What I am trying to accomplish is to include information about the state of my environment at build time in my code. For example, I may want the setup() code to print the git sha it was built against, and the time of build.

There are two related issues here:

  1. How to include that information in the code
  2. How to specify to the build environment what to generate in the first place.

The first can be addressed in a number of ways:

  • -D options can be generated at build time, and the corresponding defined macros expanded in the code. For example, the compiler could be invoked as g++ -DGIT_SHA=$(git rev-parse HEAD) -DDATE=$(date '+%Y%m%d-%H:%M:%S'), and my code could have something like #define strfy(_x) #_x followed by Serial.println(strfy(GIT_SHA));. Or the build tool could generate a header file that would define these as external string variables, which the main sketch could then include and print. Or any other number of tricks.

The question I am really asking is: how should I specify this sort of stuff for arduino-builder?

Ideally, it would be a custom recipe in platform.txt, but if there is a way to invoke shell commands in recipes and use the results to modify other variables (such as preproc.macro.flags), I haven't been able to find it (if there is documentation, it's really well hidden). Ideally I would want to be able to say preproc.macros.flags=-w -x c++ -E -CC -DGIT_SHA=$(git rev-parse HEAD) and have the shell command be executed at the point.

So, before I set out to hack arduino-builder, do people have any opinion on this? My main criterion is something that would be of general value and has a chance of being incorporated in the code, rather than a kludge that only works for me and which I have to patch every time I upgrade. Please do not suggest workarounds. I can think of several myself!

I did try to search, and this sort of issue has come up before, but I didn't see any satisfactory answers from people who knew what they were talking about.



2 Answers 2


That is a tough one... Because arduino-builder is basically a custom go script you don't get the facilities you get in a Makefile, like shell execution.

I would be inclined to do this kind of thing outside that environment - use some external program or tool to generate a config.h file (maybe use something like GNU Autotools) that contains your custom defines. That can then be #included in your sketch.


For the date and time of compilation there are predefined preprocessor symbols: __DATE__ and __TIME__.

  • Unfortunately these are at compile time and not at link time.
    – jantje
    Apr 6, 2016 at 15:55
  • Seems appropriate; the OP used compiler command-string examples.
    – JRobert
    Apr 6, 2016 at 17:37
  • I'm not stating it is inappropriate. I'm adding that this solution has a drawback. From experience I learned that a IDE that only builds changed files (like the newest versions of the arduino IDE) will end up with outdated dates and time on the Arduino.
    – jantje
    Apr 6, 2016 at 18:39

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