Pub License

Compile native extensions with package:build, using the system compilers.

Windows building is not supported YET.


This is a 2-step build process:

  1. Build *.{c,cc,cpp} files to .o.
  2. Link files into a shared library.

Ultimately, to build everything and run a Dart script, you will just need to run pub run build_runner run <script name>.

The goal of this package is to use existing infrastructure to build native extensions.

As an added note, this has not been tested on Linux, but it is developed on Mac, and the two platforms compile extensions almost exactly the same way.


build_native requires only very little configuration. However, this means that it can only serve one purpose: invoking the compiler on the user's system.

Command Line Usage

package:build_native ships with a few commands that can make the native extension experience a bit easier to bear:

Verifying the Environment

To ensure that the system has a compatible compiler available, and that the necessary executables are in the PATH to build extensions, run:

pub run build_native doctor

Generating Extension Boilerplate

Creating native extensions for any language can tend to involve a lot of boilerplate.

To quickly scaffold a new native extension, run:

pub run build_native scaffold

Source Files

Also, because of the nature of package:build, each input can only create one output. For *.c, *.cc, and *.cpp, files, the system compiler is invoked to create a .o file. To override this, set the CC environment variable when compiling C, or the CXX environment variable when compiling C++.

Files named *.macos.{c,cc,cpp} will only build on Mac. The same applies to linux and windows. This can be used to apply platform-specific settings in your build.

Master Build File

To perform linking, include an lib<extension_name>.build_native.yaml file in the directory where the extension should be built.

It should contain a list of source files to link together.

Note that these should all be asset ID's.

The simplest example, libsample_extension.build_native.yaml:

  - example|src/

See example/ for more.

The most common of the supported options:

  - "-O2"
  - example|
  - example| # Will only be included on MacOS; ignored elsewhere
  - some_dir
  - some_other_package|lib/some_file.h # If passing an asset id, you must use a filename.
  - curl
  - readline
  - some_other_package|lib/libsome_extension.build_native.yaml
  foo: bar

Platform-Specific Options

To specify options that should only apply to a given platform, add a <extension_name>.<platform_name>.macos.build_native.yaml file, for example, foo_bar.macos.build_native.yaml. This will be merged into the main options.

Platforms available: macos, windows, linux.

By providing this as the PLATFORM environment variable, you can override this.

Disallowing a Platform

If you know your library will certainly never build on a given system, you can explicitly disallow it, instead of forcing users to first download dependencies before a build failure:

  - linux
  - macos
  - windows

Third-Party Dependencies

Unless you are a maniac and actually intend to write by hand every line of C/C++ code by hand, you might eventually need to pull in some source code from the Internet, so that it can be built alongside your program. Specify the names of dependencies in the third_party section of your configuration:

  git: git://some/repo/here
    - lib # Directories to link against; relative paths.
    - include  # Directories to include from; relative paths.
  sources: # Source files to compile
    - src/main.c
    - src/b/c/d.c

Specifying a Subdirectory

You can optionally specify a subdirectory against which to search for external build systems, include directories, source files, and the like:

      path: src/some/dir/where/everything/really/is

External Build Systems

package:build_native can automatically detect configuration and build external projects based on the following files:

  • CMakeLists.txt - if present, triggers a CMake build on the system.
  • Makefile - if present, triggers a GNU make build (nmake on Windows).
  • configure - if present, it is executed via sh, followed by a make build (nmake on Windows).
  • or - if present, triggers autoreconf, configure, then make (nmake on Windws).

You can specify a target in your dependency, which will be passed to make or CMake.

Note: If your aim is cross-platform builds, I personally recommend using CMake. Opting for GNU Make can easily shut out Windows users, which many libraries might not want. (Think node-gyp, which has abysmal support for Windows.)

Explicitly Linking a File

In some cases, especially when using an external build system, a dependency might emit a shared library; in such a case, the OS needs to know where to find it. package:build_native is not able to discern this automatically, so specify the names of any possible dynamic libraries the external build might create:

    git: ...
      - libmysqlcppconnector8.1.dylib
      - libmysqlcppconnector8.1.dll

Disabling Automatic Builds

In the case that you don't want to automatically to auto-detect build configuration in an external project, make sure you pass a sources array to its configuration.

Note: You can pass ["none"], and no sources will be built, as well as disabling auto-build.

From the Web

To require an archive from the Internet:

    # All of these formats are supported:
    md5: "some-hash-here" # Recommended if distributing on Pub, for security reasons.
    sha256: SHA256 hashes are also supported

From Git

To require from Git:

      commit: "some-hash"
      branch: master
      tag: some tag
      path: foo/bar
        - include
        - src/main.c
        - src/b/c/d.c

Always cloned with --depth 1.


Save yourself a hassle by running the build within the Visual Studio Developer Command Prompt.

Regardless, executables like cl.exe and link.exe should be available. Otherwise:

To enable a 64-bit toolset:

vcvarsall might be contained in: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Community\VC\Auxiliary\Build


On Unix, if you some error like this:

fatal error: bits/c++config.h: No such file or directory

Then run:

sudo apt-get install -y gcc-multilib g++-multilib