Building Spoofax

This section describes how to build Spoofax from scratch, on the command-line.

Supported platforms

OSX, Linux, and Windows are supported.


  1. Java JDK 8 is required for build the projects. The JAVA_HOME environment variable must point to the JDK root directory.
  2. Git 1.8.2 or higher is required to check out the source code from our GitHub repositories. Instructions on how to install Git for your platform can be found here: If you run OSX and have Homebrew installed, you can install Git by executing brew install git. Confirm your Git installation by executing git version.
  3. Maven 3.3.9 or higher is required to build Spoofax and StrategoXT, refer to the Setting up Maven section for instructions on how to install Maven.
  4. MetaBorg Maven artifacts are required since the build depends on artifacts from previous builds for bootstrapping purposes. Follow Using MetaBorg Maven artifacts to make these artifacts available to Maven.
  5. Python 3.4 or higher is used to orchestrate the build. Instructions on how to install Python for your platform can be found here: If you run OSX and have Homebrew installed, you can install Python by executing brew install python3. Confirm your Python installation by executing python3 --version.
  6. Pip 7.0.3 or higher is used to download some python dependencies. A version comes preinstalled with Python 3, but you need to make sure that you have version 7.0.3 or higher. To upgrade to the newest version use pip install --upgrade pip or pip3 install --upgrade pip, depending on if your OS uses a different pip for Python 3. Confirm using pip --version or pip3 --version.

Cloning the source code

Clone the source code from the spoofax-releng repository with the following commands:

git clone
cd spoofax-releng
git submodule update --init --remote --recursive

Cloning and updating submodules can take a while, since we have many submodules and some have a large history.


To build Spoofax, simply execute:

./b build all

This downloads the latest StrategoXT, and builds Spoofax. If you also want to build StrategoXT from scratch, execute:

./b build -st all

The -s flag build StrategoXT instead of downloading it, and -t skips the StrategoXT tests since they are very lengthy. The all part of the command indicates that we want to build all components. If you would only like to build the Java components of Spoofax, and skip the Eclipse plugins, execute:

./b build java

Use ./b build to get a list of components available for building, and ./b build --help for help on all the command-line flags and switches.


If you have opened a project in the repository in Eclipse, you must turn off Project ‣ Build Automatically in Eclipse, otherwise the Maven and Eclipse compilers will interfere and possibly fail the build. After the Maven build is finished, enable Build Automatically again.

Updating the source code

If you want to update the repository and submodules, execute:

git pull --rebase
./b checkout
./b update

The git pull command will update any changes in the main repository. The ./b checkout command will check out the correct branches in all submodules, because Git does not do this automatically. The ./b update command will update all submodules.

Switching to a different branch

Switching to a different branch, for example the spoofax-release branch, is done with the following commands:

git checkout spoofax-release
git pull --rebase
git submodule update --init --remote --recursive
./b checkout
./b update


Resetting and cleaning

If updating or checking out a branch of submodule fails (because of unstaged or conflicting changes), you can try to resolve it yourself, or you can reset and clean everything. Reset and clean all submodules using:

./b reset
./b clean


Resetting and cleaning DELETES UNCOMMITTED AND UNPUSHED CHANGES, which can cause PERMANENT DATA LOSS. Make sure all your changes are committed and pushed!

Weird compilation errors

If you get any weird compilation errors during the build, make sure that Project ‣ Build Automatically is turned off in Eclipse.



This part of the documentation has not been written yet.