Using qi_install functions

qi_install functions are simply wrappers for install upstream CMake functions.

Here are a few concepts you need to understand to properly use qi_install functions


The various qi_install_* function deals with the components and respect the SDK layout for you.

They also help you producing ‘runtime’ packages (containing just what is necessary to run your software), or ‘development’ packages (containing everything in the runtime package, plus all that is necessary to use your : headers, library, cmake config files, et al.)

Runtime versus development installation

Here are the components that will be used during a runtime install

component function destination
“binary” qi_create_bin bin/
“lib” qi_create_lib(SHARED) lib/ on UNIX, bin/ on windows
“conf” qi_install_conf etc/
“data” qi_install_data share/
“doc” qi_install_doc share/doc

Note that qi_create_bin and qi_create_lib create the install rules for you by default. If you don’t what the executable to be installed (because it’s just a test, for instance, you can use:

qi_create_bin(foo NO_INSTALL)

If you want to install an executable that is NOT the result of a compilation (for instance a script), you can use qi_install_program

When doing a normal install, you will get the previous component, plus the following ones

component function destination
“static-lib”, qi_create_lib(STATIC) lib/
“cmake” qi_stage_lib share/cmake/modules/
“header” qi_install_header include/

If you want to install something in your development install that does not fit in these components (say, an example), you can use the generic qi_install function

For instance

qi_install(foo_example bar_examples DESTINATION examples KEEP_RELATIVE_PATHS)

will give you:

sources                       destination
foo_example                    |__ foo_example
|__ CMakeLists                    |__ CMakeLists
|__ foo.cpp                       |__ foo.cpp
bar_example                       bar_example
|__ CMakeLists                    |__ CMakeLists
|__ bar.cpp                       |__ bar.cpp

Also, to install a README at the root of your package you could do:

qi_install(doc/README DESTINATION ".")

Since no component as been given, this files won’t be in the runtime install.

Special features

qi_install ends up calling regular install() CMake functions, but there are some differences, here are a few

Check of arguments

If you try to install a file that does not exists, using install() will exit during installation, but qi_install will exit during configuration. This does no prevent you from installing generated files, but you have to make sure the are generated before creating the install rule.

# Always generate files in cmake build dir:
set(_out ${CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR}/foobar)
configure_file( "${_out}")
  DESTINATION /etc/init.d/

# Note the trailing "/" at the end of the DESTINATION argument.

# Do NOT use:
  DESTINATION /etc/init.d/foobar

# or you'll end up with /etc/init.d/foobar/foobar ...

Support of glob and directories

Please not that on top of this, you can use directories, globbing expressions and list of files as arguments on all qi_install_* functions.

For instance

qi_install(foo/bar/ *.txt spam.cfg eggs.cfg DESTINATION "prefix")

will install:

  • directory foo/bar to “prefix/bar”
  • every .txt file in current directory to “prefix”
  • the spam and eggs cfg file to “prefix”

Note the glob is not recursive by default.

If you really need it, just use:

qi_install(foo/*.hpp RECURSE)

“IF” keyword

Instead of using

  qi_install(.... )

you can use

qi_install(.... IF FOO)


qi_install functions accept either a SUBFOLDER or a KEEP_RELATIVE_PATHS keyword.

It is easier to understand the meaning of these keywords by an example.


You should use this for instance with headers in several different folders (a bit like an autotools project):

sources:                      destination
  foo                          include
  |__ include                  |__ foo
      |__ foo.h                       |__ foo.h
      |__ bar.h                       |__ bar.h
  config.h (generated)                |__ config.h
                 SUBFOLDER foo)

qi_install_header will set DESTINATION “include” for you, but you need ‘SUBFOLDER foo’ argument to tell CMake to install files to include/foo, regardless their original path.


You should you this for instance with headers following the exact same hierarchy in the source tree and when installed (a bit like boost):

sources                         destination
  libfoo                        include
  |__ foo                       |__ foo
      |__ foo.h                     |__ foo.h
      bar                           bar
      |__ bar.h                     |__ bar.h
          baz                           baz
          |__ baz.h                     |__ baz.h

qi_install_header will set DESTINATION “include” for you, and you do not need SUBFOLDER because KEEP_RELATIVE_PATHS is set.