Command-line GPAC compiling on Windows (x86) using free Microsoft Visual C++

Table of contents


Windows users often ask about how to compile GPAC and generate an installer. The main problem on platforms, like Windows, that don’t rely on a modern package system is to get your dependencies with the correct version. Fortunately, we release a package containing most of the extra-libs we use.

The first reaction of unix users when compiling GPAC is to use an existing gnu/gcc compilation chain (Cygwin, MinGW…). However another free solution exists using Microsoft Visual Studio Express Edition. This article gives you some strong clues about the tools you need to recompile binaries and generate an installer using the latter.

This article was made using a clean install within a virtualized Windows XP. It focuses on command-lines but converting and compiling projects from the GUI works.

Getting the tools

  • Download Visual C++ Express on the web (2010 has been used for this article).
  • Ensure you have access to msbuild.exe which is provided with the .NET framework 3.5 (it should be installed on any up-to-date Windows): %WINDIR%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v3.5\MSBuild.exe
    From now, I’ll assume it is in your path and therefore refer it as MSBuild.exe
  • You’ll need to compile assembly code using NASM. Add the binaries’ directory to your PATH.
  • SDL (alternative audio/video output for the player) and Gecko (to have the GPAC player as a Firefox plugin) installs need wget.exe to download resources from web servers.
  • SDL install needs to unzip a file. Therefore put unzip.exe within your PATH to have SDL support.
  • OpenHEVC support requires that you have git.exe in your PATH.
  • Visual C++ Express Edition lacks support for MFC/AFX which are frameworks to build native Windows applications. Consequently you won’t be able to build the player with a Windows GUI (Osmo4) or the Internet Explorer plug-in (GPAX). The DirectX audio/video output also needs it (see below).
  • If you have MFC/AFX support (ie Visual C++ with a non-free edition, see previous bullet) and wish to have native audio/video outputs using DirectX on your player, you shall install the DirectX SDK from the Microsoft website.
    Rem: some users told us June 2010 DirectX SDK got rid of some needed components. February 2010 SDK should work.

Note: if you don’t have the MFC/AFX headers, GPAC still provides you with SDL as an audio/video output. The GUI is also not necessary as GPAC provides a command-line player (MP4Client).

Getting the source code (or organizing it)

Make sure you have git and subversion installed on your system, and add the subversion binaries to your path.

Create a directory that I’ll call “root directory” in this article. All the commands are executed from your root directory. Open a prompt and then type the 2 following commands:

Unzip so that you have a gpac_extra_libs directory containing the files.

Compiling GPAC dependencies (extra libs)

The GPAC extra_libs package is provided with a Visual Studio 2005 solution, we need to upgrade it (note: if you use the graphical interface, Visual C++ will try to convert it automatically) :

  • If you have a commercial edition of Visual C++:


    1. Find devenv within your Visual C++ install directory (should be %VS90COMNTOOLS%\..\IDE\devenv.exe
    Check the compilation ha
  • If you have a free edition of Visual C++:
    1. Find vcbuild.exe within your Visual C++ install directory (should be %PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\vcpackages\vcbuild.exe)

VCbuild actually compiles the solution as it converts it. Sometimes VCbuild tries to build configurations that will fail (“RELEASE|SMARTPHONE 2003 (ARMV4)” for instance) : ignore them.

Check the compilation has succeeded by listing the directory containing the binaries:


You’re expected to see .lib and .dll files relative to the extra libs you’re interested in (compulsory zlib, then optional js, png, jpeg, faad, mad, freetype, etc.).

Copy the binaries to the right GPAC directories. Execute:


Compiling GPAC

If you get a pre-generation error, please check subversion binaries (and especially svnversion) are in your PATH.

All projects won’t compile on your desktop using this configuration. For instance Platinum (UPnP) support is not covered by this article.

If you want to have some audio/video support, make sure you installed the optional packages at the “Getting the tools” step.

Making an installer

GPAC uses NSIS to generate an installer. The NSIS script is located at bin\Win32\release\nsis_install\gpac_installer.nsi.

The current script won’t succeed unless you have successfully compiled everything.

Therefore you need to modify the script (remove lines relative to the missing binaries). Depending on what you have done, you have two possibilities:

  • launch the script from the bin\Win32\release\nsis_install directory to generate an unversionned installer;
  • if you have no local modification on the repository, launch the batch from the GPAC root directory (gpac_public\generate_installer.bat) to generate a clean versionned installer of GPAC.