Quick CMake setup for VSCode

on 2021-05-29

When setting up my ScifiFPS C/Raylib project, I was having lots of problems with Makefiles. Apparently this is not uncommon, however I'm pretty new in C and makefiles in the first place, and setting it all up with VSCode was also a bit of a hassle.

I however managed to get my CMake files work nicely with VSCode. Keep in mind this has only been tested on Windows, because as much as I'd love to run Linux as my daily driver, I haven't had the chance to do the switch yet. Also this was made for Raylib project, so you probaby will have to modify your build command etc. to suit your needs.

If you just want to get VSCode to build your project using CMake Tools when you press F5, skip to section 4!

Here's how I got VSCode build my Raylib C project with CMake on Windows:

  1. First, download CMake Tools -extension for your VSCode. You'll also have to install CMake

  2. In the root of your C project folder, add CMakeLists.txt and copy the following to the file

    cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.0)
    project(scififps C)
    set(CMAKE_C_STANDARD 99)
    add_executable(${PROJECT_NAME} ${SOURCE_CODE})
    #Currently compiles only for Windows.
    IF (WIN32)
        #I used following for Raylib.
        target_link_libraries(${PROJECT_NAME} PRIVATE ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/lib/libraylib.a opengl32 gdi32 winmm)
        #Here goes other platforms. You can make your own for Linux and such.
    target_compile_definitions(${PROJECT_NAME} PUBLIC ASSETS_PATH="${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/assets/")

    And yes, I know I could have built the libraylib.a straight from source, but I didn't want to build libraylib.a every time I build the game.

  3. Put this in your src directory inside CMakeLists.txt file

    file (GLOB_RECURSE SOURCE_CODE *.h *.c)

    This will fetch all the *.h and *.c files and link them to source code, so you don't have to type them all. Thanks to GoldenThumbs for showing me this!

  4. To get VSCode build your project when you press F5, add the following to your project root inside .vscode folder.


        "version": "0.2.0",
        "configurations": [
                "name": "Run target",
                "type": "cppdbg",
                "request": "launch",
                "preLaunchTask": "build",
                "program": "${command:cmake.launchTargetPath}",
                "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}/build"


        "version": "2.0.0",
        "tasks": [
                "label": "build",
                "type": "shell",
                "command": "{cmake.debugTarget}",
                "options": {
                    "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}/build"
                "group": {
                    "kind": "build",
                    "isDefault": true

    Now every time you press F5, VScode uses the Cmake extension to build and debug your project.

That should be it!

Again, remember that the first CMakeLists.txt file I mentioned, the one that goes to the root of your project, you may have to tailor for your own needs. The one I copied there works for me when I build Raylib projects.

Also, I'm new in all of things related to C! If you have better ideas how to make CMake files, don't hesitate to contact me on my twitter or if you spot me in Discord. I'd like to know and learn.

However I hope this is useful someone! Happy coding, and happy less-make-file..ing. That sounded better in my head..