Why should I use scikit-build ?

Scikit-build is a replacement for distutils.core.Extension with the following advantages:


Basic usage

To use scikit-build in a project, place the following in your project’s setup.py file:

# This line replaces 'from setuptools import setup'
from skbuild import setup

Your project now uses scikit-build instead of setuptools.

Next, add a CMakeLists.txt


To be documented.

Setup options

Scikit-build augments the setup() function with the following options:

For example:

  • cmake_install_dir: relative directory where the CMake artifacts are installed. By default, it is set to an empty string.
  • cmake_source_dir: Relative directory containing the project CMakeLists.txt. By default, it is set to the top-level directory where setup.py is found.

New in version 0.5.0.

  • cmake_with_sdist: Boolean indicating if CMake should be executed when running sdist command. Setting this option to True is useful when part of the sources specified in MANIFEST.in are downloaded by CMake. By default, this option is False.

New in version 0.7.0.

  • cmake_languages: Tuple of languages that the project use, by default (‘C’, ‘CXX’,). This option ensures that a generator is chosen that supports all languages for the project.

Command line options

usage: setup.py [global_opts] cmd1 [cmd1_opts] [cmd2 [cmd2_opts] ...] [skbuild_opts] [-- [cmake_opts] [-- [build_tool_opts]]]
or: setup.py --help [cmd1 cmd2 ...]
or: setup.py --help-commands
or: setup.py cmd --help

There are four types of options:

  • setuptools options:
    • [global_opts] cmd1 [cmd1_opts] [cmd2 [cmd2_opts] ...]
    • --help [cmd1 cmd2 ...]
    • cmd --help
  • scikit-build options: [skbuild_opts]
  • CMake options: [cmake_opts]
  • build tool options :[build_tool_opts]

setuptools and scikit-build options can be passed normally, the cmake and build_tool set of options needs to be separated by --:

Arguments following a "--" are passed directly to CMake (e.g. -DMY_VAR:BOOL=TRUE).
Arguments following a second "--" are passed directly to  the build tool.

setuptools options

For more details, see the official documentation.

scikit-build extends the global set of setuptools options with:

New in version 0.4.0.

Global options:
  --hide-listing      do not display list of files being included in the

New in version 0.5.0.

Global options:
  --force-cmake       always run CMake
  --skip-cmake        do not run CMake

scikit-build options

scikit-build options:
  --build-type       specify the CMake build type (e.g. Debug or Release)
  -G , --generator   specify the CMake build system generator
  -j N               allow N build jobs at once

CMake options

These are specific to CMake. See list of CMake options.

For example:


build tool options

These are specific to the underlying build tool (e.g msbuild.exe, make, ninja).


See CMake Toolchains.

Introduction to dockross


To be documented. See #227.

Using dockcross-manylinux to generate Linux wheels


To be documented. See #227.

Using dockcross-mingwpy to generate Windows wheels


To be documented. See #227.

Examples for scikit-build developers


To be documented. See #227.

Provide small, self-contained setup function calls for (at least) two use cases:

  • when a CMakeLists.txt file already exists
  • when a user wants scikit-build to create a CMakeLists.txt file based on the user specifying some input files.