Dev:Building On Mac OS X

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Build using the native GTK port

In order to build Synfig natively on Mac OS X using the native GTK port (as opposed to using X11), you will require the following:

Boot strapping

First of all make sure you have a Terminal window open. This will be used in order to perform all the steps necessary to compile synfig.

This assumes you have the XCode developer tools installed. Next, you'll want to install the homebrew package manager. Visit the docs for installation instructions. These will not work for Mac OS X Tiger users, so if you are on Tiger type at your command prompt:

curl -Lsf | tar xz --strip 1 -C<your install directory, /usr/local/ recommended >

Now to install git and svn (assuming you've got the homebrew install directory in your path):

brew install git
brew install svn

Compilig GTK and other dependencies

Then you can install "gtkmm" with homebrew:

brew install gtkmm

You will also want gtk+:

brew install gtk+

Then you'll want libxml++, which is currently only available on the secondplanet fork of homebrew:

brew install libxml++

Synfig itself (Using homebrew and X11)

You should now be able to follow the Build Instructions to compile ETL, synfig-core, and synfig-studio. The only difference, of course, are the prefixes. To make all this easier the building can be done with homebrew. First, make sure you have secondplanet's fork of homebrew from github:

git clone git:// ~/secondplanet-homebrew 
# if you installed libxml++ as instructed above, this will already exist. If so, there is no need to execute this command.
cd ~/secondplanet-homebrew/

Then, build ETL by copying the etl formula and installing:

cd ~/secondplanet-homebrew/
git checkout -b etl remotes/secondplanet/etl
cp Library/Formula/etl.rb <homebrew install directory>/Library/Formula/
brew install etl

Then (assuming you are still on secondplanet's fork:

git checkout -b synfig remotes/secondplanet/synfig
cp Library/Formula/synfig.rb <homebrew install directory>/Library/Formula/
brew install synfig

And the same for synfigstudio:

git checkout -b synfigstudio remotes/secondplanet/synfigstudio
cp Library/Formula/synfigstudio.rb <homebrew install directory>/Library/Formula/
brew install synfigstudio

Assuming you manage to build it correctly, you should now be able to type the following in order for Synfig to pop up on your desktop:


WORK IN PROGRESS:Note though that this isn't the end of the story: we still need to package everything up into an .app so that the more sane of us can run Synfig without having to resort to opening a terminal. Some parts of these instructions are incomplete and are often changing. The package for etl is not part of the main homebrew fork as of this time, and neither are any other synfig packages.

TODO: Describe how to properly package everything into an .app. Describe how to build "synfig" and "synfig-studio" with homebrew. Describe build process w/ gtk-osx.


There are currently numerous issues with Synfig with Imendio's GTK port. Watch out for:

  • Window focus can sometimes be lost. If this happens, just select a window from another Mac OS X app and then select the Synfig window again.
  • Menus do not function correctly.
  • The file browser doesn't work, so you have to load files from startup.
  • Sometimes mouse focus on windows is lost. To solve this, try moving the affected window. Failing that, you should still be able to use the keyboard to navigate.
  • No input devices are enumerated by GTK.
  • XCode project files exist, but they are currently broken. Thus we just use the terminal to compile everything.

Synfig mac X11.png


no "awk"

If you get an error during building homebrew formulae complaining that a program called "awk" cannot be found, then you should install the 'gawk' formula like so:

brew install gawk

"no command found" when running jhbuild

When using jhbuild, you might get an error back like this:

$ jhbuild meta-gtk-osx-core
jhbuild meta-gtk-osx-core: no command found

This is because you need to specify the "build" command when building a package, like so:

jhbuild build meta-gtk-osx-core

problem building "doxygen" via jhbuild

When building doxygen, you may get an error during the build process mentioning "lipo" failed to find a file. To fix this, you should go into the shell (option 4) when prompted, and enter the following:

./configure --prefix /opt/gtk --platform macosx-c++ --install /usr/bin/install
make && exit

Then when prompted again, choose "ignore error and continue to build" (option 2).

problems with external libraries

If your build doesn't find external graphics libraries (such as libpng), but you know they're installed, you may need to set some additional environment variables, like so:

export CPPFLAGS=-I/opt/local/include
export LDFLAGS=-L/opt/local/lib

If you're using native GTK+, change "/opt/local" to "/opt/gtk".

Multiple X11's

If you get an error about display ports, you likely have multiple X11's installed. Just open up your favorite, click on the Applications > Customize… option, and then add an application with the name "synfigstudio" and command "synfigstudio" (w/out the quotes).