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CMake: PUBLIC PRIVATE And INTERFACE Headers

There are 3 keywords in CMake target_include_directories:

  • PRIVATE : header files with this keyword will be add to current target’s include directories. We use this if header will be used by current target only.
  • INTERFACE : header files with this keyword will not be add to current target’s include directories, but will be treated as public headers of this library. We use it when headers are external only, current target will not use those during compiling.
  • PUBLIC : header files with this keyword will be performed with both PRIVATE and INTERFACE. In this case, both current target and external public header lists will be modified.

To combine with install, PUBLIC and INTERFACE headers should be installed to user. Taking PUBLIC as an example:

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set(INCS include/V4l2Capturer.h)
target_include_directories(${CMAKE_PROJECT_NAME} PUBLIC include)
set_target_properties(${CMAKE_PROJECT_NAME} PROPERTIES PUBLIC_HEADER ${INCS})

install(TARGETS ${CMAKE_PROJECT_NAME}
LIBRARY DESTINATION ${CMAKE_INSTALL_FULL_LIBDIR}
ARCHIVE DESTINATION ${CMAKE_INSTALL_FULL_LIBDIR}
PUBLIC_HEADER DESTINATION ${CMAKE_INSTALL_FULL_INCLUDEDIR})

We need to manually set PUBLIC_HEADER property for public headers, and install it with keyword PUBLIC_HEADER.