Reducing dependencies on Windows

  • Paavo Helde

    Paavo Helde - 2012-09-10

    I am looking for a way to render (some simple subset of) SVG files as bitmap
    images, with minimal compilation and installation hassles, on Win/Mac/Linux
    (primarily 64-bit). The solution so far has been to use ImageMagick, but this
    library is considered too hairy and complex and we are looking for something
    more maintainable. I tried to compile librsvg on Windows under MinGW, but
    after the 20-th dependency appeared to be Python interpreter I gave up. Now I
    am looking into wxsvg, at first it looked promising, the wxWidgets library
    even had some (outdated) msvc project files and seemed quite self-contained.
    However, now the dependencies are creeping up again. It appears that when
    compiling wxsvg one can choose the renderer as either agg, libart or cairo.
    The first one seems to be unmaintained and has GPL license so we could not use
    it anyway. Cairo has zillion dependencies again. Libart looked promising, but
    then I discovered a line in wxsvg:

    include <pango pangoft2.h="">

    It seems this is for text rendering only, but this is probably dragging in
    again the whole pango and cairo. I feel a bit frustrated, the effort needed to
    get some simple SVG-s rendered seems to be wildly out of sync with the
    importance of this feature in our program (<0.01%). I do not know much about
    SVG itself and its needs, but I know there is a Windows SDK function called
    DrawText, why cannot a cross-platform library just use this function on
    Windows instead of dragging in some 20-library dependency chain? Maybe I
    should look for some other library?


  • Alex Thuering

    Alex Thuering - 2012-09-10

    Actually agg backend doesn't depend on pango, but it is deprecated now (as
    well as libart backend).

    Only cairo backend is maintained. And it doesn't have million dependencies:
    only png and zlib. See cairo package at

  • Paavo Helde

    Paavo Helde - 2012-09-11

    Thanks for the response, I will try a little bit more. BTW, pkconfig under
    MinGW thinks that cairo also depends on gobject, glib, pixman and freetype2.
    OTOH, the readme.win32 in the cairo download says that it depends on pixman
    only (apart of libpng and zlib which are indeed easy).

    As it seems MinGW builds insist on more dependencies than actually needed, I
    will try to build with MSVC for a change. Cairo's readme.win32 also contains
    some instructions for building pixman with MSVC. Alas, in pixman-0.24.0 there
    is indeed a Makefile.win32, but this refers to a missing Makefile.win32.common
    and seems to not work without it. So I am stuck again...

  • Paavo Helde

    Paavo Helde - 2012-09-11

    Ok, after some hacking and adding new MSVC projects where they were missing I
    was able to compile wxsvg together with cairo and pixman as static libraries
    and the Render example from seems to work!

  • Paavo Helde

    Paavo Helde - 2012-09-12

    Sorry, one more related question. In Windows, I was able to build wxsvg
    without pango, but what about Linux? The configure script is failing when it
    does not find pango. Is this fundamental or could I somehow hack around it? I
    am asking because on Windows configure under MinGW also insisted on pango, but
    it came out it was actually not needed.

    I will certainly need some text rendering in SVG, but surely wxWidgets and/or
    cairo are also able to render text, aren't they?



  • Alex Thuering

    Alex Thuering - 2012-09-13

    Under Linux wxSVG uses pangocairo (part of pango) to render text to path.

    There is no need to simply render the text but render with gradients, outline



  • Paavo Helde

    Paavo Helde - 2012-09-13

    Thanks for the answer. OK, I see pango is needed and I got it compiling in
    Linux. However, there are other hairy parts. I am building a back-end library
    which does not have any GUI at all, so I tried to eliminate some complexity by
    building wxWidgets with --disable-gui. Alas, this did not compile the classes
    I need, for example wxImage (adding --enable-image did not help). Without
    --disable-gui it however requires gtk+, which is very hairy itself and
    currently its compilation fails with some obscure errors (probably because I
    am trying to build everything as static libraries).

    So, is it possible to build wxWidgets without gtk+ on Linux, but still have
    wxImage support?

  • Alex Thuering

    Alex Thuering - 2012-09-13

    Actually image.cpp is stored in the sub-directory "common" and, I think, it
    can be compiled without GUI. But I have no idea how to do this.

    You can also try to build wxWidgets with universal GUI (--enable-universal)
    instead of GTK+ GUI.

  • Paavo Helde

    Paavo Helde - 2012-09-18

    Yes, it appears with --disable-gui it would require extensive source code
    hacking to get wxImage compiled. Neither did --enable-universal work, it seems
    this is not really a toolkit; configure still wanted to use GTK or some other

    Fortunately I discovered there is another toolkit which is smaller and self-
    contained: DirectFB. It does not support many of wxWidgets features so these
    have to be disable separataly (which is only good!). Finally I ended up with

    ./configure --enable-monolithic --with-directfb --with-themes=mono --disable-
    accel --disable-popupwin ....

    (altogether 87 --disable-... options), plus some minor code fixes to add
    forgotten feature test #ifdef-s. Now I finally got wxsvg compiling and running
    on Linux. For the record, here is the list of required libraries:











  • Alex Thuering

    Alex Thuering - 2012-09-18

    The most of people use wxWidgets to get multi-platform GUI and so it's
    eventually one of few cases that you need it without GUI :)


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