Everything you do in CLion is done within the context of a project. Your project serves as the basis for coding assistance, bulk refactoring, coding style consistency, and other smart features available in CLion.
CLion incorporates a set of smart features, many of which depend on project-level information (included files, compiler flags, and linker options). This information allows CLion to parse/resolve your code correctly and therefore highlight, auto-complete, inspect, and navigate through it in an error-free and convenient way.
CLion does not provide its own project model for your code but supports the following formats:
So you don't need CMake specifically, but one of the project models listed above.
Learn more in our webhelp.