Thread-safe fork of glampert's debug-draw
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Debug Draw

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An immediate-mode, renderer agnostic, lightweight debug drawing API for C++.

Debug Draw


This software is in the public domain. Where that dedication is not recognized, you are granted a perpetual, irrevocable license to copy, distribute, and modify the source code as you see fit.

The source code is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or implied. No attribution is required, but a mention about the author(s) is appreciated.

Using Debug Draw

Debug Draw is a single source file library, so the "header" forward declarations and the implementation are contained in the same file (debug_draw.hpp). This should facilitate deployment and integration with your own projects. All you have to do is #include the library file in one of your own source files and define DEBUG_DRAW_IMPLEMENTATION in that file to generate the implementation. You can also still include the library in other places. When DEBUG_DRAW_IMPLEMENTATION is not defined, it acts as a normal C++ header file. Example:

In my_program.cpp:

#include "debug_draw.hpp"

Now in my_program.hpp or any other header or source file, you can include it as a normal C++ header:

#include "debug_draw.hpp"

That's it, you should now be able to build Debug Draw into your own application.

Interfacing with your renderer

Debug Draw doesn't make assumptions about the underlaying renderer API, so it can be integrated very easily with Direct3D or OpenGL or any other rendering engine of your choice. All that is required is that you provide an implementation for the dd::RenderInterface abstract class, which provides Debug Draw with basic methods to draw points, lines and character glyphs. The following is what dd::RenderInterface looks like:

class RenderInterface
    virtual void beginDraw();
    virtual void endDraw();

    virtual void drawPointList(const DrawVertex * points, int count, bool depthEnabled);
    virtual void drawLineList(const DrawVertex * lines, int count, bool depthEnabled);
    virtual void drawGlyphList(const DrawVertex * glyphs, int count, GlyphTextureHandle glyphTex);

    virtual GlyphTextureHandle createGlyphTexture(int width, int height, const void * pixels);
    virtual void destroyGlyphTexture(GlyphTextureHandle glyphTex);

    virtual ~RenderInterface() = 0;

Not all methods have to be implemented, you decide which features to support! Look into the source code for the declaration of RenderInterface. Each method is well commented and describes the expected behavior that you should implement. For reference implementations of the RenderInterface using standard APIs like OpenGL, refer to the samples/ directory in this project.

Once you implement a RenderInterface for your renderer, all you need to do before starting to use Debug Draw is to call dd::initialize() passing it a pointer to your custom RenderInterface:

MyRenderInterface renderIface;

Note however that Debug Draw batches all primitives to reduce the number of calls to RenderInterface, so drawing will only actually take place by the time you call dd::flush(), which is normally done at the end of a frame, before flipping the screen buffers:

// You only have to pass the current time if you have
// timed debug draws in the queues. Otherwise just pass 0.

So the overall setup should look something like the following:

class MyRenderInterface : public dd::RenderInterface
    // Cherrypick the methods you want to implement or implement them all

int main()
    MyRenderInterface renderIface;

    while (!quitting)
        // Any other drawing that you already do

        // Call any dd:: functions to add debug primitives to the draw queues


        // Swap buffers to present the scene


Configuration switches

Debug Draw provides several compiler switches for library configuration and customization. Check the documentation in debug_draw.hpp for a list of all switches plus detailed description of each.

Language requirements

The library has very few language requirements. One of its main goals is to be painless to integrate and also to be very portable. The only requirement is a C++98 compiler or better. We check for the availability of a few interesting C++11 features, but fall-backs are provided so you can also integrate it with older projects.

RTTI and C++ Exceptions are not used, so you should have no problems integrating the library with projects that disable those features.

The memory footprint is also small and you can manage the amount of memory that gets committed to the internal queues via preprocessor directives. We currently only allocate a small amount of dynamic memory at library startup to decompress the font glyphs for the debug text drawing functions. Apart from that, all data used by the library is statically allocated as file scoped statics.

Thread safety

By default, Debug Draw uses static data and is not thread safe, so its public API cannot be called from multiple threads.

if this is a problem for you, such as in parallel rendering engines, or if you wish to generate debug geometry from simulation / game threads as well as from a rendering thread, you can choose to create multiple dd::RenderContext objects. All of the Debug Draw API's take an optional dd::RenderContext* as the last parameter, which represents the storage area used by the API call. Each context may only be used by one thread at a time, but you can create multiple contexts to allow multiple threads to use the API simultaneously. Call dd::RenderContext::alloc to allocate a context prior to calling dd::initialize and call dd::RenderContext::free to deallocate the context after calling dd::shutdown.


Drawing a box with a set of coordinate axes in its center:

const ddVec3 boxColor  = { 0.0f, 0.8f, 0.8f };
const ddVec3 boxCenter = { 0.0f, 0.0f, 3.0f };

dd::box(boxCenter, boxColor, 1.5f, 1.5f, 1.5f);
dd::cross(boxCenter, 1.0f);


To visualize a matrix transform, you can use dd::axisTriad() to draw the transform as three arrows:

const ddMat4x4 transform = { // The identity matrix
    1.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f,
    0.0f, 1.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f,
    0.0f, 0.0f, 1.0f, 0.0f,
    0.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f, 1.0f
dd::axisTriad(transform, 0.3f, 2.0f);


More complex samples and how to integrate Debug Draw with your own renderer can be found inside the samples/ directory. Each function provided the API is also well documented in the header file. You will find a descriptive header comment before the prototype of each public function exposed by the library.