[CMake] How to return a value from a macro

I’ll explain here, how one can return a value from a CMake macro.
I haven’t tested with other versions, but this is working with CMmake version 2.8.7.

Macro example

In the following example, one defines a macro named ‘test‘.
This macro accepts three arguments, which are, in this order, ‘placeholder‘, ‘valueOne‘ and ‘valueTwo‘.
The concatenation of the second and third arguments is set to the variable named ‘returnValue‘.

The trick

Now comes the trick:

  1. As its name implies the argument ‘placeholder‘ will act as a placeholder for the returned value, which is the value of the variable named ‘returnValue‘. This placeholder argument MUST be present and the first.
  2. When one call this macro ‘test‘, he MUST name its first parameter ‘returnValue‘.
  3. This ‘returnValue‘ variable MUST be initialized before the first call to the macro.


macro( test placeholder valueOne valueTwo )
	set( returnValue"${valueOne} / ${valueTwo}" )
endmacro( test )

set( returnValue "start" )
message( "var: ${returnValue}" )

test( ${returnValue} "A" "B" )
message( "var: ${returnValue}" )

test( ${returnValue} "1" "2" )
message( "var: ${returnValue}" )


Here is the result of the execution:

var: start
var: A / B
var: 1 / 2


Two actions:

  1. Add the placeholder argument, so the returned value can be retrieved outside of the macro.
  2. Name the variable which is carrying the returned value inside the macro like the variable which will take the value outside of the macro.

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