The CachedCMakePackage base class is used for CMake-based workflows that create a CMake cache file prior to running cmake. This is useful for packages with arguments longer than the system limit, and for reproducibility.

The documentation for this class assumes that the user is familiar with the CMakePackage class from which it inherits. See the documentation for CMakePackage.


The CachedCMakePackage base class comes with the following phases:

  1. initconfig - generate the CMake cache file

  2. cmake - generate the Makefile

  3. build - build the package

  4. install - install the package

By default, these phases run:

$ mkdir spack-build
$ cd spack-build
$ cat << EOF > name-arch-compiler@version.cmake
# Write information on compilers and dependencies
# includes information on mpi and cuda if applicable
$ cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/path/to/installation/prefix -C name-arch-compiler@version.cmake
$ make
$ make test  # optional
$ make install

The CachedCMakePackage class inherits from the CMakePackage class, and accepts all of the same options and adds all of the same flags to the cmake command. Similar to the CMakePAckage class, you may need to add a few arguments yourself, and the CachedCMakePackage provides the same interface to add those flags.

Adding entries to the CMake cache

In addition to adding flags to the cmake command, you may need to add entries to the CMake cache in the initconfig phase. This can be done by overriding one of four methods:

  1. CachedCMakePackage.initconfig_compiler_entries

  2. CachedCMakePackage.initconfig_mpi_entries

  3. CachedCMakePackage.initconfig_hardware_entries

  4. CachedCMakePackage.initconfig_package_entries

Each of these methods returns a list of CMake cache strings. The distinction between these methods is merely to provide a well-structured and legible cmake cache file – otherwise, entries from each of these methods are handled identically.

Spack also provides convenience methods for generating CMake cache entries. These methods are available at module scope in every Spack package. Because CMake parses boolean options, strings, and paths differently, there are three such methods:

  1. cmake_cache_option

  2. cmake_cache_string

  3. cmake_cache_path

These methods each accept three parameters – the name of the CMake variable associated with the entry, the value of the entry, and an optional comment – and return strings in the appropriate format to be returned from any of the initconfig* methods. Additionally, these methods may return comments beginning with the # character.

A typical usage of these methods may look something like this:

def initconfig_mpi_entries(self)
    # Get existing MPI configurations
    entries = super(self, Foo).initconfig_mpi_entries()

    # The existing MPI configurations key on whether ``mpi`` is in the spec
    # This spec has an MPI variant, and we need to enable MPI when it is on.
    # This hypothetical package controls MPI with the ``FOO_MPI`` option to
    # cmake.
    if '+mpi' in self.spec:
        entries.append(cmake_cache_option('FOO_MPI', True, "enable mpi"))
        entries.append(cmake_cache_option('FOO_MPI', False, "disable mpi"))

def initconfig_package_entries(self):
    # Package specific options
    entries = []

    entries.append('#Entries for build options')

    bar_on = '+bar' in self.spec
    entries.append(cmake_cache_option('FOO_BAR', bar_on, 'toggle bar'))

    entries.append('#Entries for dependencies')

    if self.spec['blas'].name == 'baz':  # baz is our blas provider
    entries.append(cmake_cache_string('FOO_BLAS', 'baz', 'Use baz'))
    entries.append(cmake_cache_path('BAZ_PREFIX', self.spec['baz'].prefix))

External documentation

For more information on CMake cache files, see: