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IDE Integration

Visual Studio Code#

Visual Studio Code needs to know some things about the project such as include paths and compiler paths before features such as code completion, go to definition, and graying out disabled code blocks will work. Fortunately, CMake can generate that configuration for us automatically.

Create a Compilation Database#

To configure west to tell CMake to generate a compilation database, open a terminal to the ZMK repository and run the following command:

west config build.cmake-args -- -DCMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS=ON

Every build will now update the database. You will need to build once to create the database before code completion will work. We'll tell Visual Studio Code where to find the database in the next step.


If you have set any other CMake arguments such as the path to your zmk-config, the above command will overwrite them. You should instead provide the flag to export compile commands and all other arguments surrounded by quotes. For example:

west config build.cmake-args -- "-DCMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS=ON -DZMK_CONFIG=/path/to/zmk-config/config"

Create a C/C++ Configuration#

Install the C/C++ extension, then run F1 > C/C++: Edit Configurations (UI). It should automatically create a new configuration for you, but if the text box under Configuration name is empty, click Add Configuration, enter a name, and click OK.

Change these options:

Compiler pathPath to your toolchain's GCC binary (see below)
IntelliSense modegcc-arm
Advanced Settings > Compiler commands${workspaceFolder}/app/build/compile_commands.json

Compiler Path#

Open VS Code's integrated terminal and run the following commands. It will print your compiler path.

source zephyr/
echo ${ZEPHYR_SDK_INSTALL_DIR}/arm-zephyr-eabi/bin/arm-zephyr-eabi-gcc

You will need to update this path any time you switch to a new version of the Zephyr SDK.

Compiler Commands Path#

When building with all default options, the path to the compilation database file is ${workspaceFolder}/app/build/compile_commands.json as shown in the table above, however some arguments to west build can change this path.

The -d or --build-dir option lets you change the build directory to something other than build. Replace build in the above path with what you set this to. For example, if you build with -d build/my_shield, the path is ${workspaceFolder}/app/build/my_shield/compile_commands.json. If you use this to keep builds for multiple keyboards separate, you may want to create a separate C/C++ configuration for each one in VS Code.

You can also build from the root folder of the project instead of the app folder by adding -S app to your CMake arguments. In this case, simply remove app from the path to compile_commands.json, for example, ${workspaceFolder}/build/compile_commands.json.