Python module to reduce a cmake file to an AST
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cmake-ast has been tested against every single CMake module that ships with recent versions of CMake. These tests also run in the continuous integration environment on each build. It supports multi-line strings and other corner cases.


Import cmakeast and ASTify the contents of a cmake file with cmakeast.ast.parse(contents). You can also pass it a list of tokens obtained by tokenization with the tokens keyword argument. The return will be a toplevel node, with node descriptions as follows:


  • (One) Type type: Variable | String | Number | CompoundLiteral | VariableDereference
  • (One) String contents


  • (Many) (FunctionCall, IfStatement, ForeachStatement, WhileStatement)


  • (One) Word name
  • (Many) Word arguments


  • (One) FunctionCall header
  • (One) Body body
  • (One) FunctionCall footer


  • (One) FunctionCall header
  • (One) Body body
  • (One) FunctionCall footer


  • (One) FunctionCall header
  • (One) Body body


  • (One) FunctionCall header
  • (One) Body body


  • (One) FunctionCall header
  • (One) Body body


  • (One) IfStatement if_statement
  • (Many) ElseIfStatement else_ifs
  • (One Optional) ElseStatement else_statement
  • (One) FunctionCall footer


  • (One) FunctionCall foreach_function
  • (One) Body body
  • (One) FunctionCall footer


  • (One) FunctionCall while_function
  • (One) Body body
  • (One) FunctionCall footer

Each node also has a line and col member to indicate where it can be found in the source file.

Word type aliases are stored in WordType inside ast.

Traversing the AST

CMake-AST provides a helper module ast_visitor to make traversing the AST less verbose. It will traverse every single node by default. Listeners matching the signature def handler (name, node, depth) can be passed as the following keyword arguments to recurse (body, **kwargs):

Keyword Handles Node Type
toplevel ToplevelBody
while_stmnt WhileStatement
foreach ForeachStatement
function_def FunctionDefinition
macro_def MacroDefinition
if_block IfBlock
if_stmnt IfStatement
elseif_stmnt ElseIfStatement
else_stmnt ElseStatement
function_call FunctionCall
word Word

Dumping the AST of a CMake file

If you wish to dump the AST of a cmake file, the cmake-print-ast tool is also provided. Pass a single filename to dump the AST of to it on the command line


To get an even lower level representation, use cmakeast.ast.tokenize(contents) which divides the file only into tokens. Aliases are stored in the TokenType class in ast. Tokens correspond as follows:

Token Type Description
QuotedLiteral Something in quotes
LeftParen (
RightParen )
Word Alphanumeric Sequence
Number Numeric-Only Sequence
Deref Alphanumeric Sequence inside ${}
RST Documentation Comment
Comment Comment
UnquotedLiteral Any character sequence, punctuation included