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Vulkan® API Registry Build Instructions and Notes


This is the Vulkan XML API Registry. It is used to generate the canonical vulkan_core.h and the API Asciidoc include files used by the Vulkan Specification and Reference Pages.

When changes to the header or the includes are needed, follow this workflow. Normally changes are needed only when defining a new extension or core version of the API.

  • Create a git branch to work in locally

  • Edit vk.xml

  • make ; make test

    • This generates headers in ../include/vulkan including vulkan_core.h and a set of platform-dependent headers vulkan_<platform>.h.

  • (cd .. && make generated)

    • This generates asciidoc includes for the spec. There are many ways to invoke the Makefile in the spec directory; this simple recipe only generates includes for the core Vulkan API without any extensions.

  • Repeat until the headers and/or includes are correct.

  • Commit your changes to your local git branch, push to your upstream git server (your personal repository clone of KhronosGroup/Vulkan-Docs on Github, for people outside Khronos; the Khronos member gitlab server, otherwise), and create a pull or merge request against the specification branch (master) or other appropriate target.

For a detailed description of the schema, go to .. and make registry, which generates $(OUTDIR)/registry.html. This includes some examples of how to make simple changes in the API via the XML.

The generator scripts are written in Python 3, using the etree package for processing XML.


  • Makefile - generates headers and extension loader sources from XML (see Makefile Targets below).

  • vk.xml - XML API description.

  • registry.rnc - RelaxNG compact schema for validating XML against the schema.

  • Python scripts in ../scripts/ which operate on vk.xml.

    • ../scripts/ - Python script to generate vulkan_core.h and other targets.

    • ../scripts/ - Python tools to read XML file and convert it into C headers.

    • ../scripts/ - output generator base class.

    • ../scripts/ - C header output generator.

    • ../scripts/ - Asciidoc interface language include generator.

    • ../scripts/ - Generator for Asciidoc extension descriptions in spec appendices.

    • ../scripts/ - Asciidoc host sync table generator.

    • ../scripts/ - Generates python encoding of the API description.

    • ../scripts/ - Asciidoc validity language generator.

  • ../include/vulkan/vulkan_core.h - Generated Vulkan non-platform API header.

  • ../include/vulkan/vulkan_<platform>.h - Generated Vulkan platform API headers.

  • ../scripts/ - generate HTML index of all extensions for inclusion into the Vulkan registry index page.

  • ../scripts/ - generate extension dependencies in Bash and Python form for use when building the specification.

Makefile Targets

  • install (default target) - regenerate header files in ../include/vulkan.

  • test - make sure ../include/vulkan/vulkan_core.h compiles. Important! Can also be used to test if platform headers compile by specifying make TESTDEFS=-DVK_USE_PLATFORM_<PLATFORM>_<AUTHORID> test.

  • validate - validate vk.xml against the schema. Requires installing jing (see Software Dependencies below). Also important!

  • clean_dirt - remove intermediate files.

  • clean - remove generated files. Usually done when preparing to merge to master branch via make clean ; make install.

If you have trouble running the Makefile on your platform, the following steps will build vulkan_core.h and test that it compiles:

# Regenerate header from XML
python3 ../scripts/ -o ../include/vulkan vulkan_core.h
# Verify that the resulting header compiles
gcc -Wall -c -I../include testcore.c
g++ -Wall -c -std=c++98 -I../include testcore.c
g++ -Wall -c -std=c++11 -I../include testcore.c

Linux Software Depencies

These are the minimum versions of required tools in a Debian 8 development environment. Earlier versions may work, but unless they are verified by someone else, there’s no way to know that:

  • Python 3 (python3, version: 3.4.2)

  • g++ and gcc (g++-4.9 / gcc-4.9, version: 4.9.2-10 - gcc 4.8 also reported to work)

  • GNU make (make version: 4.0.8-1; older versions probably OK)

  • Jing (jing version: 20131210+dfsg+1-1; needed only for optional XML validation)

Windows Software Dependencies

Using the Windows 10 Ubuntu subsystem, if available, is probably the most pleasant way of building. Cygwin64 is also a viable approach.

On native Windows without a Linux emulation environment, one way to build on Windows is:

  • Install python (32-bit works great):

  • Ensure the pip module is installed (should be by default)

  • Run the script in C:\PathToVulkan\src\specfile

    • C:\PathToPython\python3.exe vulkan_core.h

Revision History

  • 2019/03/10 - Update for script reorganization.

  • 2018/05/21 - Don’t generate vulkan_ext.[ch] from the install target. Add a new shortcut extloader target for people still using this code and needing to regenerate it.

  • 2018/03/13 - Update for new directory structure.

  • 2018/03/06 - Update for Vulkan 1.1 release and master branch.

  • 2015/09/18 - Split platform-specific headers into their own vulkan_<platform>.h files, move vulkan.h to vulkan_core.h, and add a new (static) vulkan.h which includes appropriate combinations of the other headers.

  • 2015/06/01 - The header that is generated has been improved relative to the first version. Function arguments are indented like the hand-generated header, enumerant BEGIN/END_RANGE enums are named the same, etc. The ordering of declarations is unlike the hand-generated header, and probably always will because it results from a type/enum/function dependency analysis. Some of this can be forced by being more explicit about it, if that is a big deal.

  • 2015/06/02 - Per WG signoff, converted hex constant values to decimal (for non-bitmasks) and VK_BIT macros to 'bitpos' attributes in the XML and hex constants in the header. Updated schema to match. Changed <ptype> tag to <type>.

  • 2015/06/03 - Moved into new 'vulkan' tree (did not bother preserving history in previous repo). Added semantic knowledge about structs and unions to <type> tags instead of just imbedding C struct definitions. Improved registry.rnc schema a bit.

  • 2015/06/07 - Incorporate feedback from F2F including Python 3 and Windows fixes to the scripts. Add documentation to readme.pdf. Fold in multiple merge requests resulting from action items agreed at the F2F, to prepare for everyone moving to XML instead of directly editing the header.

  • 2015/06/20 - Add vulkan-docs target and instructions for installing python3 and python-lxml for Windows.

  • 2015/08/13 - Bring documentation up to date with Makefile targets (default is now ../include/vulkan.h).

  • 2015/09/02 - Update README with required (or known working) versions of toolchain components.

  • 2015/09/02 - Move include/vulkan.h to vulkan/vulkan.h so #include "vulkan/vulkan.h" is the normal usage (Bug 14576).

  • 2016/02/12 - Update README and remove old files to stage for public release.

  • 2016/05/31 - Remove dependency on lxml.

  • 2016/07/27 - Update documentation for changes to schema and generator scripts.

  • 2016/08/26 - Move README to an asciidoc file and update for the single-branch model. Use 'clean' target to remove generated files in both spec source and registry Makefiles.

  • 2017/02/20 - Move registry.txt (schema documentation) to the Vulkan spec source directory and update the README here.

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