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SourceWeb is a source code indexer and code navigation tool for C/C++ code.


SourceWeb currently runs on Linux and OS X.


SourceWeb is written in C++11. The indexer links against Clang's C++ API. Clang's C++ APIs are not compatible between releases, so this version of SourceWeb requires exactly Clang 4.0. The GUI uses Qt 4.6 or later. Follow the build instructions to satisfy these dependencies.

Building on Linux

Install prerequisite packages:


sudo apt-get install make g++ libqt4-dev zlib1g-dev libncurses5-dev \
                     libclang-3.8-dev llvm-3.8-dev


sudo yum install make gcc-c++ qt-devel zlib-devel ncurses-devel

If your distribution doesn't have a Clang package (of the right version), you can try looking for a prebuilt binary package on If there isn't one, you will have to compile from source. You will also need to pass --with-clang-dir to SourceWeb's configure script.

Build the software:

mkdir build
cd build
../configure [--with-clang-dir <path-to-clang-dir>]
make -j4
sudo make install

Building on OS X

SourceWeb is tested with OS X 10.10, but is likely to work with some older versions. It will not work with OS X 10.6, because OS X 10.6 lacks libc++, necessary for C++11. Satisfy the prerequisites:

  1. Install Xcode.

  2. Install the Command Line Tools. Run xcode-select --install at the command-line.

  3. Install Qt. Qt 5 from should work, but Qt 4 or Qt from other sources (e.g. HomeBrew/MacPorts) might also work.

  4. Install the Clang library set somewhere on your system. The easiest way to do this is to download the official prebuilt binaries.

Configure and build SourceWeb:

mkdir build
cd build
../configure --with-clang-dir <path-to-clang-dir> \
             [--with-qmake <path-to-qt5>/<qt5ver>/clang_64/bin/qmake]
make -j4
make install

Configuration notes

The Clang directory (e.g. $HOME/clang+llvm-3.X.Y-x86_64-linux-gnu) is embedded into the SourceWeb build output, so it must not be moved later.

The configure script is a wrapper around qmake, which is SourceWeb's build tool. The configure script supports out-of-tree builds (like qmake) and allows configuring the install path at configure-time via --prefix (unlike qmake).


Opening a C/C++ project with SourceWeb is a three-step process:

  1. Create a JSON compilation database (i.e. compile_commands.json).

  2. Run the sw-clang-indexer on the database to generate an index file.

  3. Open the index file in the sourceweb GUI program.

JSON compilation database

The JSON compilation database is a file specifying the command-line for every compilation of a translation unit into an object file. It was first introduced by the CMake project. Clang has a page describing the format.


    "directory": "/home/user/foo-build",         # current working directory
    "command": "g++ -c -o file.o ../foo/file.c -DMACRO -I/home/user/bar",
    "file": "/home/user/foo/file.c"

To index a project using CMake, invoke cmake with the -DCMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS=ON command-line option, which will direct CMake to output a compile_commands.json file.


For projects that do not use CMake, the btrace tool included in this project can be used to create a compile_commands.json file. btrace is a tool that captures a trace of all executed commands using an LD_PRELOAD library, then converts the execution trace into a compile_commands.json file.

To use the tool, first collect a trace by prepending sw-btrace to the command that builds the software (e.g. make). sw-btrace will load into each subprocess, and when this library is loaded, it will log that subprocess' command-line (and other details) to a btrace.log file in the working directory of the root sw-btrace process. Once all commands are logged, run sw-btrace-to-compiledb to create a compile_commands.json file from the btrace.log file. This script may need some customization (e.g. to recognize unusual compiler executable names).

btrace is compatible with ccache, but it has not been tested with distcc.

btrace works on Linux, OS X, and FreeBSD. On FreeBSD, however, the default cc and gcc executables might be statically linked, limiting btrace's usefulness.

Indexing step

Run sw-clang-indexer --index-project to index the source code. It will look for a compile_commands.json file in the working directory and write an index file to the working directory. This step takes approximately as long as compiling the code.

Starting the GUI

Run sourceweb passing it the path to an index file. On OS X, run the Contents/MacOS/sourceweb binary; opening the bundle does not work.


The demo/ script demonstrates use of the sw-btrace, sw-clang-indexer, and sourceweb commands on bigint, a small C++ library.


The project is licensed under the BSD. The Git repository embeds third-party components under various permissive licenses.