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Creating an application


To create your own application you need to create a directory containing one or multiple C file(s) with your source code and a Makefile. A template Makefile is available in the dist folder of the RIOT repository.

The main function

After the board is initialized, RIOT starts two threads: the idle thread and the main thread. The idle thread has the lowest priority and will run whenever no other thread is ready to run. It will automatically use the lowest possible power mode for the device. The main thread - configured with a default priority that is right in the middle between the lowest and the highest available priorities - is the first thread that runs and calls the main() function. This function needs to be defined in the source code of the application (typically located in main.c).

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void)
    puts("Hello World!");
    return 0;

The application's Makefile

The minimal Makefile

At minimum the Makefile of an application (see @ref getting-started) needs to define the following macros:

  • APPLICATION: should contain the name of your application
  • RIOTBASE: specifies the path to your copy of the RIOT repository (note that you may want to use $(CURDIR) here, to give a relative path)

The BOARD macro is also required and recommended to be set to native by default, but is recommended to be overridable with the ?= operator. Additionally, it is required to include the Makefile.include from the RIOTBASE.

# Set the name of your application:

# If no BOARD is found in the environment, use this default:
BOARD ?= native

# This has to be the absolute path to the RIOT base directory:

include $(RIOTBASE)/Makefile.include

How to handle unsupported boards?

Sometimes it is necessary to exclude boards because they don't provide a required functionality or don't have sufficient memory. RIOT's build system looks for the macros BOARD_BLACKLIST, BOARD_WHITELIST, and BOARD_INSUFFICIENT_MEMORY. Any board name that is not included in BOARD_WHITELIST will issue a message that one has to expect errors if they build the application for the board referred by that name. The list can also be used by a CI system to not build the application for this board at all. A board that is included in BOARD_BLACKLIST will show the same behavior. The build system evaluates BOARD_WHITELIST first and then BOARD_BLACKLIST. The BOARD_INSUFFICIENT_MEMORY macro is similar to BOARD_BLACKLIST but will build in any case. A CI system can use the information provided by the BOARD_INSUFFICIENT_MEMORY macro to skip the linking step in the build process, since some linkers will issue an error if the code won't fit the target board's flash memory or RAM.

Including modules

By default a RIOT application comprises only of the applications' code itself, the kernel, and platform specific code. In order to use additional modules, such as a particular @ref drivers "device driver" or @ref sys "a system library" (including @ref net "networking capabilities"), you have to append the modules' names to the USEMODULE variable. For example, to build an application using the SHT11 temperature sensor and UDP/IPv6 functionalities of the GNRC network stack, your Makefile needs to contain these lines:

USEMODULE += sht11
USEMODULE += gnrc_ipv6_default
USEMODULE += gnrc_udp

Modules typically pull in all required dependencies.