Building the Software Framework

This documents discusses the various build options that can be used when configuring and compiling Basilisk. The build system makes use of the conan package manager which provides for cross platform manner support. As a result the Basilisk build instructions are platform agnostic.

This page is broken up into distinct manners of building Basilisk starting with the simplest method that should work for the majority of users. This is followed by increasingly more detailed discussions on the build system for users who want to customize.

One-Step Configuring and Building the Basilisk Framework

If you just installed the Basilisk source code, or changed any source file, you will want to recreate the Basilisk IDE project or makefile to compile it. This creates or updates the project file to included the latest Basilisk source code. From the Basilisk root directory, this is done simply using:


This one-line step will use conan to:

  • pull and compile any resource dependencies such a protobuffer, etc.

  • configure the Xcode (macOS) or Visual Studio (Windows) IDE project in the dist3 folder, or create the makefile for Linux systems

  • build the project.

By default the build is for Python3 with the support for Module: vizInterface included to enable recording data for or live-streaming to Vizard.

The script accepts the following options to customize this process.

Options for One-Step Configure/Build Process








Includes the Google Protobuffer library to package up Vizard data messages, and the Zero-MQ library to communicate with Vizard.




Includes OpenCV library to create visual navigation modules that use OpenCV to process sensor images. If this option is selected, then the dependencies of vizInterface are also loaded as some components require the same libraries. Note that OpenCL related dependencies can take a while to compile, 10-20minutes is not unusual. However, once install they don’t need to be rebuilt unless .conan is deleted or the dependency changes.



If flag is set, this forces the distribution folder dist3 to be deleted to create a fresh setup and build




If set to True, this option will compile the project right away after creating the IDE or make file


Release, Debug


Sets the build type. This does not apply to the IDE project like Xcode and Visual Studio which control the build type through their interface.


see here

XCode (macOS), Visual Studio 16 2019 (Windows), None (Linux)

If not set the cmake build generator is automatically selected to be XCode for macOS, Visual Studio 16 2019 on Windows, and None for Linux which create a make file on this platform. It can also be set through this flag. If unsure what generators are supported on your platform, open a terminal window and type cmake --help to get a list of supported generator strings.


String ‘s’ or ‘u’


This is used to automatically respond to the python packaging installation requests to install the package for the user (u) or system (s).



If flag is set the all optional Basilisk python package depenencies are installed




path to external modules folder, see Building Custom Modules

Thus, for example, to create a build with opNav modes enabled, but no Module: vizInterface, and using a clean distribution folder, and that is built right away, you could use:

python3 --clean --opNav True --vizInterface False --buildProject True

The buildProject argument here is optional as its default value is True.


If you switch between building for release (default) and debug, you must re-run this command again. Otherwise you will not have the correct conan dependencies included for your build type. In the IDE like Xcode, for example, if you do a regular build you are building for debug, not for release. Thus, be mindful of how you are building the code.

Doing Incremental Builds

If you are developing new Basilisk capabilities you will be looking to do incremental builds. Note that running python will delete the auto-created messaging related files and their compiled products. Compiling the messaging related files is a large component of the Basilisk build time. Thus, running this command is required if you make changes to the message file definitions, or add a new message file. However, it is not the preferred manner to compile Basilisk if you just need to do an incremental build.

Rather, run python --buildProject False to create the IDE file for your platform such as Xcode projeect file on macOS, MS Visual Studio project file on Windows, etc. Next, open the project file in your IDE and compile Basilisk there. The initial build is a clean build and will take a similar amount of time to compile the messaging related files. However, after making changes to a particular module, only this Basilisk module will need to be compiled and the compile times are drastically reduced.

Running Project Tests

The project employs two testing frameworks, specifically Pytest for python executed tests and Google Test for C/C++ executed tests.

To run all tests execute the following from the project root directory


To run only the python test use the following commands. Please see Installing Optional Packages on how to run an optional multi-processing version of pytest.

cd src

To run only the C/C++ tests use

cd dist3

or on macOS ctest -C <Release or Debug>.