release/, depending on the build mode. At this point, you can require the .node file with Node.js and run your tests!

Note: To create a Debug build of the bindings file, pass the --debug (or -d) switch when running either the configure, build or rebuild commands.

The binding.gyp file

A binding.gyp file describes the configuration to build your module, in a JSON-like format. This file gets placed in the root of your package, alongside package.json.

A barebones gyp file appropriate for building a Node.js addon could look like:

  "targets": [
      "target_name": "binding",
      "sources": [ "src/" ]

Some additional resources for addons and writing gyp files:


node-gyp responds to the following commands:

Command Description
help Shows the help dialog
build Invokes make/msbuild.exe and builds the native addon
clean Removes the build directory if it exists
configure Generates project build files for the current platform
rebuild Runs clean, configure and build all in a row
install Installs Node.js header files for the given version
list Lists the currently installed Node.js header versions
remove Removes the Node.js header files for the given version

Command Options

node-gyp accepts the following command options:

Command Description
-j n, --jobs n Run make in parallel
--target=v6.2.1 Node.js version to build for (default is process.version)
--silly, --loglevel=silly Log all progress to console
--verbose, --loglevel=verbose Log most progress to console
--silent, --loglevel=silent Don't log anything to console
debug, --debug Make Debug build (default is Release)
--release, --no-debug Make Release build
-C $dir, --directory=$dir Run command in different directory
--make=$make Override make command (e.g. gmake)
--thin=yes Enable thin static libraries
--arch=$arch Set target architecture (e.g. ia32)
--tarball=$path Get headers from a local tarball
--devdir=$path SDK download directory (default is ~/.node-gyp)
--ensure Don't reinstall headers if already present
--dist-url=$url Download header tarball from custom URL
--proxy=$url Set HTTP proxy for downloading header tarball
--cafile=$cafile Override default CA chain (to download tarball)
--nodedir=$path Set the path to the node source code
--python=$path Set path to the Python 2 binary
--msvs_version=$version Set Visual Studio version (Windows only)
--solution=$solution Set Visual Studio Solution version (Windows only)


Environment variables

Use the form npm_config_OPTION_NAME for any of the command options listed above (dashes in option names should be replaced by underscores).

For example, to set devdir equal to /tmp/.gyp, you would:

Run this on Unix:

$ export npm_config_devdir=/tmp/.gyp

Or this on Windows:

> set npm_config_devdir=c:\temp\.gyp

npm configuration

Use the form OPTION_NAME for any of the command options listed above.

For example, to set devdir equal to /tmp/.gyp, you would run:

$ npm config set [--global] devdir /tmp/.gyp

Note: Configuration set via npm will only be used when node-gyp is run via npm, not when node-gyp is run directly.


node-gyp is available under the MIT license. See the LICENSE file for details.