ObjGTKGen is a utility that generates Objective-C language bindings for ObjFW using GObject Introspection (parsing GIR files). ObjGTKGen is free software, licensed under the GNU GPL.
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ObjGTKGen is a utility that generates Objective-C language bindings for GNOME GLib/Gobject based libraries using GObject Introspection (GOI), which it does by parsing GIR files.

ObjGTK is a fork of CoreGTK(Gen) by Tyler Burton for use with ObjFW by Jonathan Schleifer.


You may run objgtkgen as installed binary (f.e. within a flatpak app) or locally. it expects Config, Resources and LibrarySourceAdditions directories with the corresponding files to work with. It will look for these either in the configured data path (f.e. /usr/share/ObjGTKGen/) or . if the configured path is empty. You may tweak the app configuration and behaviour using the global_conf.json and library_conf.json files.

Run it like so:

objgtkgen </path/to/file.gir>


objgtkgen /usr/share/gir-1.0/Gtk-3.0.gir

This will generate the library definition for GTK3 into the output dir specified by the config file. The output will include all the library dependencies specified by Gtk-3.0.gir.

The generator is going to lookup these dependencies recursively at the path of the gir file specified as argument. You may exclude library and class dependencies of each library by modifying global_conf.json and library_conf.json.

Dependencies and building


  • You need ObjFW.
  • For building a generated library you need OGObject.
  • The GIR files for the library to generate a wrapper for - and all of its depending GIR files. This will be enough for generation of the wrapper source files. You are going to need all library files (shared library, headers, pkg-config description) and the files of the dependending libraries required for your library at build time (only).

GIR files

You may use the GIR files and libraries provided by your Linux distribution. F.e. for Debian Unstable and GTK3 use apt install gir1.2-gtk-3.0.

  • see packages starting with gir1.2 for further library introspection provided by Debian you may use to generate ObjC/ObjFW bindings

If you don't use a rolling Linux distribution, the GIR packages and its library sets may be out of date and lack features required by this generator. It then may be more appropriate to use some more recent library releases. If you want to get the current libraries (read: daily builds of the GNOME SDK) you may use flatpak (see below).

As noted by the GTK bindings for Rust project it may be helpful to consult the GIR format reference or the XML schema.


  • chmod +x autogen.sh && ./autogen.sh && ./configure && make


# Add the GNOME Nightly repo
flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists gnome-nightly https://nightly.gnome.org/gnome-nightly.flatpakrepo

# Install SDK and LLVM extension
flatpak install org.gnome.Sdk//master -y --noninteractive
flatpak install org.freedesktop.Sdk.Extension.llvm14//22.08 -y --noninteractive

# Build binary and install it in its sandbox
flatpak-builder build-dir --force-clean org.codeberg.objgtk.objgtkgen.yml --user --install

# Run the app: This will use the most current GIR files from the SDK and output ObjGTK3 to your local working directory:
flatpak run org.codeberg.ObjGTK.ObjGTKGen /usr/share/gir-1.0/Gtk-3.0.gir


Compiler: clang

clang >= 12 is recommended to make clang-format work correctly. Install latest stable clang/llvm on Debian like so:

wget -O- https://apt.llvm.org/llvm-snapshot.gpg.key | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/llvm-archive-keyring.gpg
echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/llvm-archive-keyring.gpg] http://apt.llvm.org/bullseye/ llvm-toolchain-bullseye-14 main
deb-src [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/llvm-archive-keyring.gpg] http://apt.llvm.org/bullseye/ llvm-toolchain-bullseye-14 main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/clang.list
sudo apt update
sudo apt-get install clang-14 clang-tools-14 clang-14-doc libclang-common-14-dev libclang-14-dev libclang1-14 clang-format-14 python3-clang-14 clangd-14 clang-tidy-14 lldb-14 lld-14
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/clang clang /usr/bin/clang-14 140 --slave /usr/bin/clang++ clang++ /usr/bin/clang++-14 --slave /usr/share/man/man1/clang.1.gz clang.1.gz /usr/share/man/man1/clang-14.1.gz --slave /usr/bin/clang-tidy clang-tidy /usr/bin/clang-tidy-14  --slave /usr/bin/clang-format clang-format /usr/bin/clang-format-14 --slave /usr/bin/clangd clangd /usr/bin/clangd-14 --slave /usr/bin/lldb lldb /usr/bin/lldb-14
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/cc cc /usr/bin/clang-14 140
sudo update-alternatives --config cc

IDE: VSCodium

VSCodium is a nice tool to program Objective-C, especially if used in conjunction with clang/llvm and its tools.

Install VSCodium on Linux as documented.

Install the following plugins:

  • clangd
  • Doxygen Documentation Generator

Use a configuration (settings.json) like this:

    "workbench.colorTheme": "Default Dark+",
    "git.autofetch": true,
    "files.associations": {
        "*.h": "objective-c"
    "[objective-c]": {

    "clangd.arguments": [


ObjGTKGen is free software. Its source files Tyler Burton originally released under GNU LGPL 2.1 or later. This licensing was kept for the files existing and for the directory LibrarySourceAdditions, which is meant to be part of the generated libraries and is NOT part of the generator.

In consent with Tyler Burton the generator itself is released under GNU GPL 3.0 or later.

Regarding GTK3 (and 4 or any other library wrapper) the generator is meant to generate wrapper source files which may be distributed under LGPL 2.1 or later.

Code base

The code base of ObjGTK should be compatible with the Objective C dialect of GCC ("Objective C 2.0") as introduced as of Mac OS X 10.5. So there should be no need to use clang.

Aim of the generator development is to generate library wrappers that map Objective-C memory management (MRC) to GObject memory management correctly. If this is achieved you should be able to use clang and ARC with any Objective-C app that builds upon these library wrappers.

Currently there are only untested, unstable preview releases of ObjGTK. Take care when using. API is going to change. See milestones for the further release plan.

How it works

The generator does the following currently:

  1. Using XMLReader it parses a GIR file (.gir) into object instances of the GIR classes (see directory src/GIR) (source models)
  2. Gir2Objc then maps the information of the GIR models into the models prefixed with OGTK (see directory src/Generator) (target models, "information objects"). Please note that these models still hold API/class informationen using C names and types as used by the Glib/GObject libraries. These models provide methods to transform their Glib ("c") data/names/types into Objective-C classes/names/types.
  3. It does the same for further libraries iterating recursively through all the libraries specified as dependencies by the GIR file given.
  4. When all library and class definitions are held in memory necessary to resolve class dependencies correctly using OGTKMapper, then OGTKLibraryWriter is called to first invoke OGTKClassWriter.
  5. OGTKClassWriter is going to write out the Objective-C class definitions (header and source files). It does so by resolving GObject types to Objective-C/OGTK types (swapping them) using the class mappings and definitions hold in multiple OFDictionarys by OGTKMapper. It wraps GObject C functions calls with Objective-C method calls/message sends.
  6. When all class files are written, additional source files, written manually, that may be provided through a directory within the directory named LibrarySourceAdditions are added to the Output directory (the generated library). Please note the classes located in the directory named LibrarySourceAdditions are not part of the generator itself. You may add your own code by creating new directories which naming convention needs to meet that of the corresponding gir file.

You will find the main business logic preparing data structures in Gir2Objc.m and Generator/OGTKMapper.m as Gir2Objc calls OGTKMapper for multiple loops through all the parsed (Gobj) class/API information to complete dependency information (naming of parent classes) and the dependency graph (parent classes, depending classes). This is necessary to correctly insert #import and @class statements when generating the ObjC class definitions without getting stuck in a circular dependency loop.

For the actual generation and composition of the source files see Generator/OGTKLibraryWriter.m and Generator/OGTKClassWriter.m.