Automatically generates Rust FFI bindings to C and C++ libraries.
Rust C++ C Other
Latest commit b666c73 Feb 25, 2017 @bors-servo bors-servo committed on GitHub Auto merge of #533 - emilio:simplify-static, r=fitzgen
lib: Simplify the libclang setup.

r? @fitzgen


Automatically generates Rust FFI bindings to C and C++ libraries.



It is recommended to use Clang 3.9 or greater, however bindgen can run with older Clangs with some features disabled.

Installing Clang 3.9


Download and install the official pre-built binary from LLVM download page.


If you use Homebrew:

$ brew install llvm

If you use MacPorts:

$ port install clang-3.9
Debian-based Linuxes
# apt-get install llvm-3.9-dev libclang-3.9-dev

Ubuntu 16.10 provides the necessary packages directly. If you are using older version of Ubuntu or other Debian-based distros, you may need to add the LLVM repos to get version 3.9. See

# pacman -S clang
From source

If your package manager doesn't yet offer Clang 3.9, you'll need to build from source. For that, follow the instructions here.

Those instructions list optional steps. For bindgen:

  • Checkout and build clang
  • Checkout and build the extra-clang-tools
  • Checkout and build the compiler-rt
  • You do not need to checkout or build libcxx

Library usage with

💡 This is the recommended way to use bindgen. 💡 Tutorial

Here is a step-by-step tutorial for generating FFI bindings to the bzip2 C library.

Simple Example: ./bindgen-integration

The ./bindgen-integration directory has an example crate that generates FFI bindings in and can be used a template for new projects.

Real World Example: Stylo

A real world example is the Stylo build script used for integrating Servo's layout system into Gecko.

In Cargo.toml:

# ...
build = ""

bindgen = "0.20"


extern crate bindgen;

use std::env;
use std::path::Path;

fn main() {
  let out_dir = env::var("OUT_DIR").unwrap();
  let _ = bindgen::builder()

In src/

include!(concat!(env!("OUT_DIR"), "/"));

Command Line Usage

$ cargo install bindgen

There are a few options documented when running bindgen --help. Bindgen is installed to ~/.cargo/bin. You have to add that directory to your path to use bindgen.


bindgen can handle most C++ features, but not all of them (C++ is hard!)

Notable C++ features that are unsupported or only partially supported:

  • Partial template specialization
  • Traits templates
  • Instantiating new template specializations

When passing in header files, the file will automatically be treated as C++ if it ends in .hpp. If it doesn't, -x c++ can be used to force C++ mode.

You must use whitelisting when working with C++ to avoid pulling in all of the std::* types, some of which bindgen cannot handle. Additionally, you may want to blacklist other types that bindgen stumbles on, or make bindgen treat certain types as opaque.


The translation of classes, structs, enums, and typedefs can be adjusted using annotations. Annotations are specifically formatted html tags inside doxygen style comments.


The opaque annotation instructs bindgen to ignore all fields defined in a struct/class.

/// <div rustbindgen opaque></div>


The hide annotation instructs bindgen to ignore the struct/class/field/enum completely.

/// <div rustbindgen hide></div>


The replaces annotation can be used to use a type as a replacement for other (presumably more complex) type. This is used in Stylo to generate bindings for structures that for multiple reasons are too complex for bindgen to understand.

For example, in a C++ header:

 * <div rustbindgen replaces="nsTArray"></div>
template<typename T>
class nsTArray_Simple {
  T* mBuffer;
  // The existence of a destructor here prevents bindgen from deriving the Clone
  // trait via a simple memory copy.
  ~nsTArray_Simple() {};

That way, after code generation, the bindings for the nsTArray type are the ones that would be generated for nsTArray_Simple.


The nocopy annotation is used to prevent bindgen to autoderive the Copy and Clone traits for a type.