Building Starboard

Starboard currently uses GYP as the basis of its build system, though there is already some movement towards GN as a replacement.

While you can integrate Starboard into any build system, there are enough knobs and dials that it would be a daunting effort. Instead, Starboard tries to provide a functional build framework that an application developer can easily integrate with.

The Flow

The basic flow of how Starboard builds is:

  1. starboard/build/gyp - Parse command line parameters and pass them into GypRunner.
  2. starboard/build/
    1. Load the PlatformConfiguration.
    2. Load the ApplicationConfiguration.
    3. Calculate and merge the GYP includes, GYP variables, environment variables, and generator variables, and pass them into GYP.
  3. tools/gyp - Parse all the .gyp and included .gypi files, generate ninja.
  4. ninja - Build all the source files.

The Platform vs. the Application

In this documentation, you will see a lot of discussion about things being Platform or Application concerns.

The Platform is more-or-less what you think it is -- Everything you might need to build any Starboard Application on a given platform.

It helps to think about an Application as a broader concept than a single program. From Starboard‘s build system’s perspective, an Application is a single configuration of build variables per platform, which may produce many build targets beyond a single executable - shared libraries, tests, and so on.

Application Customization

Each Application will probably want to define its own knobs, dials, and defaults to be able to be customized per platform, and so Starboard provides a space for the Application to do that.

Each Application can provide a platform-specific ApplicationConfiguration instance by creating a python module in <platform-directory>/<application-name>/ This module must contain a class definition that extends from If the class is not found in the platform-specific location, a generic configuration will be loaded, as dictated by the APPLICATIONS registry in

Additionally, the Application can provide a GYPI file to be included at <platform-directory>/<application-name>/configuration.gypi. This will, by default, be included at the end of all other configuration GYPI files, but this behavior can be arbitrarily customized by the loaded ApplicationConfiguration class.

HOWTO: Create a new Application

  1. Create your Application's root .gyp file. Often called all.gyp or something similar.

  2. Create a cross-platform ApplicationConfiguration python class for your application. Take a look at as an example.

    Define a subclass of and override any desired methods. In particular, you probably at least want to override the GetDefaultTargetBuildFile() method to point at your root .gyp file from step 1.

  3. Register your Application in your file in your source tree root.

    To do this, just add an entry to the APPLICATIONS Mapping that maps your canonical Application name to the cross-platform ApplicationConfiguration subclass constructor for your application.

        # ...
        'example_app': example_app.ExampleAppConfiguration
        # ...

At this point, you should be able to build your application with:

starboard/build/gyp -a <application-name>