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Waf is a Python-based framework for configuring, compiling and installing applications. Here are perhaps the most important features of Waf:

  • Automatic build order: the build order is computed from input and output files, among others
  • Automatic dependencies: tasks to execute are detected by hashing files and commands
  • Performance: tasks are executed in parallel automatically, the startup time is meant to be fast (separation between configuration and build)
  • Flexibility: new commands and tasks can be added very easily through subclassing, bottlenecks for specific builds can be eliminated through dynamic method replacement
  • Extensibility: though many programming languages and compilers are already supported by default, many others are available as extensions
  • IDE support: Eclipse, Visual Studio and Xcode project generators (waflib/extras/)
  • Documentation: the application is based on a robust model documented in The Waf Book and in the API docs
  • Python compatibility: cPython 2.5 to 3.x, Jython 2.5, IronPython, and Pypy

Learn more about Waf by reading The Waf Book. For researchers and build system writers, Waf also provides a framework and examples for creating custom build systems and package distribution systems.

Download the project from our page on waf.io, consult the manual, the API documentation and the showcases and experiments.


Python >= 2.7 is required to generate the waf script:

$ python ./waf-light configure build


The Waf tools in waflib/extras are not added to the waf script. To add some of them, use the --tools switch. An absolute path can be passed if the module does not exist under the 'extras' folder:

$ ./waf-light --tools=swig

To customize the initialization, pass the parameter 'prelude'. Here is for example how to create a waf file using the compat15 module:

$ ./waf-light --tools=compat15 --prelude=$'\tfrom waflib.extras import compat15\n'

Although any kind of initialization is possible, using the build system kit may be easier (folder build_system_kit):

$ ./waf-light --make-waf --tools=compat15,/comp/waf/aba.py --prelude=$'\tfrom waflib.extras import compat15\n\tprint("ok")'

To avoid regenerating the waf file all the time, just set the WAFDIR environment variable to the directory containing "waflib".


Try this:

cp waf demos/c/
cd demos/c/
./waf configure build