Scikit-build-core is a complete ground-up rewrite of scikit-build on top of modern packaging APIs. It provides a bridge between CMake and the Python build system, allowing you to make Python modules with CMake.


Features over classic Scikit-build:

  • Better warnings, errors, and logging

  • No warning about unused variables

  • Automatically adds Ninja and/or CMake only as required

  • No dependency on setuptools, distutils, or wheel

  • Powerful config system, including config options support

  • Automatic inclusion of site-packages in CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH

  • FindPython is backported if running on CMake < 3.26.1 (configurable), supports PyPY SOABI & Limited API / Stable ABI

  • Limited API / Stable ABI and pythonless tags supported via config option

  • No slow generator search, ninja/make or MSVC used by default, respects CMAKE_GENERATOR

  • SDists are reproducible by default (UNIX, Python 3.9+)

  • Support for caching between builds (opt-in by setting build-dir)

  • Support for writing out to extra wheel folders (scripts, headers, data)

  • Dedicated entrypoints for module and prefix directories

  • Several integrated dynamic metadata plugins (proposing standardized support soon)

  • Experimental editable mode support, with optional experimental auto rebuilds on import

  • Supports WebAssembly (Emscripten/Pyodide).

The following limitations are present compared to classic scikit-build:

  • The minimum supported CMake is 3.15

  • The minimum supported Python is 3.7

Some known missing features that will be developed soon:

  • No support for other targets besides install

  • Wheels are not fully reproducible yet

  • Several editable mode caveats (mentioned in the docs)

Other backends are also planned:

  • Setuptools integration highly experimental

  • The extensionlib integration is missing

  • No hatchling plugin yet

The recommended interface is the native pyproject builder. There is also a WIP setuptools-based interface that is being developed to provide a transition path for classic scikit-build.

WARNING: Only the pyproject-based builder should be used; the setuptools backend is experimental and likely to move to a separate package before being declared stable, and internal API is still being solidified. A future version of this package will support creating new build extensions.


To use scikit-build-core, add it to your build-system.requires, and specify the builder as your You do not need to specify cmake or ninja; scikit-build-core will require them automatically if the system versions are not sufficient.

requires = ["scikit-build-core"]
build-backend = ""

name = "scikit_build_simplest"
version = "0.0.1"

You can (and should) specify the rest of the entries in project, but these are the minimum to get started. You can also scikit-build-core[pyproject] to pre-load some dependencies if you want; in some cases this might be marginally faster.

An example CMakeLists.txt:

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.15...3.26)

find_package(Python COMPONENTS Interpreter Development.Module REQUIRED)

Python_add_library(_module MODULE src/module.c WITH_SOABI)

Scikit-build-core will backport FindPython from CMake 3.26.1 to older versions of Python, and will handle PyPy for you if you are building from PyPy. You will need to install everything you want into the full final path inside site-modules (so you will usually prefix everything by the package name).

More examples are in the tests/packages.


All configuration options can be placed in pyproject.toml, passed via -C or --config-setting in build or --config-settings in pip (warning: pip doesn’t support list options), or set as environment variables. tool.scikit-build is used in toml, skbuild. for -C options, or SKBUILD_* for environment variables. The defaults are listed below:

# The PEP 517 build hooks will add ninja and/or cmake if the versions on the
# system are not at least these versions. Disabled by an empty string.
cmake.minimum-version = "3.15"
ninja.minimum-version = "1.5"

# Fallback on gmake/make if available and ninja is missing (Unix). Will only
# fallback on platforms without a known ninja wheel.
ninja.make-fallback = true

# Extra args for CMake. Pip, unlike build, does not support lists, so semicolon
# can be used to separate. Setting this in config or envvar will override the
# entire list. See also cmake.define.
cmake.args = []

# This activates verbose builds
cmake.verbose = false

# This controls the CMake build type = "Release"

# Display logs at or above this level.
logging.level = "WARNING"

# Include and exclude patterns, in gitignore syntax. Include overrides exclude.
# Wheels include packages included in the sdist; CMake has the final say.
sdist.include = []
sdist.exclude = []

# Make reproducible SDists (Python 3.9+ and UNIX recommended). Respects
# SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH when true (the default).
sdist.reproducible = true

# The root-level packages to include. Special default: if not given, the package
# is auto-discovered if it's name matches the main name.
wheel.packages = ["src/<package>", "<package>"]

# Setting py-api to "cp37" would build ABI3 wheels for Python 3.7+.  If CPython
# is less than this value, or on PyPy, this will be ignored.  Setting the api to
# "py3" or "py2.py3" would build wheels that don't depend on Python (ctypes,
# etc). = ""

# Setting this to true will expand tags (universal2 will add Intel and Apple
# Silicon tags, for pip <21.0.1 compatibility).
wheel.expand-macos-universal-tags = false

# This allows you to change the install dir, such as to the package name. The
# original dir is still at SKBUILD_PLATLIB_DIR (also SKBUILD_DATA_DIR, etc. are
# available)
wheel.install-dir = "."

# The licence file(s) to include in the wheel metadata directory.
wheel.license-files = ["LICEN[CS]E*", "COPYING*", "NOTICE*", "AUTHORS*"]

# This will backport an internal copy of FindPython if CMake is less than this
# value. Set to 0 or the empty string to disable. The default will be kept in
# sync with the version of FindPython stored in scikit-build-core.
backport.find-python = "3.26.1"

# This is the only editable mode currently
editable.mode = "redirect"

# Enable auto rebuilds on import (experimental)
editable.rebuild = false

# Display output on stderr while rebuilding on import
editable.verbose = true

# Enable experimental features if any are available
experimental = false

# Strictly validate config options
strict-config = true

# This provides some backward compatibility if set. Defaults to the latest
# scikit-build-core version.
minimum-version = "0.2"  # current version

# Build directory (empty will use a temporary directory). {cache_tag} and
# {wheel_tag} are available to provide a unique directory per interpreter.
build-dir = ""

# Put CMake defines in this table.

# List dynamic metadata fields and hook locations in this table

Most CMake environment variables should be supported, and CMAKE_ARGS can be used to set extra CMake args. ARCHFLAGS is used to specify macOS universal2 or cross-compiles, just like setuptools.

Other projects for building#

Scikit-build-core is a binary build backend. There are also other binary build backends:

  • py-build-cmake: A different attempt at a standards compliant builder for CMake. Strong focus on cross-compilation. Uses Flit internals.

  • [meson-python][]: A meson-based build backend; has some maintainer overlap with scikit-build-core.

  • maturin: A build backend for Rust projects, using Cargo.

  • enscons: A SCons based backend, not very actively developed (it predates all the others in modern standard support!)

If you don’t need a binary build, you don’t need to use a binary build backend! There are some very good Python build backends; we recommend hatchling as a good balance between good defaults for beginners and good support for advanced use cases. This is the tool scikit-build-core itself uses.


Support for this work was provided by NSF cooperative agreement OAC-2209877.


Indices and tables#