Generating the .defs files.

The .defs files are text files, in a lisp format, that describe the API of a C library, including its

  • objects (GObjects, widgets, interfaces, boxed-types and plain structs)
  • functions
  • enums
  • signals
  • properties
  • vfuncs

At the moment, we have separate tools for generating different parts of these .defs, so we split them up into separate files. For instance, in the gtk/src directory of the gtkmm sources, you will find these files:


Includes the other files.


Objects and functions.




Signals and properties.


vfuncs (function pointer member fields in structs), written by hand.

The skeletonmm/codegen/ script generates all .defs files and the *_docs.xml file, described in the Documentation section.

G.2.1. Generating the methods .defs

This .defs file describes objects and their functions. It is generated by the script which you can find in glibmm's tools/defs_gen directory. For instance,

$ ./ /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gtk/*.h > gtk_methods.defs

G.2.2. Generating the enums .defs

This .defs file describes enum types and their possible values. It is generated by the script which you can find in glibmm's tools directory. For instance,

$ ./ /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gtk/*.h > gtk_enums.defs

G.2.3. Generating the signals and properties .defs

This .defs file describes signals and properties. It is generated by the special generate_extra_defs utility that is in every wrapping project, such as gtkmm/tools/extra_defs_gen/. For instance

$ cd tools/extra_defs_gen
$ ./generate_extra_defs > gtk_signals.defs

You must edit the source code of your own generate_extra_defs tool in order to generate the .defs for the GObject C types that you wish to wrap. In the skeleton source tree, the source file is named codegen/extradefs/ If not done so already, the file should be renamed, with the basename of your new binding substituted for the skeleton placeholder. The codegen/ file should also mention the new source filename.

Then edit the .cc file to specify the correct types. For instance, your main() function might look like this:

#include <libsomething.h>

int main(int, char**)

  std::cout << get_defs(SOME_TYPE_WIDGET)
            << get_defs(SOME_TYPE_STUFF);
  return 0;

G.2.4. Writing the vfuncs .defs

This .defs file describes virtual functions (vfuncs). It must be written by hand. There is the skeleton file skeleton/src/skeleton_vfunc.defs to start from. You can also look at gtkmm's gtk/src/gtk_vfuncs.defs file.