Gimp Plugin Development environments

Aljacom has created great development environments for Gimp 2.8 32bits and 64bits. Follow instructions on

Outdated – Setting a GIMP Plugin development environment.

For now, creating a sane environment for GIMP Plugin development under windows is quite a pain. Here are some methods I tried. I strongly encourage you to use one of the two methods, as it seems to me they are the easier and lighter. The goal of this page is to set a working environment in order to create and compile plugins for win32. It depends on a full build of GIMP, as does brillantly, and is not intended to setting an environment to perform such a build.

MSVC – Using the LIB tool : download and at least glib2.0 and gtk2 win32 distribution on Tor Lillqvist’s page..

Cygwin / Mingw32 – Using dlltool : download or gimp-dev-mingw-2.2.1.DevPak and GLib2 and GTK2 DevPacks (available in the Packet Manager)
Cygwin – Compiling from scratch, or using pre-built librairies
MSVC – Compiling from scratch

MSVC – Using the Lib tool.

This method sticks exaclty to our needs : we want the import libraries (.lib) and headers that we can use with the win32 GIMP distribution found on, but we do not need to compile a regular DLL file on our environment : some smarter guys did it very well for us, and that will considerably simplify our job.

The Microsoft lib tool provided with MS Visual Studio, is able to generate import libraries from library definition files (.def), as explained in Q131313. And these .def files are included in the gimp source distribution. So we just have to :

  • Run lib /machine:i386 /def:<input def filename>.def /name:>wanted DLL name in distibution>.dll /out:<output lib filename>.lib (ex : lib /machine:i386 /def:gimp.def /name:libgimp-2.0-0.dll /out:libgimp-2.0.lib). Here is a simple batch file to do that.
  • Copy the headers in your include folder (lib*/*.h)
  • Install glib2.0 and gtk2 development packages (easily found on Tor Lillqvist’s page.)

And that’s all for building GIMP plugins ! This a very simple method to have a development package. I made it for GIMP 2.2.1 : download

Cygwin/Mingw32 – Using dlltool.

The same principles used above may be used for cygwin / mingw32. I have not tested it yet, but the following steps should work :

  • dlltool --input-def <input def filename>.def --dllname >wanted DLL name in distibution>.DLL --output-lib <output lib filename>.a -k
  • cp <output lib filename>.a /usr/local/lib (or in any another place you want)
  • ranlib /usr/local/lib/<output lib filename>.a

It works quite well. You can get it, as a zip ( ) or as a DevPak gimp-dev-mingw-2.2.1.DevPak for DevCPP

Cygwin – Compiling from scratch, or using pre-built librairies


Matthew H. Plough has a set of pre-built librairies. That worked pretty well with no effort and no cygwin dependancies, but gimptool-2.0.exe crashed, and I found the resulting environment a bit unclean. The crash of gimptool-2.0 is quite easy to fix (just replace in gimptool-win32.c line 143 r = strrchr (path, G_DIR_SEPARATOR);) by if (path == NULL) return ""; else r = strrchr (path, G_DIR_SEPARATOR);). But I tried to build a minimalistic sane cygwin environment, with the use of the provided packages.

Here are the steps I followed :

  • Install Cygwin, with the following packages : atk-devel, freetype2, gettext-devel, glib2-devel, gtk2-x11-devel, intltool, jpeg, libart_lgpl, libtool-devel, pango-devel, pkgconfig, tiff, libpng12-devel, libtiff-devel, libjpeg-devel, XFree86-lib-compat (I probably missed some, see my installed.db for complete list)
  • Install XML::Parser Perl module
  • Unzip gimp source code ; note that you should have no space in your directory name, it causes problems.
  • Launch ./configure --disable-print
  • If /etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders is missing, update it with gdk-pixbuf-query-loaders.exe > /etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders
  • Remove from SUBDIRS variable of the main generated Makefile “tools”, and everythind starting from “app” to the end. As we are only interested in libgimp* librairies, the rest is not useful.
  • make
    • If it fails on a libgimp non valid libtool library, just restart make (about 2-3 times), it should pass
    • If it fails with not found, bad luck, that’s a cygwin package hasard, try to remove -lpangoxft-1.0 from the corresponding Makefile.
  • make install !
    • If you encounter problems with libtool complaining, replace in libgimp/Makefile the line 376 no_undefined = -no-undefined by no_undefined = #-no-undefined
  • You should now get working librairies. To produce cygwin-independant executables, use -mno-cygwin (I got some cygwin problems with gcc-mingw and libXrender, so I have not tested that for now)

Note : the gimptool-2.0 installed is the normal shell script, and works quite well to compile plugins (everything is ok, except –install)

This was better than MSVC, but it did not satisfied me a lot, because I did not manage to compile fftw in a shared library (a lib I use in my fourier plugin), and so the resulting executable was very huge (more than 1 Mo, compared to ~20ko… with external fftw dll)

MSVC – Compiling from scratch

If you have many hours to waste, this one is made for you. You will have to download all librairies from Tor Lillqvist (tml) page, run nmake -f makefile.msc, and pray. You will have to patch some files, but it should compile the lib*. But, in my case, I finally got gimp-2.0.lib and gimp-2.0-0.dll, without the prefix lib. So it was incompatible with libgimp-2.0-0.dll distributed by… I guess it is not too difficult to change the name of the library, but this method did not seem good to me.


I wish to thank all the people that helped me :


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