Building NW.js


This document is written for latest NW 0.13. For legacy build instructions, please read the wiki page on GitHub.


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.
CLang is the build tool used by non-Windows platforms. On Windows, it’s not supported yet. You need to run set GYP_DEFINES="clang=0" to disable CLang on Windows before going to next steps.

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,

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.

First Build on Windows

On Windows, you have to install DirectX SDK and copy the files into the source folder manually using following bash command:

mkdir -p $HOME/nwjs/src/third_party/directxsdk/files
cp -r /c/Program\ Files\ \(x86\)/Microsoft\ DirectX\ SDK\ \(June\ 2010\)/* \


Build files are generated in out/ folder during gclient sync. Run following command in your terminal will generate the Debug build of standard NW.js binaries in out/Debug folder:

cd src
ninja -C out/Debug 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 generate Release build, switch the second command to ninja -C out/Release nwjs.

To build 32-bit/64-bit binaries or non-standard build flavors, you need to setup GYP_DEFINES variable in your environment and run gclient runhooks --force to generate build files. And then re-run the commands above to generate binaries. Continue to read following sections to find out how to setup GYP_DEFINES.

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 Flavors

  • Standard: it’s generated by default. Same as GYP_DEFINES="nwjs_sdk=0 disable_nacl=1".
  • SDK: GYP_DEFINES="nwjs_sdk=1 disable_nacl=0"
  • NaCl: GYP_DEFINES="disable_nacl=0"

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: