Building Spirit on Windows

Binary packages are currently not provided! Therefore, you need to build the Spirit core library or the desktop user interface yourself.

The Spirit framework is designed to run across different platforms and uses CMake for its build process, which will generate the appropriate build scripts for each platform.

Note that you may use the CMake GUI to configure the options or use the command line, for example through the git bash.

Core library


  • cmake >= 3.10
  • compiler with C++14 support, e.g. msvc 19.10 (VS 2017, version 15.1)


The Visual Studio Version needs to be specified and it usually makes sense to specify 64bit, as it otherwise defaults to 32bit. The version number and year may be different for you, Win64 can be appended to any of them. Execute cmake -G to get a listing of the available generators.

# enter the top-level Spirit directory
$ cd spirit

# make a build directory and enter that
$ mkdir build
$ cd build

# Generate a solution file
$ cmake -G "Visual Studio 14 2015 Win64" ..

# Either open the .sln with Visual Studio, or run
$ cmake --build . --config Release

You can also open the CMake GUI and configure and generate the project solution there. The solution file can be opened and built using Visual Studio, which is especially useful for debugging.

Desktop GUI

By default, the Qt desktop GUI will try to build. The corresponding CMake option is SPIRIT_UI_CXX_USE_QT. To build the immediate mode (IM GUI) instead, use SPIRIT_UI_USE_IMGUI=ON.

Additional requirements

  • OpenGL drivers >= 3.3
  • The Qt GUI requires Qt >= 5.7 (including qt-charts)

Necessary OpenGL drivers should be available through the regular drivers for any remotely modern graphics card.

Note that in order to build with Qt as a dependency on Windows, you may need to add path/to/qt/qtbase/bin to your PATH variable.

Python package

The Python package is built by default. The corresponding CMake option is SPIRIT_BUILD_FOR_PYTHON. The package is then located at core/python. You can then

  • make it locatable, e.g. by adding path/to/spirit/core/python to your PYTHONPATH
  • cd core/python and pip install -e . --user to install it

Alternatively, the most recent release version can be installed from the official package, e.g. pip install spirit --user.

OpenMP backend

Using OpenMP on Windows is not officially supported. While you can use other compiler/implementation combinations, the build process tends to be nontrivial. We recommend using LLVM/clang.

CUDA backend

The CUDA backend can be used to speed up calculations by using a GPU.

At least version 8 of the CUDA toolkit is required and the GPU needs compute capability 3.0 or higher!

Note that the GUI cannot be used on the CUDA backend on Windows! (see the CUDA programming guide: coherency and requirements)

Note: the precision of the core will be automatically set to float in order to avoid the performance cost of double precision operations on GPUs.


You need to set the corresponding SPIRIT_USE_CUDA CMake variable, e.g. by calling

cd build
cd ..

or by setting the option in the CMake GUI and re-generating.

You may additionally need to

  • manually set the host compiler (”C:/Program Files (x86)/…/bin/cl.exe)
  • manually set the CUDA Toolkit directory in the CMake GUI or pass the CUDA_TOOLKIT_ROOT_DIR to cmake or edit it in the root CMakeLists.txt
  • select the appropriate arch for your GPU using the SPIRIT_CUDA_ARCH CMake variable
  • add the CUDA Toolkit directory to the Windows PATH, so that the libraries will be found when the code is executed

Web apps

Using emscripten, the Spirit core library and ImGUI app can be built to web assembly (wasm), meaning they can be run in the browser.

The CMake options you need to set to ON is called SPIRIT_BUILD_FOR_JS and SPIRIT_UI_USE_IMGUI.

The build process on Windows has not been tested by us and we do not officially support it.

Further build configuration options

More options than described above are available, allowing for example to deactivate building the Python library or the unit tests.

To list all available build options, call

cd build
cmake -LH ..

The build options of Spirit all start with SPIRIT_.


Please note that the following steps are not well-tested!

This step is not needed, unless you wish to redistribute spirit. A system-wide installation is not supported.

Setting the CMake option SPIRIT_BUNDLE_APP=ON will cause the install step to create a redistibutable folder containing all the necessary binaries.

If you then trigger the packaging step, a zip of this folder will be generated.