NetCDF  4.9.0
Build Instructions for NetCDF-C using CMake


Starting with netCDF-C 4.3.0, we are happy to announce the inclusion of CMake support. CMake will allow for building netCDF on a wider range of platforms, include Microsoft Windows with Visual Studio. CMake support also provides robust unit and regression testing tools. We will also maintain the standard autotools-based build system in parallel.

In addition to providing new build options for netCDF-C, we will also provide pre-built binary downloads for the shared versions of netCDF for use with Visual Studio.


The following packages are required to build netCDF-C using CMake.

  • netCDF-C Source Code
  • CMake version 2.8.12 or greater.
  • Optional Requirements:
    • HDF5 Libraries for netCDF4/HDF5 support.
    • libcurl for DAP support.

The CMake Build Process

There are four steps in the Build Process when using CMake

  1. Configuration: Before compiling, the software is configured based on the desired options.
  2. Building: Once configuration is complete, the libraries are compiled.
  3. Testing: Post-build, it is possible to run tests to ensure the functionality of the netCDF-C libraries.
  4. Installation: If all tests pass, the libraries can be installed in the location specified during configuration.

For users who prefer pre-built binaries, installation packages are available at Installing and Using netCDF-C Libraries in Windows


The output of the configuration step is a project file based on the appropriate configurator specified. Common configurators include:

  • Unix Makefiles
  • Visual Studio
  • CodeBlocks
  • ... and others

Common CMake Options

Option Autotools CMake
Specify Install Location –prefix=PREFIX -D"CMAKE\_INSTALL\_PREFIX=PREFIX"
Enable/Disable netCDF-4 –enable-netcdf-4
Enable/Disable DAP –enable-dap
Enable/Disable Utilities –enable-utilities
Specify shared/Static Libraries –enable-shared
Enable/Disable Tests –enable-testsets
Specify a custom library location Use CFLAGS and LDFLAGS -D"CMAKE\_PREFIX\_PATH=/usr/custom_libs/"

A full list of basic options can be found by invoking cmake [Source Directory] -L. To enable a list of basic and advanced options, one would invoke cmake [Source Directory] -LA.

Configuring your build from the command line.

The easiest configuration case would be one in which all of the dependent libraries are installed on the system path (in either Unix/Linux or Windows) and all the default options are desired. From the build directory (often, but not required to be located within the source directory):

$ cmake [Source Directory]

If you have libraries installed in a custom directory, you may need to specify the CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH variable to tell cmake where the libraries are installed. For example:

$ cmake [Source Directory] -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/usr/custom_libraries/


The compiler can be executed directly with 'make' or the appropriate command for the configurator which was used.

$ make

Building can also be executed indirectly via cmake:

$ cmake –build [Build Directory]


Testing can be executed several different ways:

$ make test


$ ctest


$ cmake –build [Build Directory] –target test


Once netCDF has been built and tested, it may be installed using the following commands:

$ make install


$ cmake –build [Build Directory] –target install

See Also

For further information regarding NetCDF and CMake, see CMake-Related Frequently Asked Questions