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How to setup up my system for VST 3

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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 vstsdk.zip 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 https://github.com/steinbergmedia/vst3sdk.git

Get an 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 https://visualstudio.microsoft.com/free.

For MacOS

On MacOS, a first choice is Xcode (available here https://developer.apple.com/xcode/).

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: http://www.ubuntu.com or https://www.linuxmint.com
  2. Install it directly or in a virtual machine like Parallels. We used and tested on Ubuntu 22.04 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 "setup_linux_packages_for_vst3sdk.sh" 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: https://cmake.org/download/ 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:


Specific on Windows

You have to adapt your Windows right access to allow creation of symbolic links for VST 3 plug-ins: Check HERE!

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.