Under the tools module there are several functions and utilities that can be used in conan package recipes:

 from conans import ConanFile
 from conans import tools

 class ExampleConan(ConanFile):


Returns the number of CPUs available, for parallel builds. If processor detection is not enabled, it will safely return 1. Can be overwritten with the environment variable CONAN_CPU_COUNT and configured in the conan.conf file.


This function returns, for given settings, the command that should be called to load the Visual Studio environment variables for a certain Visual Studio version. It does not execute the command, as that typically have to be done in the same command as the compilation, so the variables are loaded for the same subprocess. It will be typically used in the build() method, like this:

from conans import tools

def build(self):
    if self.settings.os == "Windows":
        vcvars = tools.vcvars_command(self.settings)
        build_command = ..."%s && configure %s" % (vcvars, " ".join(args)))"%s && %s %s" % (vcvars, build_command, " ".join(build_args)))

The vcvars_command string will contain something like call "%vsXX0comntools%../../VC/vcvarsall.bat" for the corresponding Visual Studio version for the current settings.

This is typically not needed if using CMake, as the cmake generator will handle the correct Visual Studio version.


Returns the command to call devenv and msbuild to build a Visual Studio project. It’s recommended to use it along with vcvars_command(), so that the Visual Studio tools will be in path.

build_command = build_sln_command(self.settings, "myfile.sln", targets=["SDL2_image"])
command = "%s && %s" % (tools.vcvars_command(self.settings), build_command)


  • settings Conanfile settings, pass “self.settings”
  • sln_path Visual Studio project file path
  • targets List of targets to build
  • upgrade_project True/False. If True, the project file will be upgraded if the project’s VS version is older than current


Returns a string with a joint command consisting in setting the environment variables via vcvars.bat with the above tools.vcvars_command() function, and building a Visual Studio project with the tools.build_sln_command() function.


Exactly the same arguments as the above tools.build_sln_command()


Function mainly used in source(), but could be used in build() in special cases, as when retrieving pre-built binaries from the Internet.

This function accepts .tar.gz, .tar, .tzb2, .tar.bz2, .tgz and .zip files, and decompress them into the given destination folder (the current one by default).

from conans import tools

# or to extract in "myfolder" sub-folder
tools.unzip("", "myfolder")

For the .zip files you can keep the permissions using the keep_permissions=True parameter. WARNING: It can be dangerous if the zip file was not created in a NIX system, it could produce undefined permission schema. So, use only this option if you are sure that the zip file was created correctly:

from conans import tools

tools.unzip("", "myfolder", keep_permissions=True)


Extract tar gz files (or in the family). This is the function called by the previous unzip() for the matching extensions, so generally not needed to be called directly, call unzip() instead unless the file had a different extension.

from conans import tools

# or to extract in "myfolder" sub-folder
tools.untargz("myfile.tar.gz", "myfolder")


Just a high level wrapper for download, unzip, and remove the temporary zip file once unzipped. Its implementation is very straightforward:

def get(url):
    filename = os.path.basename(url)
    download(url, filename)

Retrieves a file from a given URL into a file with a given filename. It uses certificates from a list of known verifiers for https downloads, but this can be optionally disabled. You can also specify the number of retries in case of fail with retry parameter and the seconds to wait before download attempts with retry_wait.

from conans import tools"http://someurl/", "")
# to disable verification:"http://someurl/", "", verify=False)
# to retry the download 2 times waiting 5 seconds between them"http://someurl/", "", retry=2, retry_wait=5)


Retrieves a file from an FTP server. Right now it doesn’t support SSL, but you might implement it yourself using the standard python FTP library, and also if you need some special functionality.

def ftp_download(ip, filename, login='', password='')

  • ip: The IP or address of the ftp server
  • filename: The filename, including the path/folder where it is located
  • login/password: optional credentials to the ftp server


def source(self):
    tools.ftp_download('', "debian/README")"README"))


This function is useful for a simple “patch” or modification of source files. A typical use would be to augment some library existing CMakeLists.txt in the source() method, so it uses conan dependencies without forking or modifying the original project:

def replace_in_file(file_path, search, replace, strict=True)

from conans import tools

def source(self):
    # get the sources from somewhere
   tools.replace_in_file("hello/CMakeLists.txt", "PROJECT(MyHello)", '''PROJECT(MyHello)

If the strict parameter is True (default) it will be raise an error if the introduced “search” string is not found, so nothing is actually replaced.


Useful to check that some downloaded file or resource has a predefined hash, so integrity and security are guaranteed. Something that could be typically done in source() method after retrieving some file from the internet.

There are specific methods for common algorithms:

  • check_sha1(file_path, signature)
  • check_md5(file_path, signature)
  • check_sha256(file_path, signature)
from conans import tools

tools.check_sha1("", "eb599ec83d383f0f25691c184f656d40384f9435")

Other algorithms are also possible, as long as are recognized by python hashlib implementation, via The previous is equivalent to:

from conans import tools

tools.check_with_algorithm_sum("sha1", "",


Applies a patch from a file or from a string into the given path. The patch should be in diff (unified diff) format. To be used mainly in the source() method.

from conans import tools

# from a string:
patch_content = " real patch content ..."
# to apply in subfolder
tools.patch(base_path=mysubfolder, patch_string=patch_content)

If the patch to be applied uses alternate paths that have to be stripped, like:

--- old_path/text.txt\t2016-01-25 17:57:11.452848309 +0100
+++ new_path/text_new.txt\t2016-01-25 17:57:28.839869950 +0100
@@ -1 +1 @@
- old content
+ new content

Then it can be done specifying the number of folders to be stripped from the path:

patch(patch_file="file.patch", strip=1)


This is a context manager that allows to temporary use environment variables for a specific piece of code in your conanfile:

from conans import tools

def build(self):
    with tools.environment_append({"MY_VAR": "3", "CXX": "/path/to/cxx"}):

When the context manager block ends, the environment variables will be unset.


This is a context manager that allows to temporary change the current directory in your conanfile:

from conans import tools

def build(self):
    with tools.chdir("./subdir"):


This is a context manager that allows to load the PYTHONPATH for dependent packages, create packages with python code, and reuse that code into your own recipes.

from conans import tools

def build(self):
    with tools.pythonpath(self):
        from module_name import whatever

For that to work, one of the dependencies of the current recipe, must have a module_name file or folder with a whatever file or object inside, and should have declared in its package_info():

from conans import tools

def package_info(self):


Will return a string from a given number of bytes, rounding it to the most appropriate unit: Gb, Mb, Kb, etc. It is mostly used by the conan downloads and unzip progress, but you can use it if you want too.

from conans import tools

>> 1Kb

tools.OSInfo and tools.SystemPackageTool

These are helpers to install system packages. Check system_requirements()


Reading the settings and the current host machine it returns True if we are cross building a conan package:

if tools.cross_building(self.settings):
    # Some special action


Runs an unix command inside the msys2 environment. It requires to have MSYS2 in the path. Useful to build libraries using configure and make in Windows. Check Building with Autotools section.

You can customize the path of the bash executable using the environment variable CONAN_BASH_PATH or the conan.conf bash_path variable to change the default bash location.

from conans import tools

command = "pwd"
tools.run_in_windows_bash(self, command) # self is a conanfile instance


Used to translate Windows paths to MSYS/CYGWIN unix paths like c/users/path/to/file


Useful to escape commands to be executed in a windows bash (msys2, cygwin etc).

  • Adds escapes so the argument can be unpacked by CommandLineToArgvW()
  • Adds escapes for cmd.exe so the argument survives cmd.exe’s substitutions.

tools.sha1sum(), sha256sum(), md5sum(), md5()

Return the respective hash or checksum for a file:

sha1 = tools.sha1sum("myfilepath.txt")
md5 = tools.md5("some string, not a file path"), tools.load()

Utility methods to load and save files, in one line. They will manage the open and close of the file, encodings and creating directories if necessary

content = tools.load("myfile.txt")"otherfile.txt", "contents of the file")

tools.mkdir(), tools.rmdir()

Utility methods to create/delete a directory. The existance of the specified directory is checked. I.e. mkdir() will do nothing if the directory already exists and rmdir() will do nothing if the directory does not exists. This makes it safe to use these functions in the package() method of a when no_copy_source==True.

from conans import tools

tools.mkdir("mydir") # Creates mydir if it does not already exist
tools.mkdir("mydir") # Does nothing

tools.rmdir("mydir") # Deletes mydir
tools.rmdir("mydir") # Does nothing


Updates the timestamp (last access and last modificatiion times) of a file. This is similar to Unix’ touch command, except the command fails if the file does not exist.

Optionally, a tuple of two numbers can be specified, which denotes the new values for the ‘last access’ and ‘last modified’ times respectively.

from conans import tools
import time

tools.touch("myfile")                            # Sets atime and mtime to the current time
tools.touch("myfile", (time.time(), time.time()) # Similar to above
tools.touch("myfile", (time.time(), 1))          # Modified long, long ago


Recursively walks a given directory (using os.walk()) and returns a list of all contained file paths relative to the given directory.


Returns the Visual Studio installation path for the given version. It only works when the tool vswhere is installed. If the tool is not able to return the path it returns None.


  • version: Visual Studio version to locate. The valid version numbers are strings: “10”, “11”, “12”, “13”, “14”, “15”...


from conans import tools

vs_path_2017 = tools.vs_installation_path("15")


Replaces the prefix variable in a package config file .pc with the specified value.


  • pc_file: Path to the pc file
  • new_prefix: New prefix variable value (path pointing to a package)
lib_b_path = self.deps_cpp_info["libB"].rootpath
tools.replace_prefix_in_pc_file("libB.pc", lib_b_path)

See also

Check section integrations/pkg-config and pc files to know more.


Fetches a list of all libraries in the package folder.


  • conanfile: A ConanFile object from which to get the package_folder
  • folder: The subfolder where the library files are. Defaulted to “lib”


def package_info(self):
   self.cpp_info.libs = tools.collect_libs(self)