An Easy and Modern Build System For C/C++ With Readable Syntax, according to its creators.
You can not select more than 25 topics Topics must start with a letter or number, can include dashes ('-') and can be up to 35 characters long.
Go to file
Yogurt 5a57d8fac2
recursive folder yay
1 week ago
.vscode fixed buildscript doas thing 1 week ago
cate more namings, subcate in install because yes 2 weeks ago
docs/manpages preparing cate 2.3 2 months ago
examples changed test for example project 1 week ago
github_stuff changed test for example project 1 week ago
include recursive folder yay 1 week ago
src recursive folder yay 1 week ago
.catel it wants me to recommit? 2 months ago
.gitignore fixed buildscript doas thing 1 week ago
LICENSE.txt it wants me to recommit? 2 months ago fixed buildscript doas thing 1 week ago better error and optimized buildscript 1 month ago
changes made some namings better, and deleted some useless parts. 2 weeks ago better error, added to readme, and added another cheml to the test 2 weeks ago

Cate: A Build System for the sane.

Cate is a simple build system for C/C++ with C-like syntax.


Cate is a simple and fast build system for C/C++, its syntax is much simpler than the other build systems. While Cate is slower than Make, it's is much easier to set up and create projects and libraries with.

Cate does not have a Windows release as of yet because of our laziness

Unlike CMake and other build systems, Cate does not require Make and is not Turing complete. Cate is more like a wrapper state-machine for GCC/clang than an object oriented build system (unlike CMake), or a build system programming language (also unlike CMake).

Cate is not written in Rust and never will be; Cate has 0 memory leaks thanks to a practice known as "knowing how memory works".

Do note:

  • We know the source code isn't great, it was our first project.
  • Cate uses Catel, a messy file type that allows default files.
  • Cate uses robin_hood hashing, since it's 20% more efficient (on average)
  • Cate does not support \" characters in string literals, nor string splitting.

Advantages of Cate over other build systems

You may be wondering what issues Cate solves, let us clear it up for you!

  1. Cate is extremely easy to learn, it doesn't require learning an entirely new language just to build a project!
  2. Cate (unlike CMake) has a consistent syntax that doesn't require documentation.
  3. Cate is smol, It has everything it needs and a little more to keep the 1% happy.
  4. Cate, unlike Make, just cates sense!

Installing Cate

If you're still here; that means you suffered enough CMake (or Autotools) to reconsider your life choices, Thank you for choosing Cate!


Run the following commands:

sudo dpkg -i cate_2.6-0_amd64.deb
rm cate_2.6-0_amd64.deb

Other distributions

Run the following commands:

mkdir catering
cd catering
sudo ./
cd ..
rm -rf catering

Building from source

Make sure you have these installed:

  • A Unix-like operating system
  • A C++17 compiler (g++ or clang++) optional
  • GNU Flex 2.6.4 or greater (setup here)


Run ./, It'll ask you if you'd like to install at the end.

Using Cate

Run cate, Unlike Make; It'll automatically detect the thread count.

Use sudo cate install to install

Using Cate

Cate's CLI is intuitive, but doesn't offer much. You can not set cflags with a command (unlike Autotools), but you get the minimum required to work with Cate.

Flags (Options)

  • -tN (and -jN): Set thread count to N. Cate automatically detects thread count so this isn't required.
  • -l: Lists Catefiles in Catefiles directory (set by Catel).
  • -D: Disable all user-defined system() calls in script.
  • -S: Smolize even if not set in script.
  • -f (and -B): Forcefully rebuild project, by deleting its object files.
  • -v: Shows the installed Cate version.
  • -h: Shows help and Cate version.

Creating a Cate project

Create the following structure

  |_ build.cate


  |_ main.c

Or use the following commands

mkdir cate include src
touch cate/build.cate src/main.c

Creating Catefiles (Catering)

You've come this far! Good Job!

Cate breaks most known build system conventions by forcing you to use multiple files for different targets and having a file extension (unlike CMake, Make, Autotools, and many more). For a debug build; you'll have a debug.cate. For a cross-platform build; you'll have a platformname.cate.


Cate uses C-like syntax with the exception of it being a "state-machine" rather than a language. It does not support int literals (0123456789) as of yet (and hopefully forever).

Cate does not support =; syntax

There are only two class types, Project and Library.

Example project

Project project;
project.files = {"src/main.c"};
project.includes = {"include"};
project.libs = {/*add libraries here*/};
project.flags = "/*flags here*/";
project.smol = true;
project.out = "/*out name here*/";;

Libraries require a parameter called LibraryType which can be either static or dynamic

Example library (not in example project)

Library library(static)
library.files = {"src/main.c"};
library.includes = {"include"};
library.libs = {/*add libraries here*/};
library.flags = "-O2";
library.out = "out/liblibrary.a";;

Cate (since 2.6) does not require the object names to be repeated.

Project proj;
.flags = "-O3";
.files = "src/main.c";


Both classes have these properties, even if they don't make sense for the class

  • Array<String> files: Files of the project/library. No default.

  • Array<String> incs|includes|include_paths: Include paths of the project/library. Defaults to "include/" if present.

  • Array<String> defs|defines|definitions: Definitions. Default is set by the compiler.

  • String out: The output file name.

    • In projects: Defaults to the identifier.
    • In libraries: Defaults to "lib" + the identifier + the extension for the library type..
  • String compiler: The compiler to use. Default is cc.

  • String std|standard: The C/C++ standard to use. Default is set by the compiler.

  • String obj_dir|object_dir|build_dir|build_directory: The folder it'd store object files in. Defaults to "build" (or cate/build if catedir is present), unless a directory named "obj" is present; where it'd use it.

  • String flags: The cflags of the project/library, All object files are compiled with them. Default is empty.

  • String final_flags: The cflags ran at the end (linking step) of the project/library's compilation. Default is empty.

  • bool link: Whether to run the linking step or not. Default is true.

  • bool threading: Whether to add -pthread to build command. Default is false. (Just syntactical sugar.)

  • bool smol|smolize: Whether to attempt to reduce output-file's size with minimal to no performance loss. Default is false.

  • LibraryType type: Type of library, static or dynamic. Gets from library "constructor".

Class methods

  • void build(): Builds project/library.
  • void clean(): Deletes project/library's build directory.

General functions

  • Array<String> recursive(String path): Get all files (or include paths) in path ending with an extension. Example: project.files = recursive("src/*.c");.

    • recursive() Allows subdirectory recursion, Example: recursive("src/**.c");
    • recursive() is also called iterate().
  • void system(String command): Run command. Will be skipped if user runs Cate with the -D flag.

  • void subcate(String file_name): Starts a new Cate "instance" with the passed file name. (since 2.7)


A Catel file (.catel) is a dumb file made to point cate at the right directory, and use a default file.

Here's an example Catel file:

def smol.cate
dir cate


  • Yogurt (Main Maintainer)
  • Latte (Bug fixer)

Special thanks

Special thanks to

  • Make for being hard to work with, and extremely ugly.
  • CMake for failing to be an an improvement over make, and still suffer from the same issues.
  • Autotools for being the worst build system to ever exist.

Without these crimes against humanity, Cate would not have existed.

Thank you; Make, CMake, and Autotools for being so terrible.