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SPIRV-Reflect is a lightweight library that provides a C/C++ reflection API for SPIR-V shader bytecode in Vulkan applications.

SPIRV-Reflect has been tested on Linux and Windows.


  • 2023-07-04 - We have removed support for Bazel.
  • 2023-06-07 - We are planning to remove support for Bazel. If you rely on Bazel for building this code, please let us know in #188.
  • 2023-05-03 - The master branch has been renamed to main (see #164 for details). Please update your fork as per instructions in that issue.


  • Extract descriptor bindings from SPIR-V bytecode, to assist in the generation of Vulkan descriptor set and pipeline layouts.
  • Extract push constant block size from SPIR-V bytecode to assist in the generation of pipeline layouts.
  • Extract full layout data for uniform buffer and push constant blocks from SPIR-V bytecode, to assist in application updates of these structures.
  • Extract input/output variables from SPIR-V bytecode (including semantic decorations for HLSL shaders), to assist in validation of pipeline input/output settings.
  • Remap descriptor bindings at runtime, and update the source SPIR-V bytecode accordingly.
  • Log all reflection data as human-readable text.


SPIRV-Reflect is designed to make integration as easy as possible. The only external dependency is the Vulkan SDK.

To integrate SPIRV-Reflect into a project, simply add spirv_reflect.h and spirv_reflect.c in the project's build, and include spirv_reflect.h from the necessary source files.

If the project wants to use it's own SPIRV-Header path, it can set SPIRV_REFLECT_USE_SYSTEM_SPIRV_H

# CMake example
target_compile_definitions(project_name PUBLIC SPIRV_REFLECT_USE_SYSTEM_SPIRV_H)

Building Samples

This step is only necessary when building/running SPIRV-Reflect's example applications.

SPIRV-Reflect includes a collection of sample programs in the examples/ directory which demonstrate various use cases:

  • descriptors: This sample demonstrates the retrieval of descriptor bindings, including the population of VkDescriptorSetLayoutCreateInfo structures from reflection data.
  • hlsl_resource_types: This sample shows how various HLSL resource types are represented in SPIR-V.
  • io_variables: This sample demonstrates the retrieval of input/output variables, including the population of VkPipelineVertexInputStateCreateInfo structures from reflection data.

To build the included sample applications, use CMake to generate the appropriate project files for your platform, then build them as usual.

Note that you can set VulkanSDK directory as your preference. For example, on Linux:

VULKAN_SDK=$HOME/VulkanSDK/ cmake -G Ninja  ..


SPIRV-Reflect's core C API should be familiar to Vulkan developers:

#include "spirv_reflect.h"

int SpirvReflectExample(const void* spirv_code, size_t spirv_nbytes)
  // Generate reflection data for a shader
  SpvReflectShaderModule module;
  SpvReflectResult result = spvReflectCreateShaderModule(spirv_nbytes, spirv_code, &module);
  assert(result == SPV_REFLECT_RESULT_SUCCESS);

  // Enumerate and extract shader's input variables
  uint32_t var_count = 0;
  result = spvReflectEnumerateInputVariables(&module, &var_count, NULL);
  assert(result == SPV_REFLECT_RESULT_SUCCESS);
  SpvReflectInterfaceVariable** input_vars =
    (SpvReflectInterfaceVariable**)malloc(var_count * sizeof(SpvReflectInterfaceVariable*));
  result = spvReflectEnumerateInputVariables(&module, &var_count, input_vars);
  assert(result == SPV_REFLECT_RESULT_SUCCESS);

  // Output variables, descriptor bindings, descriptor sets, and push constants
  // can be enumerated and extracted using a similar mechanism.

  // Destroy the reflection data when no longer required.

A C++ wrapper is also provided.

Building Examples

By adding -DSPIRV_REFLECT_EXAMPLES=ON in CMake you can see the use of the API used in action.

The main_explorer.cpp file is designed to allow an user to use their debugger of choice to breakpoint and explorer the contents of the SpvReflectShaderModule object. Just build with -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug and setup a debugger to run ./bin/explorer path/to/shader.spv

Building Self-Test Suite

SPIRV-Reflect uses googletest for self-testing. This component is optional, and generally only of interest to developers modifying SPIRV-Reflect. To run the self-tests:

  • git submodule init
  • git submodule update
  • Build and run the test-spirv-reflect project.


Copyright 2017-2018 Google Inc.

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


SPIRV-Reflect is a lightweight library that provides a C/C++ reflection API for SPIR-V shader bytecode in Vulkan applications.



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