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d++ - #include C and C++ headers in D files

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To directly #include C and C++ headers in D files and have the same semantics and ease-of-use as if the file had been #included from C or C++ themselves. Warts and all, meaning that C enum declarations will pollute the global namespace, just as it does "back home".

This work was supported by Symmetry Investments.


// c.h
#ifndef C_H
#define C_H

#define FOO_ID(x) (x*3)

int twice(int i);

// c.c
int twice(int i) { return i * 2; }
// foo.dpp
#include "c.h"
void main() {
    import std.stdio;
    writeln(twice(FOO_ID(5)));  // yes, it's using a C macro here!

At the shell:

$ gcc -c c.c
$ d++ foo.dpp c.o
$ ./foo
$ 30

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C++ support

C++ support is currently limited. Including any header from the C++ standard library is unlikely to work. Simpler headers might, the probability rising with how similar the C++ dialect used is to C. Despite that, dpp currently does try to translate classes, templates and operator overloading. It's unlikely to work on production headers without judicious use of the --ignore-cursor and --ignore-namespace command-line options. When using these, the user can then define their own versions of problematic declarations such as std::vector.


  • Only known to work on Linux with libclang versions 6 and up. It might work in different conditions.
  • When used on multiple files, there might be problems with duplicate definitions depending on imports. It is recommended to put all #includes in one .dpp file and import the resulting D module.
  • Not currently able to translate Linux kernel headers.

Success stories

Known project headers whose translations produce D code that compiles:

  • nanomsg/nn.h, nanomsg/pubsub.h
  • curl/curl.h
  • stdio.h, stdlib.h
  • pthread.h
  • julia.h
  • xlsxwriter.h
  • libvirt/libvirt.h, libvirt/virterror.h
  • libzfs
  • openssl/ssl.h
  • imapfilter.h
  • libetpan/libetpan.h
  • Python.h

Compilation however doesn't guarantee they work as expected and YMMV. Please consult the examples.

Command-line arguments

It is likely that the header or headers need -I flags to indicate paths to be searched, both by this executable and by libclang itself. The --include-path option can be used for that, once for each such path.

Use -h or --help to learn more.


d++ is an executable that wraps a D compiler such as dmd (the default) so that D files with #include directives can be compiled.

It takes a .dpp file and outputs a valid D file that can be compiled. The original can't since D has no preprocessor, so the .dpp file is "quasi-D", or "D with #include directives". The only supported C preprocessor directive is #include.

The input .dpp file may also use C preprocessor macros defined in the file(s) it #includes, just as a C/C++ program would (see the example above). It may not, however, define macros of its own.

d++ goes through the input file line-by-line, and upon encountering an #include directive, parses the file to be included with libclang, loops over the definitions of data structures and functions therein and expands in-place the relevant D translations. e.g. if a header contains:

uint16_t foo(uint32_t a);

The output file will contain:

ushort foo(uint a);

d++ will also enclose each one of these original #include directives with either extern(C) {} or extern(C++) {} depending on the header file name and/or command-line options.

As part of expanding the #include, and as well as translating declarations, d++ will also insert text to define macros originally defined in the #included translation unit so that these macros can be used by the D program. The reason for this is that nearly every non-trivial C API requires the preprocessor to use properly. It is possible to mimic this usage in D with enums and CTFE, but the result is not guaranteed to be the same. The only way to use a C or C++ API as it was intended is by leveraging the preprocessor.

Trivial literal macros however(e.g. #define THE_ANSWER 42) are translated as D enums.

As a final pass before writing the output D file, d++ will run the C preprocessor (currently the cpp binary installed on the system) on the intermediary result of expanding all the #include directives so that any used macros are expanded, and the result is a D file that can be compiled.

In this fashion a user can write code that's not-quite-D-but-nearly that can "natively" call into a C/C++ API by #includeing the appropriate header(s).

Translation notes


For convenience, this declaration:

enum Enum { foo, bar, baz }

Will generate this translation:

enum Enum { foo, bar, baz }
enum foo =;
enum bar =;
enum baz = Enum.baz;

This is to mimic C semantics with regards to the global namespace whilst also allowing one to, say, reflect on the enum type.

Renaming enums

There is the ability to rename C enums. With the following C definition:

enum FancyWidget { Widget_foo,  Widget_bar }

Then adding this to your .dpp file after the #include directive:

mixin dpp.EnumD!("Widget",      // the name of the new D enum
                 FancyWidget,   // the name of the original C enum
                 "Widget_");    // the prefix to cut out

will yield this translation:

enum Widget { foo, bar }

Names of structs, enums and unions

C has a different namespace for the aforementioned user-defined types. As such, this is legal C:

struct foo { int i; };
extern int foo;

The D translations just use the short name for these aggregates, and if there is a name collision with a variable or function, the latter two get renamed and have a pragma(mangle) added to avoid linker failures:

struct foo { int i; }
pragma(mangle, "foo") extern __gshared int foo_;

Functions or variables with a name that is a D keyword

Similary to name collisions with aggregates, they get an underscore appended and a pragma(mangle) added so they link:

void debug(const char* msg);


pragma(mangle, "debug")
void debug_(const(char)*);

Build Instructions


  1. Install into C:\Program Files\LLVM\, making sure to tick the "Add LLVM to the system PATH for all users" option.
  2. Make sure you have LDC installed somewhere.
  3. Compile with dub build --compiler=C:\path\to\bin\ldc2.exe.
  4. Copy C:\Program Files\LLVM\bin\libclang.dll next to the d++.exe in the bin directory.


  1. Install libclang-6.0-dev with apt
  2. dub install dpp
  3. dub run dpp -- yoursourcefilenamehere.dpp

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