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In order to build VST 3 plug-ins, you need the source code of the VST 3 (interface definition), an IDE/compiler, cmake and a VST 3 host application.

Get the source code

From the downloaded file

Download the VST 3 SDK: check VST 3 SDK Download.

Unpack the zip file to a development folder on your computer.

From GitHub:

git clone --recursive

Get a IDE for development

For Windows

On Windows, we recommend that you to use Visual Studio C++ or Visual Studio Code. You can get it for free here

For MacOS

On MacOS, a first choice is Xcode (available here

For Linux

In order to build the SDK successfully, you need an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution. Other distributions might work as well, but are not tested.

  1. Download Linux: or
  2. Install it directly or in a virtual machine like Parallels
    We used and tested on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

Package Requirements

Building the SDK examples requires installation of several packages:


sudo apt-get install cmake gcc "libstdc++6" libx11-xcb-dev libxcb-util-dev libxcb-cursor-dev libxcb-xkb-dev libxkbcommon-dev libxkbcommon-x11-dev libfontconfig1-dev libcairo2-dev libgtkmm-3.0-dev libsqlite3-dev libxcb-keysyms1-dev
On Raspbian/Debian, replace "libxcb-util-dev" with "libxcb-util0-dev"


sudo apt-get install subversion git ninja-build

A recommended IDE (optional): QTCreator

sudo apt-get install qtcreator
You can also use the bash file "" included in the VST3_SDK/tools folder!

Get cmake

In order to control the compilation process and create an IDE project, VST 3 SDK uses the open-source and cross-platform tool cmake.

You can download cmake here: or use a package manager for your OS (Linux).

You can use it as a command line tool or use the cmake executable with GUI. cmake-gui is included in the cmake package:

Preparation on Windows
Generated VST3 Microsoft Visual Studio Projects using the cmake included in the SDK will create by default symbolic links for each built plug-in in the official VST3 folder, in order to allow this on Windows you have to adapt the Group Policy of Windows. See Here!

If you do not want to create this link, call cmake with this parameter:


You could choose the new user location for VST3 plug-ins, call cmake with this parameter:


Get a VST 3 host application

You can use your favorite VST 3 host application, see here for some examples, or you can use the VST 3 Plug-in Test Host application included in the VST 3 SDK.

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