Defining a custom flake output attribute

When should I declare a custom flake output?

With flakes, most of the time, you can use the attribute names suggested by the Nix CLI, NixOS, etc, which already have options in flake-parts, or existing modules you can import.

However, if you're doing something that doesn't fit those labels, you may consider adding a custom attribute to the flake outputs. Your custom attribute may not be easy to use with the existing tools, but that may be expected, if you're writing a new tool or something else that's novel.

How do I do it?

If your custom output attribute is a one-off because you need to do something special in a single project, all you have to do is define a value in the flake option.

However, if you want it to be reusable and integrate well, you should declare an option for it, and you could perhaps provide a bit of support logic if that makes sense to do.

perSystem first

Integrating with perSystem is highly recommended, because that's where users expect things like packages to be defined. You can bring things that are defined in perSystem to the flake outputs in the same way packages.nix does it.

If your application doesn't follow the same pattern, but you want users to define things in perSystem, you may read the top level config.allSystems (internal) option. You can read it in the definition for a new option in the flake submodule so that its value is added to the flake outputs.


flake is an RFC42-style module, which means that it both has options and it allows arbitrary attributes to be defined in the config, without having to declare an option first. Declaring an option is recommended though, for the purposes of documentation, type checking, and allowing multiple config definitions to be merged into a single output value, if applicable.

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This is an advanced use case. Feel free to ask questions in