Embedding binary resources with CMake and C++11

The problem

Let’s say you want to make a single-binary application that has embedded resources (images, GLSL shaders, etc.). Let’s say you want to automatically wrap your resources in a storage container to make it easier to deal with stuff. Let’s also say that you might even be using CMake as your build system.

CMake doesn’t provide a way of making a custom build rule, and using extern data is a little unwieldy. So here’s an easy-ish way to do both parts, making use of C++11 language features (and a scary preprocessor hack).

The C++11 bit is also useful on its own, even if you aren’t using CMake, although things will have to be adapted to your build system of choice.

Note: Back when I wrote this the general compiler ecosystem was different, especially on macOS. If you just want a library that does all this stuff for you in a platform-independent manner, check out this resource embedding script. Or you might be interested in a CMake-only approach for the resource generation and using that in conjunction with the rest of this article.