Importing a C project into Eclipse CDT

I’m currently writing some C code. I have chosen to use Eclipse CDT as IDE. Eclipse is very powerful, but configuring it in the right way when starting a project can be complex. This article describes steps I followed to import some existing C code, creating a managed project. It is assumed that the reader has a basic knowledge of Eclipse.


For what follows, we will work with some sample code, stored in following file hierarchy:

Header files are stored in include directory, while source code is stored in src directory.

I’m using Eclipse Oxygen 1a Release, on Linux Mint 18.2.

Note: the code I develop must be portable. The first version I write targets Linux on Intel processor. That’s why I’ll use Linux GCC toolchain in what follows. Then, when I’m happy with the version running on Linux, I check that code works OK on other targets (FreeRTOS on STM32, Arduino, etc.) Of course, every OS- or hardware-dependent code is isolated and adapted to related target.

Importing source code

I want to import the existing source code into Eclipse, creating a managed project, i.e. a project where makefiles are automatically generated and maintained by Eclipse.

To do this:

  • File / New / Makefile Project with Existing Code
  • enter project name
  • select source code top-level directory
  • uncheck C++
  • select Linux GCC for toolchain

Configuring project

  • Project / Properties / C/C++ Build
  • check Generate Makefiles automatically

  • Project / Properties / C/C++ Build / Settings / Build Artifact
  • select Executable for Artifact Type

  • Project / C/C++ General / Paths and Symbols / Source Location
  • add source code directory

  • Project / Properties / C/C++ General / Paths and Symbols
  • in Languages column, select GNU C
  • click on Add… button
  • click on Workspace… button
  • select include directory

Building the project

  • Project / Build Project

Running resulting executable

  • Run / Run Configurations…
  • select C/C++ Application and click on the New launch configuration icon
  • check that Name, Project and C/C++ Application are filled in with the right values

The project is created under an Eclipse configuration named Default. You can create several configurations: one for debugging, one for releasing, etc.

To configure Eclipse CDT so that several different executables can be created in the same project, check this article.