GYP->GN Conversion Cookbook


'type': 'static_library', 'name': 'foo',static_library("foo") { or source_set("foo") {
'type': 'shared_library', 'name': 'foo',shared_library("foo") {
'type': 'loadable_module', 'name': 'foo',loadable_module("foo") {
'type': '<(component)', 'name': 'foo',component("foo") {
'type': 'executable', 'name': 'foo',executable("foo") {
'type': '<(gtest_target_type)', 'name': 'foo',test("foo") {
'type': 'none', 'name': 'foo',group("foo") {

Note on static libraries

A source_set is basically a transparent static_library. The source files are compiled with the given options but not linked into anything. Targets that depend on a source set get the source set's object files linked into it. This saves the overhead of creating a static library on disk, avoids weird linker issues when a static library has no source files, and you can link source sets into shared libraries and have symbols exported from the shared library.

The last issue is a cause of a lot of headaches in the GYP build. If you annotate a symbol as exported (i.e. BASE_EXPORT) then you can‘t have it in a file that goes into a static library because the function might be stripped out if it’s not called from within the static library. This prevents composing components of static libraries and exporting their symbols. A source set avoids this issue and EXPORT has the desired meaning of “export from the component this gets linked into” with no surprising dead code stripping behavior.

A disadvantage of source sets is that if an object file is completely unused, it will still be linked into the result, which is not the case for static libraries. A few places in the build depend on this behavior (deliberately or accidentally). In general, small libraries that we expect to be entirely used, test helpers, etc. can be source sets. There is slightly less risk of subtle issues if you keep static libraries static libraries, however.



  'action_name': 'foo',
  'inputs': [ '' ],
  'outputs': [ '<(SHARED_INTERMEDIATE_DIR)/bar.out' ],
  'action': ['python', '', '--la_dee_da' ],

Unlike GYP, where an action is a part of a target, GN actions are separate targets that you then depend on via deps from other targets:

action("foo") {
  script = ""
  outputs = [ "$target_gen_dir/bar.out" ]
  args = [ "--la_dee_da" ]

executable("foo.exe") {
  deps = [ ":foo" ]  # Depend on the action to make sure it runs.

Rules in GYP become action_foreach in GN which work like actions but iterate over a set of sources.



'copies': [
    'destination': '<(PRODUCT_DIR)/',
    'files': [

Unlike GYP, where copies are part of a target, GN copies are separate targets that you then depend on via deps from other targets:

copy("bar") {
  sources = [ "../path/to/secret.dll" ]
  outputs = [ "$root_out_dir/{{source_file_part}}" ]

component("base") {
  deps = [ "bar" }  # Depend on the copy to make sure it runs.

Platform checking

'conditions': [['OS=="win"', {if (is_win) {
'conditions': [['OS=="linux"', {if (is_linux) {
'conditions': [['OS=="android"', {if (is_android) {
'conditions': [['OS=="mac"', {if (is_mac) {
'conditions': [['OS=="ios"', {if (is_ios) {
'conditions': [['chromeos==1', {if (is_chromeos) {

Typical sources and deps modifications


'sources': [
'dependencies': [
'conditions': [
  ['OS=="win"': {
    'sources!': [
    'sources': [
    'dependencies': [
  }, {
    'sources/': [
      ['exclude', '^b\\.cc$'],


sources = [
deps = [

if (is_win) {
  sources += [
  deps += [ "//base:bar" ]
} else {
  sources += [ "" ]

Note that in GN we prefer to only add files when needed, and don't add all of them at first only to remove them later like in gyp.

Variable mappings

Build configuration

Build configuration and feature flags are usually global in GYP. In GN we try to limit global variables and instead put variables used by only some files into .gni files. These files are then imported into your buildfile by specifying at the top:


# ... now you can use the variables declared in features.gni.
if (is_tsan) {
  # ...
if (cld_version == 2) {
  # ...

Other flags only apply to one file and those flags are declared directly in that file (so other files can't use them). These places are noted in the table below.

GYPGNGN import
arm_neon (0/1)arm_use_neon (true/false)//build/config/arm.gni
arm_neon_optional (0/1)arm_optionally_use_neon (true/false)//build/config/arm.gni
asan (0/1)is_asan (true/false)//build/config/sanitizers/sanitizers.gni
branding (“Chromium”/“Chrome”)is_chrome_branded (true/false)//build/config/chrome_build.gni
build_for_tool=="drmemory"enable_iterator_debugging=false(internal to //build/config/
build_for_tool=="tsan"enable_iterator_debugging=false(internal to //build/config/
buildtype (“Official”/“Dev”)is_official_build (true/false)//build/config/chrome_build.gni
chrome_multiple_dll (0/1)is_multi_dll_chrome (true/false)//build/config/chrome_build.gni
clang (0/1)is_clang (true/false)(global)
clang_use_chrome_plugins (0/1)clang_use_chrome_plugins (true/false)(internal to //build/config/clang/
component (“shared_library”/“static_library”)is_component_build (true/false)(global)
desktop_linux (0/1)is_desktop_linux (true/false)(global)
disable_glibcxx_debug (0/1)enable_iterator_debugging (true/false)(internal to //build/config/
fastbuild (0/1/2)symbol_level (2/1/0 — values inverted)//build/config/compiler/compiler.gni
ios_deployment_target (string)ios_deployment_target//build/config/ios/ios_sdk.gni
GYP_MSVS_OVERRIDE_PATH environment variablevisual_studio_path//build/config/win/visual_studio_version.gni
GYP_MSVS_VERSION environment variable(none)
ios_sdk_pathios_sdk_path and use_ios_simulator//build/config/ios/ios_sdk.gni
lsan (0/1)is_lsan (true/false)//build/config/sanitizers/sanitizers.gni
msan (0/1)is_msan (true/false)//build/config/sanitizers/sanitizers.gni
SDKROOT (Mac)sysroot//build/config/sysroot.gni
target_arch (“ia32”/“x64”/“arm”/“mipsel”)target_cpu (“x86”/“x64”/“arm”/“mipsel”)(global)
toolkit_views (0/1)toolkit_views//build/config/ui.gni
tsan (0/1)is_tsan (true/false)//build/config/sanitizers/sanitizers.gni
windows_sdk_pathwindows_sdk_path(internal to //build/config/win/

Feature flags

GYPGNGN import
cld_version (number)cld_version (number)//build/config/features.gni
configuration_policy (0/1)enable_configuration_policy (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
debug_devtools (0/1)debug_devtools (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
disable_ftp_support (0/1)disable_ftp_support (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
disable_nacl (0/1)enable_nacl (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_app_list (0/1)enable_app_list (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_autofill_dialog (0/1)enable_autofill_dialog (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_background (0/1)enable_background (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_captive_portal_detection (0/1)enable_captive_portal_detection (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_chromevox_next (0/1)enable_chromevox_next (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_extensions (0/1)enable_extensions (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_google_now (0/1)enable_google_now (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_hidpi (0/1)enable_hidpi (true/false)//ui/base/ui_features.gni
enable_managed_users (0/1)enable_managed_users (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_mdns (0/1)enable_mdns (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_one_click_signin (0/1)enable_one_click_signin (true/false)//chrome/common/features.gni
enable_pepper_cdms (0/1)enable_pepper_cdms (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_plugins (0/1)enable_plugins (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_plugin_installation (0/1)enable_plugin_installation (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_basic_printing (0/1)enable_basic_printing (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_print_preview (0/1)enable_print_preview (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_rlz (0/1)enable_rlz (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_spellcheck (0/1)enable_spellcheck (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_session_service (0/1)enable_session_service (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_task_manager (0/1)enable_task_manager (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_themes (0/1)enable_themes (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
enable_webrtc (0/1)enable_webrtc (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
image_loader_extension (0/1)enable_image_loader_extension (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
input_speech (0/1)enable_speech_input (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
notifications (0/1)enable_notifications (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
ozone_platform_dri (0/1)ozone_platform_dri (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
remoting (0/1)enable_remoting (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
safe_browsing (0/1/2)safe_browsing_mode (0/1/2)//build/config/features.gni
use_allocator ('none''tcmalloc')use_allocator ("none"
ui_compositor_image_transport (0/1)ui_compositor_image_transport (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_ash (0/1)use_ash (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_athena (0/1)use_athena (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_aura (0/1)use_aura (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_brlapi (0/1)use_brlapi (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
use_cairo (0/1)use_cairo (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_clipboard_aurax11 (0/1)use_aura && use_x11
use_cups (0/1)use_cups (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
use_dbus (0/1)use_dbus (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
use_gconf (0/1)use_gconf (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
use_glib (0/1)is_linux (true/false)(global)
use_gnome_keyring (0/1)use_gnome_keyring (true/false)
use_goma (0/1)use_goma (true/false)//build/toolchain/goma.gni
use_nss_certs (0/1)use_nss_certs (true/false)//build/config/crypto.gni (Many of these conditions can be deleted, see the “SSL” notes on targets below.)
use_pango (0/1)use_pango (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_ozone (0/1)use_ozone (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_seccomp_bpf (0/1)use_seccomp_bpf (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
use_udev (0/1)use_udev (true/false)//build/config/features.gni
use_x11 (0/1)use_x11 (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
use_xi2_mt (0/1)use_xi2_mt (true/false)//build/config/ui.gni
win_use_allocator_shim (0/1)(See “Allocator” below)

Common target conversion

Some targets that lots of projects depend on and how the GN ones correspond to GYP ones. (This is for commonly-depended-on or weird targets only, don't add stuff here just because you converted it.)

GYPGNNotes (see below)
build/linux/system.gyp:* (except nss)//build/config/linux:*Linux system targets
testing/gmock.gyp:gmock//testing/gmockSecondary tree
testing/gtest.gyp:gtest//testing/gtestSecondary treeo
third_party/icu/icu.gyp:icui18n//third_party/icuSecondary tree, ICU
third_party/icu/icu.gyp:icuuc//third_party/icuSecondary tree, ICU


  • ICU: GN has separate //third_party/icu:icuuc and //third_party/icu:icui18n targets just like GYP. You can use these if you only need one of them. Most targets want both, so GN made a meta target that's just //third_party/icu which you can use that redirects to both “uc” and “i18n”.

  • Linux system targets: Generally the names in GN patch the GYP names for the Linux system-related stuff. However, most of them are configs instead of actual targets (in GYP they‘re all targets). For example, since “x11” is just a list of libraries and include directories, and includes no sources it’s a config that just adds this configuration to your target. To use a config, do configs += [ "//build/config/linux:x11" ]

  • Secondary tree: Some projects are DEPSed in and we want it to look like a file is in that directory without checking it in to the upstream repo. The directory build/secondary mirrors the main tree and is checked for files if an expected file in the main tree wasn't found.

  • SSL: In GYP there are lots of conditions around NSS vs. OpenSSL and different platforms that determine which of the different SSL libraries is linked. In GN, there is a meta-target //crypto:platform that will “do the right thing” according to the current build platform and flags. Generally its safe to replace any conditional reference to a SSL library with this one.

Visibility and header file issues

GN is much more strict about header file checking. You may encounter errors that your target doesn‘t depend on the target containing a certain header file. The most common example is including base/macros.h without having //base in your project’s dependency list. The solution is to just add the missing dependency.

The dependency tree must be a DAG. Some components might share headers between a number of internal targets that makes adding the “proper” dependencies impossible. In this case, you can separate out a source_set type target containing just the header(s) in question, and make the targets that use that header depend on that source set to break the cycle.

Other stuff

Target conditions

target_conditions are like normal conditions but expanded in a different phase of GYP. You can generally just convert the conditions inside and not worry about the conditions/target_conditions difference.


Some xcode settings are obvious:

  'xcode_settings': {'OTHER_LDFLAGS': ['-foo']},

Should just expand to:

  ldflags = [ "-foo" ]

Other flags are less obvious:

  'xcode_settings': { 'GCC_SYMBOLS_PRIVATE_EXTERN': 'NO', },

These all correspond to various flags that get passed to the compiler or linker. You can use your favorite search engine to see what it corresponds to, but many of them are not well documented. You can also search for the string in tools/gyp/pylib/gyp/ GYP uses this file to decode the Xcode settings into command line flags for the ninja build.

wexit-time destructors


'enable_wexit_time_destructors': 1,


configs += [ "//build/config/compiler:wexit_time_destructors" ]

Chromium code

In GYP code is “non-Chromium” by default, and you opt into higher warning levels using:

'chromium_code': 1,

In GN, all code is Chromium code by default. If you're compiling a static library that needs more lax warnings, opt out of the Chromium-code settings with:

configs -= [ "//build/config/compiler:chromium_code" ]
configs += [ "//build/config/compiler:no_chromium_code" ]


All symbols in the build have “hidden” visibility by default (this means that symbols aren‘t exported from shared libraries, a concept different than GN’s target visibility). If you needed to export all symbols (for a third party library) by default in GYP you would do:

'xcode_settings': [
  'GCC_SYMBOLS_PRIVATE_EXTERN': 'NO',  # no -fvisibility=hidden
'cflags!': [

In GN the equivalent is:

if (!is_win) {
  configs -= [ "//build/config/gcc:symbol_visibility_hidden" ]

Dependent settings

In GYP you'll see stuff like this, especially in third-party code.

'direct_dependent_settings': {
  'include_dirs': [
    '.',  # This directory.
    '../..',  # Root "src" path.
  'defines': [

Note that many of the includes are trying to add the root “src” directory to the include path. This is always present in GN so you can remove these.

GYP also requires you to duplicate these settings, once for the target itself, and once for the direct/all dependent settings. In GN, public/all dependent configs also apply to the current target so you only need to specify it once.

In GN, put the settings in a config (declared above your target), and then reference that as a public config in your target:

config("foo_config") {
  include_dirs = [ "." ]
  defines = [ "FOO" ]

component("foo") {
  public_configs = [ ":foo_config" ]

Targets that depend on foo will now get foo_config applied.

GYP would say export_dependent_settings to forward direct_dependent_settings up the dependency chain. In GN, put the dependency in the public_deps section and this will happen automatically.

MSVS disabled warnings

In GYP you'll see for third-party code:

'msvs_disabled_warnings': [ 4018, 4244, 4267, ],

At least half of the warnings in these blocks are already disabled globally (we added more global ones later). From the command line, do:

$ cd src/build/config
$ git grep 4018
compiler/      "/wd4018",  # Comparing signed and unsigned values.

tells us that warning 4018 is already disabled globally from the default_warning_flags variable in //build/config/compiler, and the same for 4244. So ignore these.

Always comment what the warning is. Use your favorite search engine and type “vc warning 4267” to look it up. You'll end up with:

if (is_win) {
  cflags += [
    "/wd4267",  # Conversion from size_t to 'type'.

(Use = instead of += is you haven't already defined a cflags variable.)

Mac frameworks

GN knows to convert .framework files in the libs list to the right thing on Mac. You don't need to specify the directories either. So convert this:

'link_settings': {
  'libraries': [

to this:

libs = [ "Accelerate.framework" ]


GYP code sometimes sets

  'hard_dependency': 1,

to indicate that the current target must be build before its dependents. GN can deduce this internally, so you can ignore this directive.


GYP has win_use_allocator_shim and use_allocator. In GN, these are merged into use_allocator which is defined in //build/config/allocator.gni. However you should almost never need to use this flag. The //base/allocator target will change depending on the current allocator flag, so you can unconditionally depend on this target to pick up the current build defaults.


  ['use_allocator!='none'', {
    'dependencies': [ '../base/allocator/allocator.gyp:allocator' ]
  ['win_use_allocator_shim==1', {
    'dependencies': [ '<(allocator_target)' ],


  deps = [ "//base/allocator" ]

As in GYP, the allocator should only be depended on by executables (and tests). Libraries should not set the allocator.

optimize: max

In Gyp:

'optimize': 'max',

only affects Windows and will optimize for speed rather than size. To get the same behavior in GN, do:

if (!is_debug && is_win) {
  configs -= [ "//build/config/compiler:default_optimization" ]
  configs += [ "//build/config/compiler:optimize_max" ]

The is_win check is needed because the optimize_max config also affects Posix systems. Some components might additionally specify -O2 on Posix further optimize, in which case you can remove the is_win check.



proto_library("myproto") {
  sources = [ "foo.proto" ]

See the third_party/protobuf/proto_library.gni file for full documentation and extra flags.

Java stuff

JNI generator in GYP:

  'target_name': 'foo_headers',
  'type': 'none',
  'sources': [ <java files> ]
  'variables': { 'jni_gen_package': 'foobar' }
  'includes': [ 'build/jni_generator.gypi' ]

JNI generator in GN:

# At top of file:
if (is_android) {

# Later:
if (is_android) {
  generate_jni("foo_headers") {
    sources = [ <java files> ]
    jni_package = "foobar"



grit("resources") {
  source = "my_resources.grd"

See src/build/secondary/tools/grit/grit_rule.gni for more documentation.



mojom("mojo_bindings") {
  sources = [