Checklist for making a GObject based library using autotools provide introspection support. It's not comprehensive, you'll need to adapt this for the library you're adding introspection support to.

There are 2 ways to add introspection support, one adds the introspection m4 to the distribution, and the library will still build even if introspection is not installed. The other method will add a build dependency on introspection (you will need introspection installed to run ./autogen or ./configure)

Method 1 - Recommended - most portable

  • copy the m4 file into your distribution (check your distribution to see where m4 files normally go, this may be 'common' in some applications

  Create an m4 directory in the root
  copy gobject-introspection/m4/introspection.m4 to m4/
  copy /usr/share/aclocal/introspection.m4 to m4/
  • (or if no .ac file is used)

#-- these may be in the file already, or you may need to modify the existing lines.

# Gobject Introspection
#-- add the correct m4 directory location.

#-- any typos here, and you will end up with a message about HAVE_INTROSPECTION not being defined
  • (modify these variables in the file, you may have to add them to existing definitions, make sure m4 location is correct)

  DISTCHECK_CONFIGURE_FLAGS = --enable-introspection
  EXTRA_DIST = m4/introspection.m4
  SUBDIRS = m4 ...

Method 2 - Add a build dependency on Introspection

Introspection will be required to build the library, however you will not have to update the m4 files in the future.

  • (or if no .ac file is used)


  DISTCHECK_CONFIGURE_FLAGS = --enable-introspection

or just add to the existing DISTCHECK_CONFIGURE_FLAGS

Method 1 and Method 2

  • foo/ - must be near the end (after CLEANFILES has been set)

  INTROSPECTION_SCANNER_ARGS = --add-include-path=$(srcdir) --warn-all
  INTROSPECTION_COMPILER_ARGS = --includedir=$(srcdir)

  introspection_sources = $(libfoo_1_0_la_SOURCES)

  Foo_1_0_gir_INCLUDES = GObject-2.0
  Foo_1_0_gir_CFLAGS = $(INCLUDES)
  Foo_1_0_gir_LIBS =
  Foo_1_0_gir_FILES = $(introspection_sources)

  girdir = $(datadir)/gir-1.0

  typelibdir = $(libdir)/girepository-1.0
  typelib_DATA = $(INTROSPECTION_GIRS:.gir=.typelib)

  CLEANFILES += $(gir_DATA) $(typelib_DATA)

You can also check out a complete example at

Makefile variable documentation

INTROSPECTION_GIRS is the entry point, you should list all the gir files you want to build there in the XXX-Y.gir format where X is the name of the gir (for example Gtk) and Y is the version (for example 2.0).

If output is Gtk-2.0.gir then you should name the variables like Gtk_2_0_gir_NAMESPACE, Gtk_2_0_gir_VERSION etc.

  • Required variables:
    • FILES - C sources and headers which should be scanned

  • One of these variables are required:
    • LIBS - Library where the symbol represented in the gir can be found

    • PROGRAM - Program where the symbol represented in the gir can be found

  • Optional variables, commonly used:
    • INCLUDES - Gir files to include without the .gir suffix, for instance GLib-2.0, Gtk-2.0. This is needed for all libraries which you depend on that provides introspection information.

    • SCANNERFLAGS - Flags to pass in to the scanner, see g-ir-scanner(1) for a list

    • PACKAGES - list of pkg-config names which cflags are required to parse the headers of this gir. Note that INCLUDES will already fetch the packages and thus the cflags for all dependencies.

    • EXPORT_PACKAGES - List of pkg-config names which are provided by this Gir.

    • CFLAGS - Flags to pass in to the parser when scanning headers. Normally INCLUDES and PACKAGES will fetch the cflags for all dependencies. This is normally used for project specific CFLAGS.

    • LDFLAGS - Linker flags used by the scanner. Normally INCLUDES and PACKAGES will fetch the ldflags for all dependencies. This is normally used for project-specific LDFLAGS (for instance if you're building several libraries and typelibs).

  • Optional variables, seldomly used:
    • NAMESPACE - Namespace of the gir, first letter capital, rest should be lower case, for instance: 'Gtk', 'Clutter', 'ClutterGtk'. If not present the namespace will be fetched from the gir filename, the part before the first dash. For 'Gtk-2.0', namespace will be 'Gtk'.

    • VERSION - Version of the gir, if not present, will be fetched from gir filename, the part after the first dash. For 'Gtk-2.0', version will be '2.0'.

Projects/GObjectIntrospection/AutotoolsIntegration (last edited 2015-10-05 10:05:54 by PhilipWithnall)