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Synthesizer plug-in (previously released as Vember Audio Surge)
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assets Fix placement of send + master labels (#784) Mar 17, 2019
cmake Headless can write wav files (#778) Mar 14, 2019
doc Update the developer documentation in several ways; and modify the (#758 Mar 10, 2019
installer_mac More mac build and installer Jan 13, 2019
libs Fix locale problems with preset loading and saving (#745) Mar 8, 2019
resources Delay/Chorus menu fix (#777) Mar 13, 2019
scripts VST3 Fixes for automation and midi (#769) Mar 11, 2019
vst3sdk @ 82380a8 One of the merges this morning backtracked the vst3sdk pointer. Feb 1, 2019
vstgui.surge @ 1c614c3 Fix Enter on Meny in Linux (#623) Feb 18, 2019
.clang-format updated .clang-format and ran it across the source tree Sep 21, 2018
LICENSE Update the developer documentation in several ways; and modify the (#758 Mar 10, 2019
azure-pipelines.yml cmake: Support surge-headless build for Linux Mar 2, 2019 Minor changes for osx headless (#775) Mar 12, 2019
build.cmd Iniclude lipng for windows in teh repository, rather than using nuget Jan 30, 2019
buildtask.xml checkin of most of the source from the original repository Sep 20, 2018
premake5.lua VST3 Fixes for automation and midi (#769) Mar 11, 2019


Surge is an Open Source Digital Synthesizer, originally written and sold as a commercial product by @kurasu/Claes Johanson at vember audio. In September of 2018, Claes released a partially completed version of Surge 1.6 under GPL3, and a group of developers have been improving it since.

If you are a musician only looking to use Surge please download the appropriate binary from our website. The Surge developer team makes regular binary releases for all supported platforms on the Surge website

If you would also like to participate in discussions, testing, and design of Surge, we have details below and also in the contributors section of the surge website.

Surge currently builds on macOS as a 64 bit AU, VST2 and VST3, Windows as a 64 and 32 bit VST2 and VST3 and Linux as a 64 bit VST2.

This README serves as the root of developer documentation for the project.

Developing Surge

We welcome developers. Our workflow revolves around github issues in this github repo and conversations in our slack and IRC chatrooms. You can read our developer guidelines in [doc/Developer](doc/Developer

The developer guide also contains information about testing and debugging in particular hosts on particular platforms.

We are starting writing a guide to the internal architecture of Surge which can help you get oriented and answer some basic questions.

If you want to contribute and are new to git, we also have a Git HowTo tailored at Surge dev.

Building Surge

To build surge, you need Git and Premake 5 installed with the appropriate version for your system. We are migrating towards CMake so for some OSes you need to install CMake also.


Additional pre-requisites:

Install Git, Premake5, Visual Studio 2017 and (if you want to build an installer) Inno Setup.

If you are doing a fresh install of Visual Studio Community Edition, after you install run Visual Studio installer, update, and then make sure the desktop C++ kit, including optional CLI support, Windows 8.1 SDK, and VC2015 toolset for desktop are installed.

After all this is done, make a fork of this repo, clone the repo and get the required submodules with the following commands.

git clone{your-user-name}/surge.git
cd surge
git submodule update --init --recursive

Build with Windows by running


You can also, instead of running build.cmd, generate the project files by using

premake5 vs2017

After which you can open the freshly generated Visual Studio solution Surge.sln - If you had the VST2.4SDK folder specified prior to running premake5, you will have surge-vst2.vcxproj and surge-vst3.vcxproj in your Surge folder.

Now, to build the installer, open the file installer_win/surge.iss by using Inno Setup. Inno Setup will bake an installer and place it in installer_win/Output/


In addition to having Git and premake5 in your path, Surge builds require you have both Xcode and Xcode Command Line Utilities installed. The commandline to install the Xcode Command Line Utilities is

xcode-select --install

Once that's done, fork this repo, clone it, and update submodules.

git clone{your-user-name}/surge.git
cd surge
git submodule update --init --recursive

Building with has all the commands you need to build, test, locally install, validate, and package Surge on Mac. It's what the primary Mac developers use day to day. The simplest approach is to build everything with


this command will build, but not install, the VST3 and AU components. It has a variety of options which are documented in the ./ --help screen but a few key ones are:

  • ./ --build-validate-au will build the audio unit, correctly install it locally in ~/Library and run au-val on it. Running any of the installing options of ./build-osx will install assets on your system. If you are not comfortable removing an audio unit by hand and the like, please exercise caution.

  • ./ --build-and-install will build all assets and install them locally

  • ./ --clean-all will clean your work area of all assets

  • ./ --clean-and-package will do a complete clean, thena complete build, then build a mac installer package which will be deposited in products.

  • ./ --package will create a .pkg file with a reasonable name. If you would like to use an alternate version number, the packaging script is in installer_mac.

./ is also impacted by a couple of environment variables.

  • VST2SDK_DIR points to a vst2sdk. If this is set vst2 will build. If you set it after having done a run without vst2, you will need to ./ --clean-all to pick up vst2 consistently

  • BREWBUILD=TRUE will use homebrew clang. If XCode refuses to build immediately with error: invalid value 'c++17' in '-std=c++17' and you do not want to upgrade XCode to a more recent version, use homebrew to install llvm and set this variable.

Using Xcode

premake xcode4 builds xcode assets so if you would rather just use xcode, you can open the solutions created after running premake yourself or having ./ run it.

After the build runs, be it successful or not, you can now launch Xcode and open the Surge folder. Let Xcode do it's own indexing / processing, which will take a while.

All of the three projects (surge-vst3, surge-vst2, surge-au) will recommend you to Validate Project Settings, meaning, more precisely, to Update to recommended settings. By clicking on Update to recommended settings, a dialog will open and you'll be prompted to Perform Changes. Perform the changes.

Xcode will result in built assets in products/ but will not install them and will not install the ancilliary assets. To do that you can either ./ --install-local or ./ --package and run the resulting pkg file to install in /Library.


Download premake5 from

Untar the package, and move it to ~/bin/ or elsewhere in your path so the install script can find it.

For VST2, you will need the VST2 SDK - unzip it to a folder of your choice and set VST2SDK_DIR to point to it.

export VST2SDK_DIR="/your/path/to/VST2SDK"

You will need to install a set of dependencies.

  • build-essential
  • libcairo-dev
  • libxkbcommon-x11-dev
  • libxkbcommon-dev
  • libxcb-cursor-dev
  • libxcb-keysyms1-dev
  • libxcb-util-dev

Then fork this repo, git clone surge and update the submodules:

git clone{your-user-name}/surge.git
cd surge
git submodule update --init --recursive

You can now build with the command

./ build

which will run premake and build the asset.

To use the VST, you need to install it locally along with supporting files. You can do this manually if you desire, but the build script will also do it.

./ install --local

Script will install vst2 to $HOME/.vst dir. To change this, edit vst2_dest_path to taste. Without --local files will be installed to system locations (needs sudo).

For other options, you can do ./ --help.

Continuous Integration

In addition to the build commands above, we use azure pipelines to do continuous integration. This means each of your pull requests will be automatically built in all of our environments, and a clean build on all platforms is an obvious pre-requisite. If you have questions about our CI tools, please ask on our Slack channel.


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