Really Cool CMake Features

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CMake is a mature tool with many features, both big and small. Many go unnoticed or are taken for granted. Help us create a comprehensive list of features that make CMake really cool. Please list your addition under the appropriate package: CMake, CTest, or CPack.

CMake Features

  • Color output for make
  • Progress output for make
  • Incremental linking support with vs 8,9 and manifests
  • Supports out-of-tree builds
  • Auto-rerun of cmake if any cmake input files change (works with vs 8, 9 using ide macros)
  • Auto depend information for C++, C, and Fortran
    • Graphviz output for visualizing dependency trees
  • Full support for library versions
  • Full cross platform install system
  • Generate project files for major IDEs: Visual Studio, Xcode, Eclipse, KDevelop
    • not tied to make, other portable generators like ant possible
  • Ability to add custom rules and targets
  • Compute link depend information, and chaining of dependent libraries
  • Works with parallel make and is fast, can build very large projects like KDE on build farms
  • make help, make foo.s, make foo.E, VERBOSE=1 make PROJECT/fast
  • Advanced RPATH handling, full support for all kinds of static/shared libs and plugins, no more cryptic foo.la libtool "libraries"
  • support for chrpath, i.e. changing the RPATH without need to actually link again
  • Works on many host operating systems (a full list would be good)
  • Supports many toolchains: GNU, MS, Borland, Sun, also e.g sdcc
  • Beta cross compiling, to Linux, Windows, eCos, supercomputers, no OS, from 8bit uCs to 64bit CPUs
  • Full dependencies: build a target in some directory, and everything this target depends on will be up to date
  • Extensive test suite and nightly builds/test on many platforms
  • modular design (e.g. the Find modules, language, toolchain and OS support files) * > easily extendable
  • just one tool instead of automake+autoconf+libtool+m4+shell+make
  • Good scripting language that supports:
    • control structures (conditional, iterative)
    • regular expressions, eliminating need for grep+awk+sed+perl
    • macros (similar to functions, with counted or vararg parameters)
    • portable commands for file and directory manipulation
  • Extensive auxiliary cmake modules for finding and simplifying use of popular libraries (boost, sdl, fltk, etc.) and utilities (swig, etc).
  • Comes with a GUI layer for easy edition of input variables, both Curses and QT based options.
  • Command line support
  • it's a native tool, windows devs don't have to deal with POSIX shells, OSX devs can continue to use XCode
  • .tar.gz archiving available on all platforms: no need to chase down tar/gzip for Windows
  • can create OSX library frameworks
  • can create OSX application bundles
  • scales well for really, really big projects like KDE

CTest Features

  • Run all or sub-sets of tests for a project
  • Submit testing results to Dart 1,2 and CDash
  • Run tests that build and run --build-and-test command
  • support coverage with gcc, and bullseye coverage tools
  • support memory checking with valgrind, purify, and bounds checker

CPack Features

  • Simple Declarative creation of packages/installers using CMake+CPack
  • Create Source or Binary packages
  • A wealth of supported formats:
    • Create professional windows installers with NSIS
    • Create tar.gz tar.Z on any platform
    • Create self extracting tar.gz .sh files
    • Create rpm
    • Create Debian .deb files
    • Create Cygwin setup packages