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2. Create or adapt a project

Pick a reverse DNS name

  • A reverse DNS name identifies your app. If you can't think of one, use

Every project needs a reverse DNS (RDNS) name. RDNS names are used by some operating systems to keep apps separate even if they share a brand name. Domain name ownership isn't checked by anything.

If you don't have a website consider creating a GitHub account and then using io.github.youruser.yourproject, which will ensure no naming conflicts with anyone else. Use names-with-dashes when separating words, not camelCase, as that way you'll get smarter defaults.

When creating a starter project the RDNS name initializes some defaults. When adapting an existing project specifying an RDNS name is optional, because one will be generated automatically from your download/update site URL. Nonetheless it's still a good idea to pick one explicitly.

Now skip to either generating a starter project or adapting an existing project.

Generating a starter project

This is the quickest way to try Conveyor without getting distracted by details of your actual app.

  • conveyor generate electron
  • cd my-project
  • npm install
  • conveyor make site
  • Install CMake and the compiler toolchain for each platform you will target.
  • conveyor generate cmake
  • cd my-project
  • Read the README to learn how to compile the project.
  • conveyor make site.
  • Install a JDK 17 or higher from any vendor e.g. Amazon Corretto is a good choice.
  • conveyor generate compose
    conveyor generate javafx
  • cd my-project
  • ./gradlew jar - this step will download Gradle if you don't already have it.
  • conveyor make site

Now read the rest of the tutorial to understand what just happened.

Packaging a project with Conveyor

There are three steps:

  1. Writing a conveyor.conf file.
  2. Preparing the build system.
  3. Running Conveyor to generate packages or update sites.

conveyor.conf defines your packages and is defined using a superset of JSON called HOCON with a few Conveyor-specific extensions. This makes it much more pleasant to express configuration whilst preserving the simple JSON data model. It also means you can import JSON into your config directly, including config generated dynamically by other programs.

Don't worry about the details of conveyor.conf too much right now. Most projects don't need many settings.

Packaging a server app for Linux with systemd integration

You can also package servers with Conveyor. The resulting packages get systemd integration, can be sandboxed, and contain pre-canned Apache/nginx configs. Learn how to adapt a server.


Click the + icons next to code lines to see further explanations.

Most of the conveyor.conf for a native app is straightforward. However, look at the lines defining the inputs. They are defining where the binaries should be found on local disk, and where they should be placed in the package for each OS.

app {
  display-name = Template App // (1)!
  fsname = template-app // (2)!
  rdns-name = org.some-org.some-product
  version = 1
  site.base-url = "localhost:8899" // (3)!

  machines = [ 
    windows.amd64, linux.amd64.glibc, mac.amd64, mac.aarch64 // (4)!

  icons = "icons/icon-rounded*" // (5)!
  windows.icons = "icons/icon-square*"

  mac.inputs = [ // (6)!
    build/mac/installation/bin -> Contents/MacOS
    build/mac/installation/lib -> Contents/Frameworks

  windows.amd64.inputs = build/win/installation/bin
  linux.amd64.inputs = build/linux/installation
  1. The display name is the natural language name of the project as it appears to the user. It's initialized with a guess based on de-dashifying the fsname key.
  2. The fsname is the name of the project as it appears on disk, e.g. in file names.
  3. This is a directory on a web server where packages will look for update files.
  4. You can restrict which platforms you support. See "Machines" for details.
  5. The templates come with pre-made icons. You should replace these files with your own. Conveyor will take care of converting to native formats and embedding the icon into the Windows EXE file.
  6. The CMake build system produces an install directory that uses non-Mac UNIX conventions. Here, we adapt it to a Mac bundle layout. If your build system produces a .app bundle already you can just provide the path of the bundle directory. See Apple's document "Placing content in a bundle".

A native app will require a few tweaks before being packaged. A concrete example can be found in the native OpenGL sample which uses the CMake build system. The most important change required is adding linker flags:

  1. On UNIX you need to set an rpath so the program can find any bundled shared libraries. It should be set to @executable_path/../Frameworks on macOS, and $ORIGIN/../lib on Linux.
  2. On macOS you will additionally need to pass -headerpad 0xFF to the linker. This allows Conveyor to inject some code into the program's startup sequence which initializes the Sparkle update framework.
Code injection on macOS

Windows and Linux have built-in package managers that can update software automatically, but macOS does not. The only Apple provided way to ship software updates to Mac users is via the App Store. Conveyor doesn't go this route. Instead, it uses the popular Sparkle Framework to give your app the ability to update itself. Sparkle is a de-facto standard used across the Mac software ecosystem.

For Sparkle to work it must be initialized at app startup. To avoid you needing to write Mac specific code in Objective-C or Swift, Conveyor will edit the Mach-O headers of your binary when it builds the bundle to inject a shared library that starts up Sparkle for you. This happens automatically for any app that links against Cocoa or AppKit and not Sparkle. This feature is particularly useful for apps that aren't written in C++, as long as they provide sufficient header padding space. The amount of space left for adding headers can be controlled using Apple's ld linker with the -headerpad flag. If your language toolchain doesn't support header padding, this technique won't work and you'll have to link against Sparkle.framework yourself.

Icons and manifests on Windows

Windows programs contain embedded metadata like icon files, XML manifests and whether it's a console app. Conveyor will edit the EXE to reflect settings in your config, so you don't need to set these things up in your build system. Any icons or manifests already there will be replaced. Learn how to control the binary manifest.

The CMakeLists.txt file of the OpenGL sample project contains commands with comments explaining what they do. This build system demonstrates importing a third party library from a source zip, compiling it, dynamically linking against it, and passing the right linker flags to produce binaries that will work with Conveyor. It looks like this:

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.16.3)

set(CMAKE_CXX_STANDARD 17) // (1)!
set(CMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES arm64;x86_64) // (2)!
set(CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX ${CMAKE_BINARY_DIR}/installation) // (3)!

if (APPLE) // (4)!
    set(CMAKE_INSTALL_RPATH "@executable_path/../Frameworks")
        ${CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS} "-Wl,-headerpad,0xFF")  // (5)!
elseif (UNIX)
    set(CMAKE_INSTALL_RPATH "\$ORIGIN/../lib")


if (APPLE)
    target_link_libraries(gl_cmake PRIVATE "-framework Cocoa") // (6)!

include(ImportGLFW.txt) // (7)!
target_link_libraries(gl_cmake PRIVATE glfw)

install(TARGETS gl_cmake)
  1. Use the C++17 standard.
  2. When compiling on macOS, cross-compile for Intel and Apple Silicon. The result is a universal fat binary.
  3. "Install" to a directory tucked neatly into the build directory. Conveyor will pick up the binaries from this directory later.
  4. Ensure libraries can be found. On UNIX systems libraries are stored in a different directory to the executable, and a header in the binary file tells the linker where to look. Unfortunately they are not set by default, so we must instruct the linker to add these headers here. The syntax varies between macOS and Linux. It isn't necessary for Windows where the convention is to put DLLs and EXEs in the same directory.
  5. On macOS Conveyor will inject its own library into the binary to initialize the update system. Ensure there is sufficient empty space in the headers to make this possible.
  6. On macOS we should also depend on Apple's Cocoa GUI framework, because otherwise Conveyor will think we're not a GUI app and not initialize Sparkle. In this case all the GUI work is being done by GLFW but that's rare, and only because this is such a simple example. Normally you'd need this regardless.
  7. Import and compile an open source library. Delete these lines if you don't want to use OpenGL.

It's possible to package JVM apps with no code changes. Nonetheless:

  1. The app.version and app.dir system properties may prove useful. You can set any other system properties you like in the config.
  2. Compose and JavaFX apps can load their window icons from the packaged files. See the Gradle page or the code of the template apps to get this snippet.

How to integrate a JVM project depends on your build system. Please select:


Don't use an uber/fat-jar for your program unless you're obfuscating. It'll reduce the efficiency of delta download schemes like the one used by Windows. It also means modular JARs won't be encoded using the optimized jimage scheme. Use separate JARs for the best user experience.

The build system of Electron apps doesn't need any adaptation for Conveyor. The conveyor.conf file should look like this:

include required("/stdlib/electron/electron.conf") 

package-lock {  
  include "package-lock.json"

app {
  display-name = "Electro Thing"
  rdns-name = com.example.electro-thing
  site.base-url = "localhost:8899"
  icons = "icons/icon-*.png"

The configuration is straightforward. The first line activates Electron support by importing configuration from the standard library.

The next few lines take advantage of the fact that HOCON is a superset of JSON, and thus all valid JSON is also valid HOCON. It imports the package-lock.json file into your Conveyor config, so values in it are available for substitution. Inside the /stdlib/electron/electron.conf file (which comes with Conveyor) is code like this:

app {
  // Read core metadata from the package-lock.json file.
  fsname = ${}
  version = ${package-lock.version}
  electron.version = ${package-lock.packages.node_modules/electron.version}

  // Import typical files that make up the app.
  inputs = ${app.inputs} [


      from = node_modules
      to = node_modules
      remap = ["-electron/dist/**"]


As you can see, HOCON syntax lets us copy data out of the package-lock.json file and assign to the right place in the Conveyor config schema. The reason we read the package-lock.json file and not package.json is because the lockfile has the specific version of Electron that you've chosen to use, whereas package.json only has version ranges.

The default inputs will copy JavaScript, JSON, CSS and HTML files from the project root into the app along with the node_modules directory, whilst excluding the dist sub-directory of the electron module (which contains a complete Mac app bundle that isn't needed).

Although these defaults will work, they will create a bloated package. A better approach would be to integrate a bundler like webpack or vite so the node_modules directory isn't shipped. Because the JavaScript ecosystem changes so quickly, and the way this is done varies between projects, setting this up is left as an exercise for the reader.


Conveyor doesn't currently generate ASAR files, which Electron can use to speed startup. Your build system will need to generate those itself.