Skip to content
Bio-Formats JACE C++ bindings
Branch: master
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.

Bio-Formats JACE C++ bindings

Build Status

Note that this is a legacy project and is no longer actively maintained. Use at your own risk.


To make Bio-Formats accessible to software written in C++, we have created a Bio-Formats C++ interface. It uses LOCI's jar2lib program to generate a C++ proxy class for each equivalent Bio-Formats Java class. The resulting proxies are then compiled into a library, which represents the actual interface from C++ to Bio-Formats. Using this library in your projects gives you access to the image support of Bio-Formats.

The JACE C++ bindings come with some standalone examples which you can use as a starting point in your own project:

Other projects using the JACE C++ bindings include:

##Build instructions

This package provides language bindings for calling into the Bio-Formats Java library from C++ in a cross-platform manner. As of this writing the bindings are functional with GCC on Linux and Mac OS X systems, as well as with Visual C++ 2005 and Visual C++ 2008 on Windows.

Note that the JACE C++ bindings require Java 7 to build and run. They do not work with Java 8.

###Compile-time dependencies

To build the Bio-Formats C++ bindings from source, the following modules are required:

  • Apache Maven

    Maven is a software project management and comprehension tool. Along with Ant, it is one of the supported build systems for the Bio-Formats Java library, and is used to generate the Bio-Formats C++ bindings.

  • CMake

    CMake is a cross-platform, open source build system generator, commonly used to build C++ projects in a platform-independent manner. CMake supports GNU make as well as Microsoft Visual Studio, allowing the Bio-Formats C++ bindings to be compiled on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and potentially other platforms.

  • Boost Thread

    Boost is a project providing open source portable C++ source libraries. It has become a suite of de facto standard libraries for C++. The Bio-Formats C++ bindings require the Boost Thread module in order to handle C++ threads in a platform independent way.

  • Java Development Kit

    Version 6 or 7 is required; version 8 is not currently supported. At runtime, only the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is necessary to execute the Bio-Formats code. However, the full J2SE development kit is required at compile time on some platforms (Windows in particular), since it comes bundled with the JVM shared library (jvm.lib) necessary to link with Java.

For information on installing these dependencies, refer to the section for your specific platform below.

###How to build

The process of building the Bio-Formats C++ bindings is divided into two steps:

  1. Generate a C++ project consisting of "proxies" which wrap the Java code. This step utilizes the Maven project management tool, specifically a Maven plugin called cppwrap.

  2. Compile this generated C++ project. This step utilizes the cross-platform CMake build system.

For details on executing these build steps, refer to the section for your specific platform below.

###Build results

If all goes well, the build system will:

  1. Generate the Bio-Formats C++ proxy classes
  2. Build the Jace C++ library
  3. Build the Java Tools C++ library
  4. Build the Bio-Formats C++ shared library
  5. Build the showinf and minimum_writer command line tools for testing the functionality.

Please be patient, as the build may require several minutes to complete.

Afterwards, the dist/bio-formats-jace subdirectory will contain the following files:


    Jace shared library


    C++ shared library for BSD-licensed readers and writers

  3. jace-runtime.jar

    Jace Java classes needed at runtime

  4. formats-bsd.jar, formats-common.jar etc

    Bio-Formats Java libraries needed at runtime


    Java Tools shared library

  6. showinf

    Example command line application

  7. minimum_writer

    Example command line application

Items 1-4 are necessary and required to deploy Bio-Formats with your C++ application. Item 5 (jtools) is a useful helper library for managing the Java virtual machine from C++, but is not strictly necessary to use Bio-Formats. All other files, including the example programs and various build files generated by CMake, are not needed.

For details on the individual JAR files appropriate for your application, see using Bio-Formats as a Java library.

##Building in Linux

###Compile-time dependencies (Linux)

The following directions are specific to Ubuntu Linux. Other Linux distributions may have similar packages available; check your package manager.

To install dependencies on Ubuntu Linux, execute:

# install code generation prerequisites
sudo aptitude install maven2

# install build prerequisites
sudo aptitude install build-essential cmake libboost-thread-dev

# install Java Development Kit
sudo aptitude install sun-java6-jdk
sudo update-alternatives --config java

Then select Sun's Java implementation as the system default.

It may be possible to use a different Java compiler (i.e. omit the sun-java6-jdk package and update-alternatives step), but we have only tested the compilation process with Sun's Java compiler.

###How to build (Linux)

Refer to the build script.

##Building in Mac OS X

###Compile-time dependencies (Mac OS X)

To install dependencies on Mac OS X, we advise using Homebrew

brew install maven cmake boost

Unless otherwise configured, this will install binaries into /usr/local/.

###How to build (Mac OS X)

Refer to the build script.

##Building in Windows

###Compile-time dependencies (Windows)

Windows users will need to visit the appropriate web sites and download and install the relevant binaries for all the dependencies.

To configure the tools, you will need to edit or create several environment variables on your system. Access them by clicking the "Environment Variables" button from Control Panel, System, Advanced tab. Use semicolons to separate multiple directories in the PATH variable.

####Compile-time dependencies (Windows -- Maven)

Download Maven.

Unpack the Maven archive into your Program Files, then add the folder's bin subdirectory to your PATH environment variable; e.g.:

C:\Program Files\apache-maven-3.0.4\bin

Once set, new Command Prompts will recognize "mvn" as a valid command.

####Compile-time dependencies (Windows -- CMake)

Download and run the CMake installer.

During installation, select the "Add CMake to the system PATH for all users" option to ensure that Bio-Formats build system can find your CMake executable.

Once installed, new Command Prompts will recognize "cmake" and "cmake-gui" as valid commands.

####Compile-time dependencies (Windows -- Boost)

Download Boost.

You can either build and install from source using the instructions in the Boost documentation, or follow the link under 'Other downloads' to the prebuilt binaries for several Visual Studio versions.

####Compile-time dependencies (Windows -- Java Development Kit)

Download and install the JDK.

After the installation is complete, create a new environment variable called JAVA_HOME pointing to your Java installation; e.g.

C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_25

Setting JAVA_HOME is the easiest way to ensure that Maven can locate Java.

You will also need to append your JDK's client or server VM folder to the PATH e.g.


This step ensures that a directory containing jvm.dll is present in the PATH. If you do not perform this step, you will receive a runtime error when attempting to initialize a JVM from native code.

Optionally, you can add the bin subdirectory to the PATH e.g.


Once set, new Command Prompts will recognize (e.g.) "javac" as a valid command.

####Compile-time dependencies (Windows -- Visual C++)

In addition to the other prerequisites, you will also need a working copy of Visual C++. We have tested compilation with Visual C++ 2005 Professional and Visual C++ 2008 Express; other versions may or may not work.

You can download Visual C++ Express for free.

You must launch the environment at least once before you will be able to compile the Bio-Formats C++ bindings.

###How to build (Windows)

Run Command Prompt and change to your Bio-Formats working copy. Then run:

# generate the Bio-Formats C++ bindings
mvn -DskipTests clean package cppwrap:wrap dependency:copy-dependencies

# build the Bio-Formats C++ bindings
cd target\cppwrap
mkdir build
cd build
cmake-gui ..

The CMake GUI will open. Click the Configure button, and a dialog will appear. Select your installed version of Visual Studio, and click Finish.

When configuring, you can use the J2L_WIN_BUILD_DEBUG flag to indicate if this will be a Debug or Release build. If the flag is checked it will build as Debug, unchecked will build as Release.

Once configuration is complete, click Configure again, repeating as necessary until the Generate button becomes available. Then click Generate. Once generation is complete, close the CMake window.

Back at the Command Prompt, type:

start jace.sln

The solution will then open in Visual Studio. Select Release or Debug as appropriate from the drop-down menu. Press F7 to compile (or select Build Solution from the Build menu).

You can’t perform that action at this time.