Authoring your CMakeLists#

Scikit-build-core provides a variety of useful variables for your CMakeLists.

Detecting Scikit-build-core#

You can write CMakeLists that support running inside and outside scikit-build-core using the ${SKBUILD} variable. This will be defined to “2” for scikit-build-core (and “1” for classic scikit-build). You can also detect the version of scikit-build-core with ${SKBUILD_CORE_VERSION}.

Accessing information#

Scikit-build-core provides several useful variables:

  • ${SKBUILD_PROJECT_NAME}: The name of the project.

  • ${SKBUILD_PROJECT_VERSION}: The version of the project.

  • ${SKBUILD_STATE}: The run state, one of sdist, wheel, metadata_wheel, editable, or metadata_editable.

Finding Python#

You can directly use FindPython:

find_package(Python COMPONENTS Interpreter Development.Module REQUIRED)

You always want to find at least Interpreter and the “Module” component of the “Development” package. You do not want to find the entire “Development” package, as that include “Embed” component, which is not always present and is not related to making Python extension modules.

If you are making a Limited ABI / Stable API package, you’ll need the Development.SABIModule component instead. You can use the SKBUILD_LIMITED_API variable to check to see if it was requested.


If you want to cross-compile to Windows ARM, you’ll need to use ${SKBUILD_SOABI}, which is always correct, instead of trusting FindPython’s Python_SOABI value.

If you want to use the old, deprecated FindPythonInterp and FindPythonLibs instead, you can. Though it should be noted that FindPythonLibs requires a trick to make it work properly if a Python library is not preset (like in manylinux): you have to set PYTHON_LIBRARY to something (doesn’t matter what) to make it succeed.

Finding other packages#

Scikit-build-core includes the site-packages directory in CMake’s search path, so packages can provide a find package config with a name matching the package name - such as the pybind11 package.

Third party packages can declare entry-points cmake.module and cmake.prefix, and the specified module will be added to CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH and CMAKE_MODULE_PATH, respectively. Currently, the key is not used, but eventually there might be a way to request or exclude certain entry-points by key.

Install directories#

Scikit-build-core will install directly into platlib, which will end up in site-packages. If you are used to scikit-build, you might find targeting /<module_name> to be more natural. You can mimic the old behavior with a configuration option (wheel.install-dir). However, scikit-build-core is more powerful, and allows you to install multiple packages or top-level extension modules if you need to.

You can access all of the possible output directories, regardless of configuration, with the variables:

  • ${SKBUILD_PLATLIB_DIR}: The original platlib directory. Anything here goes directly to site-packages when a wheel is installed.

  • ${SKBUILD_DATA_DIR}: The data directory. Anything here goes to the root of the environment when a wheel is installed (use with care).

  • ${SKBUILD_HEADERS_DIR}: The header directory. Anything in here gets installed to Python’s header directory.

  • ${SKBUILD_SCRIPTS_DIR}: The scripts directory. Anything placed in here will go to bin (Unix) or Scripts (Windows).

  • ${SKBUILD_NULL_DIR}: Anything installed here will not be placed in the wheel.

Limited API / Stable ABI#

You can activate the limited ABI by setting When you do that, ${SKBUILD_SABI_COMPONENT} will be set to Development.SABIModule if you can target this (new enough CPython), and will remain an empty string otherwise (PyPy). This allows the following idiom:

find_package(Python REQUIRED COMPONENTS Interpreter Development.Module ${SKBUILD_SABI_COMPONENT})

This will add this only if scikit-build-core is driving the compilation and is targeting ABI3. If you want to support limited ABI from outside scikit-build-core, look into the OPTIONAL_COMPONENTS flag for find_package.

Future additions#

Scikit-build-core does not include helpers for F2Py or Cython like scikit-build classic yet. These will be carefully reimagined soon.