Building SDK from Source

This section explains how to build and install the Dronecode SDK C++ library from source (both "natively" and in docker) for all our target platforms. It also shows how to build the SDK with extensions and build the API Reference documentation.

Build the C++ Library

This section explains how to build the SDK C++ library from source, along with its unit and integration tests. Build artifacts are created in the build subdirectory.


First install:

  • XCode (for clang)
  • Homebrew (for cmake). Once you have installed brew, you can install cmake via the terminal:
    brew install cmake

Then follow the instructions for building the library on Linux.


To build the Dronecode SDK C++ Library on Linux (or macOS after installing the preconditions above):

  1. First install the dependencies

    sudo apt-get update -y
    sudo apt-get install cmake build-essential colordiff astyle git libcurl4-openssl-dev libtinyxml2-dev doxygen -y

    If the build reports a missing dependency, confirm that the set above matches the requirements in the appropriate docker file for your platform.

  2. Clone the DronecodeSDK repository (or your fork):

    git clone
    cd DronecodeSDK
  3. Checkout the release/branch you want to build (the develop branch is checked out by default).
    • Latest stable build (master):
      git checkout master
    • Head revision with latest features (develop):
      git checkout develop
  4. Update the submodules:
    git submodule update --init --recursive
  5. Build the (debug) C++ library by calling:
    make default

    You can build release binaries by setting BUILD_TYPE=Release as shown below:

      make clean
      BUILD_TYPE=Release make
  1. (Optionally) "Install" the Dronecode SDK as described below. This is required in order to build Dronecode SDK C++ apps, but not to run SDK test code.


To build the library in Windows, you need:

  • Build Tools for Visual Studio 2017: Download and install (only the "Visual C+ Build Tools" are needed from installer).
  • cmake: Download the installer and run it. Make sure to tick "add to PATH" during the installation.
  • curl: Download the source, extract and build it, and make the directory of the header files available as described below.

The instructions below assume you downloaded and extracted to the root of your C drive. You can use a different curl if you want.

To build the Dronecode SDK C++ Library on Windows:

  1. Clone the Dronecode SDK repository (or your fork):
    git clone
    cd DronecodeSDK
  2. Checkout the release/branch you want to build (the develop branch is checked out by default).
    • Latest stable build (master):
      git checkout master
    • Head revision with latest features (develop):
      git checkout develop
  3. Update the submodules:
    git submodule update --init --recursive
  4. Download the source and extract it to the root of your C drive.
  5. Open the VS2015 x64 Native Tools Command Prompt, go to the source directory and enter:
    cd C:\curl-7.56.1\winbuild
    nmake /f mode=static VC=15 MACHINE=x64 DEBUG=no
  6. Then build the SDK in Windows:

    cd /your/path/to/DronecodeSDK
    mkdir build && cd build
    cmake -DWIN_CURL_INCLUDE_DIR:STRING=C:\\curl-7.56.1\\include -DWIN_CURL_LIB:STRING="C:\curl-7.56.1\builds\libcurl-vc15-x64-release-static-ipv6-sspi-winssl\lib\libcurl_a.lib" -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" ..
    cmake --build .

    You can generate release binaries by setting --config Release in the build step (--config Debug is used by default):

      cmake --build . --config Release

    Tip To use more than one CPU core to build set this before building:

      set CL=/MP
  7. (Optionally) "Install" the SDK as described below. This is required in order to build Dronecode SDK C++ apps, but not to run SDK test code.

Install the SDK

Installing builds the SDK and copies the libraries and header files into a "public" location so that they can be referenced by C++ applications (see Building C++ Apps). The SDK supports installation system-wide by default. You can also install files locally/relative to the DronecodeSDK tree if needed.

System-wide installation is not yet supported on Windows (see #155) so you will need to install the SDK locally.

Windows gurus, we'd love your help to implement this).

System-wide Install

System-wide installation copies the SDK headers and binaries to the standard system-wide locations for your platform (On Ubuntu Linux this is /usr/local/).

System-wide installation overwrites any previously installed version of the SDK.

To install the SDK system-wide:

make clean  #REQUIRED!
make default
sudo make default install  # sudo required to install files to system directories!

# First installation only
sudo ldconfig  # update linker cache

The first time you build the SDK you may also need to update the linker cache. On Ubuntu this is done with sudo ldconfig, as shown above.

Local Install

Local installation copies the SDK headers/library to a user-specified location inside the SDK source directory.

On Linux/macOS use the INSTALL_PREFIX variable to specify a path relative to the DronecodeSDK/build/ folder (or an absolute path). For example, to install into the DronecodeSDK/install/ folder you would call:

make clean  #REQUIRED!
INSTALL_PREFIX=../../install make default install

On Windows specify --target install when building, as shown:

cmake --build . --target install

Build for Android

You must first build the C++ Library (as shown above).

To build for Android devices or simulators, you first need to install:

Also, you need to set these three environment variables:

  • NDK_ROOT to <your-android-ndk>
  • ANDROID_TOOLCHAIN_CMAKE to <your-android-ndk>/build/cmake/android.toolchain.cmake
  • ANDROID_CMAKE_BIN to <your-android-sdk>/cmake/<version>/bin/cmake

E.g. you can add the lines below to your .bashrc, (or .zshrc for zshell users, or .profile):

export NDK_ROOT=$HOME/Android/android-ndk-r13
export ANDROID_TOOLCHAIN_CMAKE=$HOME/Android/android-ndk-r13/build/cmake/android.toolchain.cmake
export ANDROID_CMAKE_BIN=$HOME/Android/Sdk/cmake/3.6.3155560/bin/cmake

Then you build for all Android architectures:

make android install

Build for iOS

You must first build the C++ Library (as shown above).

To build for real iOS devices on macOS:

make ios install

Build for the iOS simulator on macOS:

make ios_simulator install

Building in Docker

You can also build the SDK on your host computer with a toolchain running in a Docker container (this saves you from having to install or manage the toolchain directly).

There are docker containers based on Fedora and Ubuntu. It doesn't matter which you use!

The main steps are:

  1. Install Docker on your host computer

    The easiest way to do this on Ubuntu is to use the convenience script here.

  2. Clone the DronecodeSDK repository (or your fork) and update the submodules:
    git clone
    cd DronecodeSDK
    git submodule update --init --recursive
  3. Enter one of the following commands in your host's terminal:

    • Fedora 27
      docker run --rm -it -v $HOME/DronecodeSDK:/root/DronecodeSDK:rw dronecode/dronecode-sdk-fedora-27 bash
    • Fedora 28
      docker run --rm -it -v $HOME/DronecodeSDK:/root/DronecodeSDK:rw dronecode/dronecode-sdk-fedora-28 bash
    • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
      docker run --rm -it -v $HOME/DronecodeSDK:/root/DronecodeSDK:rw dronecode/dronecode-sdk-ubuntu-16.04 bash
    • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
      docker run --rm -it -v $HOME/DronecodeSDK:/root/DronecodeSDK:rw dronecode/dronecode-sdk-ubuntu-18.04 bash

    The -v flag maps a directory on your host (left side) to a path in the container (right side). You need to specify the left-side path to the DronecodeSDK repository on your host and the container path must be set as above. The --rm automatically cleans up leftover docker containers after you exit the docker container.

    Docker will download the selected image from Docker Hub, use it to create a container, and then open a bash prompt:

  4. In the terminal you can build the SDK using the normal Linux make commands:
    # Build the C++ library
    make default
    # Build and install the SDK
    make default install
    # Run code-style check
    make fix_style
    # Clean the build
    make clean

Files built in a Docker container are owned by root. In order to clean up the build and install folders you will need to either call make clean in the container or sudo make clean in the host computer (or sudo rm -r build).

Running Single Docker Commands

You can also run build commands directly from your host (rather than opening bash). Below we show this using the Ubuntu 16.04 docker image:

To make and install the C++ Library:

docker run --rm -it -v $HOME/<path-to-sdk-repo>/DronecodeSDK:/root/DronecodeSDK:rw dronecode/dronecode-sdk-ubuntu-16.04 make install

To run the code style check:

docker run --rm -it -v $HOME/<path-to-sdk-repo>/DronecodeSDK:/root/DronecodeSDK:rw dronecode/dronecode-sdk-ubuntu-16.04 make fix_style

Building the Docker Image

The approach above downloads a container image from Docker Hub based on Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, Fedora 27 or Fedora 28.

You can also build the images yourself using the files in DronecodeSDK/docker. The image can be used in the same way as the one from Docker Hub.

To build the Ubuntu 16.04 image (the other's follow the same pattern):

  1. Open a command prompt/terminal in the root of the SDK source repository.
  2. Build the image as shown:
      docker build -f docker/Dockerfile-Ubuntu-16.04 -t my_image .
    my_image can then be used to refer to the image in later steps.
  3. Open a bash prompt using the newly created image:
    docker run --rm -it -v $HOME/<path-to-sdk-repo>/DronecodeSDK:/root/DronecodeSDK:rw my_image bash

Build SDK Extensions

The Dronecode SDK can be extended with plugins and integration tests that are defined "out of tree". These are declared inside a parallel directory that is included into the SDK at compile time (by specifying EXTERNAL_DIR in the make command).

The commands to build and install the SDK with an extension library are:

make clean   # This is required!
make default EXTERNAL_DIR=relative_path_to_external_directory
sudo make default install

See SDK Extensions for more information.

Build API Reference Documentation

The C++ source code is annotated using comments using Doxygen syntax.

Extract the documentation to markdown files (one per class) on macOS or Linux using the commands:

rm -R install  # Required (remove previous install/docs)
make distclean     # Required (clean build)

The files are created in /install/docs/markdown.

Extracting the API reference does not yet work automatically on Windows.

The script builds the library, installs it locally to /install, and then uses DOxygen to create XML documentation in /install/docs/xml. The script is then run on all files in the /xml directory to generate markdown files in /install/docs/markdown.

© Dronecode 2017. License: CC BY 4.0            Updated: 2018-07-12 03:09:32

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