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Using OpenDDS in a CMake Project

OpenDDS can be used with CMake-Based projects by using the OpenDDS CMake Config package (located here). This package bridges the gap between the MPC build system used by OpenDDS and CMake-Based projects by exposing OpenDDS CMake targets (see comments here), and by providing the OPENDDS_TARGET_SOURCES macro which simplifies IDL compilation.


In order to use the Config module, CMake version 3.3.2 or greater is required. However, to run the Messenger examples, version 3.8.2 or greater is required (due to some dependencies which simplify the custom file-copy targets).

CMake Messenger Examples

Included with OpenDDS are two example CMake-Based Messenger applications which exist to showcase two different strategies for adding IDL files:

  1. Messenger with direct IDL inclusion
  2. Messenger with auxiliary IDL library

The first scenario adds the IDL file directly into each executable so the generated headers/sources are added to the publisher/subscriber targets independently.

The second scenario creates a library which has the IDL-generated headers/sources) added to it. The publisher and subscriber executables then link against the library to use the IDL-generated code.

Configure-Generated Variables

The configure script ($DDS_ROOT/configure) is responsible for generating the config.cmake file (placed in $DDS_ROOT/cmake), which has various configuration options. These options provide the OpenDDS CMake package with the required context it needs to integrate with the OpenDDS code generators and libraries.

Note: With an installed version of OpenDDS (generated using make install), config.cmake will be placed in /path/to/install-prefix-dir/lib/cmake/OpenDDS. This location allows CMake to locate the file using CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH.

Not all of the variables in this file are used. They are procedurally generated from variables in the configure script. However, to get a better sense of how they are being used take a look at the options.cmake file. This is where various CMake C/C++ compile-time defines and IDL-Compiler flags are set/unset depending upon which variables are enabled/disabled.

If you are using OpenDDS libraries that were built without the help of the configure script, the config.cmake file needs to be created manually. See Manually Creating config.cmake in the advanced section below.

Using the OpenDDS CMake Package

The OpenDDS CMake package is based upon the standard CMake packaging guidelines, so the typical generate/compile steps only require setting the CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH and calling find_package(OpenDDS) within a CMakeLists.txt file. In addition, the following cache variables/options can be used to control the behavior of the OpenDDS CMake package.

Cache Variables/Options Understood by OpenDDS

Cache Variable Description
OPENDDS_CMAKE_VERBOSE Print detailed status information at CMake-Generation time

Example Using OpenDDS Source Tree

When using the CMake Package, the OpenDDS build environment variables (from or setenv.cmd) do not need to be set. CMake's varaible CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH needs to include the top directory of OpenDDS's source tree, that is the directory known as DDS_ROOT when OpenDDS was compiled.

To generate/compile the Messenger with direct IDL inclusion within the OpenDDS source tree:


cd tests/cmake_integration/Messenger/Messenger_1
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=<location of OpenDDS source tree> ..
cmake --build .


The following assumes Visual Studio 2017 using 64-bit architecture (adjust the CMake -G parameter if using something different).

cd tests\cmake_integration\Messenger\Messenger_1
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=<location of OpenDDS source tree> -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" ..
cmake --build .

Example Using Installed OpenDDS (Unix only)

The --prefix switch can be passed to configure to enable the install target, which will install OpenDDS (including the OpenDDS CMake Config module) into the specified directory. See the INSTALL document for details.

Note: Be sure to pass an absolute path to --prefix.

Here is an example of: configure, compile, install, and generate/compile the Messenger_1 example from outside the source tree

cd OpenDDS-src
./configure --prefix=$DDS_WORKSPACE/opendds-install
make install
cp -ar tests/cmake_integration/Messenger ..
cd ../Messenger/Messenger_1
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=$DDS_WORKSPACE/opendds-install ..
cmake --build .

Note: While this will build the Messenger_1 example, the script will not work due to missing Perl dependencies.


Aside from importing the various OpenDDS targets, the OpenDDS Config Package provides an easy way to add IDL sources to CMake targets. This is achieved by the OPENDDS_TARGET_SOURCES macro, which behaves similarly to the built-in target_sources command except for the following:

  • Items can be either C/C++ sources or IDL sources.
  • The scope-qualifier (PUBLIC, PRIVATE, INTERFACE) is not required. When it is omitted, PRIVATE is used by default.
  • Command-line options can be supplied to the TAO/OpenDDS IDL compilers using TAO_IDL_OPTIONS and/or OPENDDS_IDL_OPTIONS (if the default behavior is not suitable).

When IDL sources are supplied, custom commands are generated which will be invoked to compile the IDL sources into their component cpp/h files.

If the passed-in target is a shared library, a custom command will also be added to generate the required IDL export header file (target_export.h), which is necessary to properly export symbols for the IDL-Generated sources.

Usage Summary

  [TAO_IDL_OPTIONS options...]
  [OPENDDS_IDL_OPTIONS options...])


Taken from the Messenger with direct IDL inclusion, here is a snippet showing how IDL files can be added directly to executable targets using the OPENDDS_TARGET_SOURCES macro:


Another snippet, based upon Messenger with auxiliary IDL library, showcases how an auxiliary IDL library can be created for inclusion by other executables:

OPENDDS_TARGET_SOURCES(messenger ${src}/Messenger.idl)


target_link_libraries(publisher messenger OpenDDS::OpenDDS)

Note: This may issue a warning in earlier version of CMake due to the messenger library not having any sources added with it in the call to add_library.

Advanced Usage

Manually Creating config.cmake

In order to work with config.cmake it is important to understand the purpose of its contained variables. Below is a list of the important variables with some information on their purpose.

Optional OpenDDS Features

When OpenDDS is built using the MPC build-system and optional features are specified, various C/C++; tao_idl; and opendds_idl compiler macros are set on dependent libraries or executables. These defines are set by MPC using the dcps_optional_features.mpb file.

CMake-Based targets must also inherit the defined macros, so the functionality in dcps_optional_features.mpb is simulated using options.cmake and its associated config.cmake. As such, if features are enabled/disabled when compiling OpenDDS then it is paramount that the MPC features are also matched within config.cmake prior to compilation.

This table outlines the feature-related variables and their expected default values (generated when the configure script is run without arguments). If any feature is explicitly enabled/disabled in the OpenDDS build then the corresponding CMake variable below should be set to either ON or OFF depending on the desired state.

CMake Variable Notes (from configure script output) Default
OPENDDS_CONTENT_SUBSCRIPTION Content-Subscription Profile. When this is set to OFF then CONTENT_FILTERED_TOPIC, MULTI_TOPIC, and QUERY_CONDITION will also be set to OFF. See the OpenDDS Dev Guide ch. 5 for info. ON
OPENDDS_OWNERSHIP_KIND_EXCLUSIVE Exclusive Ownership (Ownership Profile) ON
OPENDDS_OWNERSHIP_PROFILE Ownership Profile. When this is set to OFF then OWNERSHIP_KIND_EXCLUSIVE will also be set to OFF. ON

Build-Related Options

The following values impact the build in one way or another.

CMake Variable Notes Default
OPENDDS_ACE Location of ACE root dir. N/A
OPENDDS_TAO Location of TAO root dir. N/A
OPENDDS_STD Forces C++ standard (Unix only). This option is used as a way for the configure script to inform CMake builds of the C/C++ standard used to build OpenDDS. To prevent weirdness, the C/C++ standards should match. The typical GCC -std values are supported. Existing CMAKE_CXX_STANDARD value.
OPENDDS_NO_DEBUG Sets NDEBUG flags on ACE for non-debug builds (Unix only) OFF
OPENDDS_INLINE ACE's inline build flag See below
OPENDDS_STATIC Use static libraries OFF
OPENDDS_XERCES3 Adds dependencies to targets; required when OPENDDS_SECURITY is ON OFF
OPENDDS_FEATURES Semicolon-Separated list of additional features which impact the build. Currently supported are versioned_namespace=1 (see this document) and uses_wchar=1 for wide-character support. N/A

OPENDDS_INLINE should be explicitly set to ON or OFF (based on the ACE platform_macros.GNU variable inline) in config.cmake unless you will only be using a CMake Microsoft Visual Studio Generator.