Building Under Windows


Howard Butler


howard at




Conda contains a pre-built up-to-date 64 bit Windows binary. It is fully-featured, and if you do not need anything custom, it is likely the fastest way to get going.


Pre-built binary packages for Windows are available via Conda (64-bit version), and all of the prerequisites required for compilation of a fully featured build are also available via that packaging system. This document assumes you will be using Conda Forge as your base, and anything more advanced is beyond the scope of the document.


The GitHub Action build system uses the PDAL project’s configuration on the Conda Forge system. It contains a rich resource of known working examples. See and for inspiration.

Required Compiler

PDAL is known to compile on Visual Studio 2015, and 2013 might work with some source tree adjustments. PDAL makes heavy use of C++11, and a compiler with good support for those features is required.

Prerequisite Libraries

PDAL uses the GitHub Actions continuous integration platform for building and testing itself on Windows. The configuration that PDAL uses is valuable raw materials for configuring your own environment because the PDAL team must keep it up to date with both the Conda environment and the Microsoft compiler situation.

You can see the current configuration at The most interesting bits are the Setup step, the CMake step, and the Compile scripts. The configuration already has Miniconda installed, and the script installs all of PDAL’s prerequisites via the command line.

conda install geotiff laszip nitro curl ^
   gdal pcl cmake eigen ninja libgdal ^
   zstd numpy xz libxml2 laz-perf qhull ^
   sqlite hdf5 tiledb conda-build ninja -y


The package list here might change over time. The canonnical location to learn the prerequisite list for PDAL is the scripts/ci/win directory in PDAL’s source tree.

Fetching the Source

Get the source code for PDAL. Presumably you have GitHub for Windows or something like it. Run a “git shell” and clone the repository into the directory of your choice.

c:\dev> git clone

Switch to the -maintenance branch.

c:\dev> git checkout 1.9-maintenance


PDAL’s active development branch is master, and you are welcome to build it, but is not as stable as the major-versioned release branches are likely to be.


PDAL uses CMake for its build configuration. You will need to install CMake and have it available on your path to configure PDAL.

Invoke your cmake command to configure the PDAL.

cmake -G "NMake Makefiles" .

A fully-featured build will require more specification of libraries, enabled features, and their locations. For more information on this, users can refer to the step in the Action.


Placing your command in a .bat file will make for easy reuse.


If you chose NMake Makefiles as your CMake generator, you can invoke the build by calling nmake:

nmake /f Makefile

If you chose “Visual Studio 14 Win64” as your CMake generator, open PDAL.sln and chose your configuration to build.


After you’ve built the tree, you can run pdal.exe by issuing it



You may need to have your Conda environment active to enable access to PDAL’s dependencies.