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Sharpmake

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Introduction

Sharpmake is a generator for Visual Studio projects and solutions. It is similar to CMake and Premake, but it is designed for speed and scale. Sharpmake has been used at Ubisoft to generate several thousands of .vcxproj, .csproj and .sln files in a matter of seconds, and each of these projects can support a large number of Visual Studio configurations as well.

That makes Sharpmake ideal for the development of multi-platform games, where the number of platforms, the different levels of optimization, the multiple rendering APIs on PC and the level editor can quickly multiply the number of configurations a given code base must support. Sharpmake generates all those configurations at once, very quickly. Thus, it becomes trivial to generate and regenerate the entire project.

Sharpmake uses the C# language for its scripts, hence the name. That means you can edit your scripts in Visual Studio (or Visual Studio Code) and benefits from the default C# tooling (auto-completion, refactoring, debugger...).

Sharpmake can also generate makefiles and Xcode projects and can be run "natively" on any modern OSes that support recent version of the dotnet runtime.

Sharpmake was developed internally at Ubisoft for Assassin's Creed 3 in 2011. After experimenting with the other existing tools, it became clear that none of these solutions were performant enough to generate the number of configurations needed (at least not in a trivial way) and that a custom generator was needed.

Documentation

The Sharpmake documentation is split in two places:

The Sharpmake source code also comes with samples that you can study.

Building and running Sharpmake

Building and running Sharpmake is quite straightforward:

  • Clone the Git repository
  • Open the Sharpmake.sln solution located in the root folder
  • If you want to debug Sharpmake using a sample:
    1. Set the Samples project as the Startup Project
    2. Choose from the dropdown list which sample you want to run
  • If you want to debug Sharpmake using a functional test:
    1. Set the Sharpmake.FunctionalTests project as the Startup Project
    2. Choose from the dropdown list which functional test you want to run

More Platforms

Sharpmake originally had support for game consoles, but Ubisoft pulled it out because those could not be open sourced. Sharpmake now has an extension system that allows support for these consoles to be added back at runtime.

More information about platforms can be found here.

Extending Sharpmake

Sharpmake is an open source project that come with some generic built-in features.

But as soon as we start speaking about additional features restricted by NDA (like for platforms), or for internal use only, it is handy to have a way to extend it.

The recommended solution is to follow this folder layout:

SharpmakeExtended:
 - ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake
 - ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake.Platforms
 - ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake.Extensions
 -    Directory.build.props
 -    SharpmakeExtended.sln
  1. ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake

The Sharpmake folder contains all the files of this Git repository.

We commonly call it Sharpmake core.

If you plan to version your SharpmakeExtended project under Git, you can use a Git submodule to pull on it directly.

  1. ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake.Platforms (and ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake.Extensions)

Platforms vs. Extensions: there is no difference between them, these two folders are only used to tidy/split things a little.

These two locations are where you can add any additional platforms (or extensions) in their own dedicated folder:

๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake.Platforms
 - ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake.Platform_A
      - *.cs
      - Sharpmake.Platform_A.csproj
 - ๐Ÿ“ Sharpmake.Platform_B
      - *.cs
      - Sharpmake.Platform_B.csproj

Sharpmake.Application.csproj (from Sharpmake core), automatically adds .csproj from these folders to its dependency list. This means they will automatically be built and copied to its output folder, and simply hitting the "Start Debugging" button will just work.

  1. Directory.build.props

This file is used automatically by your .csproj from your platforms and extensions folders.

We recommend to - at least - import the same file from the Sharpmake core folder to re-use the same basic setup (target framework...). You can also customize/override any option after the import.

<Project>
  <!-- Rely on Sharpmake build setup -->
  <Import Project="Sharpmake/Directory.Build.props" />

  <!-- Add customization/override here -->
  <!-- ... -->
</Project>
  1. SharpmakeExtended.sln

This solution is only to ease development for humans. It allows to have in a single IDE all the projects from both Sharpmake core and the extended ones.

About

Sharpmake is an open-source C#-based solution for generating project definition files, such as Visual Studio projects and solutions, GNU makefiles, Xcode projects, etc.

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