Building NW.js


Starting from 0.17, we switched to the new build configuration system GN and Ninja in Chromium upstream. The Node.js in NW is still build with GYP/Ninja
This document is written for latest NW 0.13 or later. For legacy build instructions, please read the wiki page on GitHub.
See our buildbot for official build configuration and steps:
Debug version should be built with component build configuration. See the discussion in upstream.


NW.js use same build tools and similar steps as Chromium. Read the instructions according to your platform to install depot_tools and other prerequistes:


As suggested by Chromium document, you need to run set DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN=0 or set the variable in your global environment.

Xcode 7

Mac SDK 10.11 as part of Xcode 7 is not supported yet. If you have upgraded to Xcode 7, either downgrade to Xcode 6 or copy Mac SDK 10.10 from other machines under `xcode-select -p`/Platforms/MacOSX.platform/Developer/SDKs as suggested by Chromium document.

Get the Code

Step 1. Create a folder for holding NW.js source code, like $HOME/nwjs, and run following command in the folder to generate .gclient file:

mkdir -p $HOME/nwjs
cd $HOME/nwjs
gclient config --name=src

Generally if you are not interested in running Chromium tests, you don’t have to sync the test cases and reference builds, which saves you lot of time. Open the .gclient file you just created and replace custom_deps section with followings:

"custom_deps" : {
    "src/third_party/WebKit/LayoutTests": None,
    "src/chrome_frame/tools/test/reference_build/chrome": None,
    "src/chrome_frame/tools/test/reference_build/chrome_win": None,
    "src/chrome/tools/test/reference_build/chrome": None,
    "src/chrome/tools/test/reference_build/chrome_linux": None,
    "src/chrome/tools/test/reference_build/chrome_mac": None,
    "src/chrome/tools/test/reference_build/chrome_win": None,

Manually clone and checkout correct branches for following repositories:

path repo

Step 2. Run following command in your terminal:

gclient sync --with_branch_heads

This usually downloads 20G+ from GitHub and Google’s Git repos. Make sure you have a good network provider and be patient :stuck_out_tongue:

When finished, you will see a src folder created in the same folder as .gclient.

First Build on Linux

If you are building on Linux for the first time, you need to run gclient sync --with_branch_heads --nohooks and then run ./build/ to install dependencies on Ubuntu. See Chromium document for detailed instructions of getting the source code.

Generate ninja build files with GN for Chromium

cd src
gn gen out/nw  (changing the 'nw' part of the path is not supported. You'd better not changing the 'out' part if you're new to this)

Use flags like our official build:


We support component build: is_component_build = true for faster development cycle. It should be used when you are trying to build debug version.

See the upstream documentation for the mapping between GN and GYP flags:

Generate ninja build files with GYP for Node

cd src
GYP_CHROMIUM_NO_ACTION=0 ./build/gyp_chromium -I third_party/node-nw/common.gypi third_party/node-nw/node.gyp

or use the following if you’re doing a component build:

./build/gyp_chromium -D component=shared_library -I third_party/node-nw/common.gypi third_party/node-nw/node.gyp

To change the build configuration for Node, you need to setup the GYP_DEFINES environment variable:

32-bit/64-bit Build

  • Windows
    • 32-bit: is the default build target
    • 64-bit: set GYP_DEFINES="target_arch=x64" and rebuild in out/Debug_x64 or out/Release_x64 folder
  • Linux
    • 32-bit: TODO: chroot
    • 64-bit: is the default build target
  • Mac
    • 32-bit: export GYP_DEFINES="host_arch=ia32 target_arch=ia32" and rebuild in out/Debug or out/Release folder
    • 64-bit: is the default build target

Build nwjs

ninja build files are generated in out/nw folder after you run GN. Run following command in your terminal will generate the Debug build of standard NW.js binaries in out/nw folder:

cd src
ninja -C out/nw nwjs

Build Time

Generally a full build takes hours of time depending on the performance of your machine. Recommended configuration is to build on a PC with multicore CPU (>=8 cores), SSD and large memory (>= 8G). And you can read Build Faster section below for some tips to speed up the build.

To build 32-bit/64-bit binaries or non-standard build flavors, you need to edit out/nw/ file And then re-run the commands above to generate binaries.

Build Node

cd src
ninja -C out/Release node

After building Node, the final step is to copy the build Node library to the nwjs binary folder:

cd src
ninja -C out/nw copy_node

Build Flavors

  • Standard: ‘nwjs_sdk=false’
  • SDK: enable_nacl=true

See Build Flavors for the differences of all supported build flavors.

Enable Proprietary Codecs

Due to the license issue, the prebuilt binaries of NW.js doesn’t support proprietary codecs, like H.264. So you can’t play MP3/MP4 with <audio> and <video> tags with prebuilt NW.js. To enable those medias, you have to build NW.js from source code by following the document of Enable Proprietary Codecs.

Build Faster

From Google’s website, there are a few tips to speed up your build. Open the links below to see the tips for your platform: