zx_* wrappers deprecation


Goal & motivation

Historically, Fuchsia's build system contained an inner build system to build a subset of the code that we loosely referred to as Zircon. This included the Zircon kernel and associated libraries, as well as code that was at some point organizationally or technically associated with the kernel or the people who worked on the kernel.

All the build definitions have since been migrated to a single system, but some build definitions still carry the legacy of the previous system. Particularly there still remain two legacy wrappers for build templates:

  • zx_library()
  • zx_host_tool()

These templates wrap other common build templates with some additional logic which was meant to enforce a common structure of C++ code and headers in Zircon. Over time they've evolved to carry other logic, such as for publishing artifacts to the SDK, that is also achieved by other templates, and hence is duplicate and may be confusing. Finally, some of the most common use cases can be achieved with standard GN target types, which are more familiar and well documented.

Technical background

General experience in working with BUILD.gn files is recommended but not entirely necessary. Please consult the GN reference{:.external} guide.

How to help

Picking a task

Start by finding any instance of zx_library or zx_host_tool in a build file.

zx_library("foo") {

Alternatively, there exists an allowlist listing all existing directories where the old templates are still being used, whether directly or indirectly via another wrapper. You can find the allowlist in //build/BUILD.gn. under the group "deprecated_zx_wrapper_allowlist".

Doing a task

Rewrite targets that use the zx_* wrappers using other templates.

Replace zx_library with one of the following:

  • source_set
  • sdk_source_set
  • static_library
  • sdk_static_library
  • shared_library
  • sdk_shared_library

Use build-in target types when possible

Often zx_library can be replaced with source_set or static_library, especially for code that won't be linked into the kernel.

Often zx_host_tool can be replaced with the built-in executable rule, using it with the host toolchain as you normally would for building a host binary.

executable("my-host-tool") {
  sources = [

# To build as a host tool, append the string "($host_toolchain)" to the
# dependency
group(...) {
  deps = [

If the tool is used in the SDK, then you may also need to define an sdk_atom target. There is a convenience wrapper at //build/sdk/sdk_host_tool.gni just for that.

Defining public headers

The zx_library template offered useful and convenient logic for defining C/C++ headers for public consumption by their dependents. This logic also promoted a consistent source layout for C/C++ includes.

You can now accomplish the same thing with a dedicated template. Where before you would define:


zx_library("foo_headers") {
  sdk = "source"
  sources = []
  sdk_headers = [ "foo.h" ]

source_set("foo_client") {
  sources = [ "foo.cc" ]
  deps = [ ":foo_headers" ]

Instead, define:


library_headers("foo_headers") {
  headers = [ "foo.h" ]

source_set("foo_client") {
  sources = [ "foo.cc" ]
  public_deps = [ ":foo_headers" ]

See also: 474231: [build] Add library_headers() template.

Completing a task

When preparing your change, make sure to remove any lines from //build/BUILD.gn listing the directories that you cleaned up.

Send the change for review using the regular process.



Reach out for questions or for status updates: