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cpputils-cmake.el v0.5.8

Perfect syntax check (Flymake) and code-completion if you use CMake.

cpputils-cmake does all the dirty setup automatically for following plugins and commands,

Please note cpputils-cmake is independent on those plugins. Only CMake is required.

Tested at Emacs 23.4, 24.3, 24.4


Easy way

cpputils-cmake is available at

The best way is using Emacs package manager.

Manual way

Download and place cpputils-cmake.el somewhere (say ~/.emacs/lisp), add below code into your .emacs:

(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/lisp/")
(require 'cpputils-cmake)


Insert below code into your .emacs:

(add-hook 'c-mode-common-hook
          (lambda ()
            (if (derived-mode-p 'c-mode 'c++-mode)
;; OPTIONAL, somebody reported that they can use this package with Fortran
(add-hook 'c90-mode-hook (lambda () (cppcm-reload-all)))
;; OPTIONAL, avoid typing full path when starting gdb
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c C-g")
 '(lambda ()(interactive) (gud-gdb (concat "gdb --fullname " (cppcm-get-exe-path-current-buffer)))))
;; OPTIONAL, some users need specify extra flags forwarded to compiler
(setq cppcm-extra-preprocss-flags-from-user '("-I/usr/src/linux/include" "-DNDEBUG"))

Quick start:

  • Step 1, The build directory should have the same name as value of cppcm-build-dirname. It is “build” by default. Make sure the build is located somewhere in the directory hierarchy from C++ file
  • Step 2, Go to build directory to run cmake and make at least once. The compile should be successful!

If your project don’t use default path from CMake, check the section “Customize target path” in FAQ for the solution.


Let’s start by creating a “hello world” C++ project:

mkdir -p hello/src;printf "#include <stdio.h>\nint main(void) {\nprintf(\"hello world\");\nreturn 0;\n}" > hello/src/main.cpp;printf "cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 2.6)\nadd_executable(main main.cpp)" > hello/src/CMakeLists.txt



M-x compile

You can also `M-x cppcm-compile` to compile the current excutable only.


Press hotkey `C-c C-g` (I suppose you’ve copied my setup).

gud-gdb starts and the binary “~/your-projects-blah-blah/hello/build/main” is loaded automatically.


You also need install auto-complete-clang.



Open header file

Press the hotkey `C-x C-o` or `M-x ff-find-other-file`. The corresponding header is opened.


Avoid scanning system header files

Scanning is light weight enough so below code is optional:

(add-hook 'c-mode-common-hook
          (lambda ()
            (if (derived-mode-p 'c-mode 'c++-mode)
                (if  (not (or (string-match "^/usr/local/include/.*" buffer-file-name)
                              (string-match "^/usr/src/linux/include/.*" buffer-file-name)))

Get executable’s full path

The command “cppcm-get-exe-path-current-buffer” will copy current executable into kill ring AND OS clipboard.

You need install `xsel` under Linux to support OS clipboard.

This could be useful if you need access the executable’s directory.

You can yank (paste) the full path to eshell or minibuffer and press “M-backspace” to get the directory name.

Reload cpputils-cmake

You can always `M-x cppcm-reload-all` any time in C/C++ files.

There is also `cppcm-reload-all-hook` which will be called after `cppcm-reload-all`. This give you a chance to tweak or override the setup if and only if you are Emacs Lisp expert. Most users don’t need tweak these global variables.

Here is the list of global variables third party plugins use:

variable nameplugin

Compile only current target

“M-x cppcm-compile”.

Please press “C-h v cppcm-compile-list” for other compile options.

Make clean && make

“M-x cppcm-recompile”

Customize target path

For example, if the CMakeLists.txt contains something like this:


cpputils-cmake cannot find the target (executable or library).

It will then call the variable cppcm-get-executable-full-path-callback which could be a function object.

Here is a sample:

(setq cppcm-get-executable-full-path-callback
      (lambda (path type tgt-name)
        ;; path is the supposed-to-be target's full path
        ;; type is either add_executabe or add_library
        ;; tgt-name is the target to built. The target's file extension is stripped
        (message "cppcm-get-executable-full-path-callback called => %s %s %s" path type tgt-name)
        (let* ((dir (file-name-directory path))
               (file (file-name-nondirectory path)))
           ((string= type "add_executable")
            (setq path (concat dir "bin/" file)))
           ;; for add_library
           (t (setq path (concat dir "lib/" file)))
        ;; return the new path
        (message "cppcm-get-executable-full-path-callback called => path=%s" path)

You can insert above code into ~/.emacs!

Macro and included cmake file

cpputils-cmake assumes that CMakeLists.txt contains a rule to create executable.

*The rule is either “add_executable” or “add_library”*.

Included file and macro in CMakeLists.txt will be ignored.

A sample CMakeLists.txt we can handle:

set(VAR2 "a2")
set(VAR1 a1-${VAR2})
set(TGT hello-${PROJECT_NAME}-${VAR1}")
add_executable(${TGT} ${SOURCES})

The executable’s name will be “hello-proj1-a1-a2”.

Stop creating Makefiles for flymake

Insert below code into ~/.emacs:

(setq cppcm-write-flymake-makefile nil)


Bug Report


Here is the steps to send bug report:

  • open cpp file in your real project
  • `M-x eval-expression`
  • paste (setq cppcm-debug t) into mini-buffer and press ENTER
  • `M-x cppcm-reload-all` and send me the output in Message buffer
  • `C-h v cppcm-hash` and send me the output
  • `M-x cppcm-version` and send the output

Besides, I still need general environment information like Emacs version and OS version.


Copyright (C) 2012 Chen Bin

Author: Chen Bin <chenbin DOT sh AT gmail DOT com> Keywords: flymake IntelliSense cmake

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see


Easy real time C++ syntax check and intellisense if you use CMake



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