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SWIG (Simplified Wrapper and Interface Generator)
Version: 2.0.6 (30 April 2012)
Tagline: SWIG is a compiler that integrates C and C++ with languages
including Perl, Python, Tcl, Ruby, PHP, Java, Ocaml, Lua,
Scheme (Guile, MzScheme, CHICKEN), Pike, C#, Modula-3,
Common Lisp (CLISP, Allegro CL, CFFI, UFFI), Octave and R.
SWIG reads annotated C/C++ header files and creates wrapper code (glue
code) in order to make the corresponding C/C++ libraries available to
the listed languages, or to extend C/C++ programs with a scripting
Up-to-date SWIG related information can be found at
A SWIG FAQ and other hints can be found on the SWIG Wiki:
Please see the LICENSE file for details of the SWIG license.
Release Notes
Please see the CHANGES.current file for a detailed list of bug fixes and
new features for the current release. The CHANGES file contains bug fixes
and new features for older versions. A summary of changes in each release
can be found in the RELEASENOTES file.
Backwards Compatibility
The developers strive their best to preserve backwards compatibility
between releases, but this is not always possible as the overriding
aim is to provide the best wrapping experience. Where backwards
compatibility is known to be broken, it is clearly marked as an
incompatibility in the CHANGES and CHANGES.current files.
See the documentation for details of the SWIG_VERSION preprocessor
symbol if you have backward compatibility issues and need to use more
than one version of SWIG.
Windows Installation
Please see the Doc/Manual/Windows.html file for instructions on installing
SWIG on Windows and running the examples. The Windows distribution is
called swigwin and includes a prebuilt SWIG executable, swig.exe, included in
the same directory as this README file. Otherwise it is exactly the same as
the main SWIG distribution. There is no need to download anything else.
Unix Installation
You must use GNU `make' to build SWIG.
PCRE needs to be installed on your system to build SWIG, in particular
pcre-config must be available. If you have PCRE headers and libraries but not
pcre-config itself or, alternatively, wish to override the compiler or linker
flags returned by pcre-config, you may set PCRE_LIBS and PCRE_CFLAGS variables
to be used instead. And if you don't have PCRE at all, the configure script
will provide instructions for obtaining it.
To build and install SWIG, simply type the following:
% ./configure
% make
% make install
By default SWIG installs itself in /usr/local. If you need to install SWIG in
a different location or in your home directory, use the --prefix option
to ./configure. For example:
% ./configure --prefix=/home/yourname/projects
% make
% make install
Note: the directory given to --prefix must be an absolute pathname. Do *NOT* use
the ~ shell-escape to refer to your home directory. SWIG won't work properly
if you do this.
The file INSTALL details more about using configure. Also try
% ./configure --help.
The configure script will attempt to locate various packages on your machine
including Tcl, Perl5, Python and all the other target languages that SWIG
uses. Don't panic if you get 'not found' messages--SWIG does not need these
packages to compile or run. The configure script is actually looking for
these packages so that you can try out the SWIG examples contained
in the 'Examples' directory without having to hack Makefiles.
Note that the --without-xxx options, where xxx is a target language, have
minimal effect. All they do is reduce the amount of testing done with
'make check'. The SWIG executable and library files installed cannot currently
be configured with a subset of target languages.
Please see the Documentation section below on installing documentation as
none is installed by default.
SWIG used to include a set of runtime libraries for some languages for working
with multiple modules. These are no longer built during the installation stage.
However, users can build them just like any wrapper module as described in
the documentation, Doc/Manual/Modules.html. The CHANGES file also lists some
examples which build the runtime library.
(1) If you checked the code out via SVN, you will have to run ./
before typing 'configure'. In addition, a full build of SWIG requires
the a number of packages to be installed. Full instructions at
Macintosh OS X Installation
SWIG is known to work on various flavors of OS X. Follow the Unix installation
instructions above. However, as of this writing, there is still great deal of
inconsistency with how shared libaries are handled by various scripting languages
on OS X. We've tried to resolve these differences to the extent of our knowledge.
Users of OS X should be aware that Darwin handles shared libraries and linking in
a radically different way than most Unix systems. In order to test SWIG and run
the examples, SWIG configures itself to use flat namespaces and to allow undefined
symbols (-flat_namespace -undefined suppress). This mostly closely follows the Unix
model and makes it more likely that the SWIG examples will work with whatever
installation of software you might have. However, this is generally not the recommended
technique for building larger extension modules. Instead, you should utilize
Darwin's two-level namespaces. Some details about this can be found here
Needless to say, you might have to experiment a bit to get things working at first.
If you want to test SWIG before installation, type the following:
% make -k check
'make -k check' requires at least one of the target languages to be
installed. If it fails, it may mean that you have an uninstalled
language module or that the file 'Examples/Makefile' has been
incorrectly configured. It may also fail due to compiler issues such
as broken C++ compiler. Even if 'make -k check' fails, there is a
pretty good chance SWIG still works correctly---you will just have to
mess around with one of the examples and some makefiles to get it to work.
Some tests may also fail due to missing dependency packages, eg PCRE
or Boost, but this will require careful analysis of the configure output.
The testing suite executed by 'make -k check' is designed to stress-test
many parts of the implementation including obscure corner cases. If some
of these tests fail or generate warning messages, there is no reason for
alarm---the test may be related to some new SWIG feature or a difficult bug
that we're trying to resolve. Chances are that SWIG will work just fine
for you. Note that if you have more than one CPU/core, then you can use
parallel make to speed up the check as it does take quite some time to run,
for example:
% make -j2 -k check
Also, SWIG's support for C++ is sufficiently advanced that certain
tests may fail on older C++ compilers (for instance if your compiler
does not support member templates). These errors are harmless if you
don't intend to use these features in your own programs.
Note: The test-suite currently contains over 500 tests. If you
have many different target languages installed and a slow machine, it
might take more than an hour to run the test-suite.
The Examples directory contains a variety of examples of using SWIG
and it has some browsable documentation. Simply point your browser to
the file "Example/index.html".
The Examples directory also includes Visual C++ project (.dsp) files for
building some of the examples on Windows.
Known Issues
There are minor known bugs, details of which are in the bug tracker, see
In order to operate correctly, SWIG relies upon a set of library
files. If after building SWIG, you get error messages like this,
% swig foo.i
:1. Unable to find 'swig.swg'
:3. Unable to find 'tcl8.swg'
it means that SWIG has either been incorrectly configured or
installed. To fix this:
1. Make sure you remembered to do a 'make install' and that
the installation actually worked. Make sure you have
write permission on the install directory.
2. If that doesn't work, type 'swig -swiglib' to find out
where SWIG thinks its library is located.
3. If the location is not where you expect, perhaps
you supplied a bad option to configure. Use
./configure --prefix=pathname to set the SWIG install
location. Also, make sure you don't include a shell
escape character such as ~ when you specify the path.
4. The SWIG library can be changed by setting the SWIG_LIB
environment variable. However, you really shouldn't
have to do this.
If you are having other troubles, you might look at the SWIG Wiki at
The Doc/Manual directory contains the most recent set of updated
documentation for this release. The documentation is available in
three different formats, each of which contains identical content.
These format are, pdf (Doc/Manual/SWIGDocumentation.pdf), single
page html (Doc/Manual/SWIGDocumentation.html) or multiple page html
(other files in Doc/Manual). Please select your chosen format and
copy/install to wherever takes your fancy.
There is some technical developer documentation available in the
Doc/Devel subdirectory. This is not necessarily up-to-date, but it
has some information on SWIG internals.
Please report any errors and submit patches (if possible)! We only
have access to a limited variety of hardware (Linux, Solaris, OS-X,
and Windows). All contributions help.
If you would like to join the SWIG development team or contribute a
language module to the distribution, please contact the swig-devel
mailing list, details at
-- The SWIG Maintainers