libffi

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libffi
Developer(s) Anthony Green
Initial release 7 October 1996
Stable release 3.2 / November 11, 2014 (2014-11-11)
Written in C, Assembly language
Operating system Unix-like, Windows, Mac OS, iOS, BareMetal ⁠OS
Type Runtime library
License MIT License[1]
Website http://sourceware.org/libffi

libffi is a foreign function interface library. It provides a C programming language interface for calling natively compiled functions given information about the target function at run time instead of compile time. It also implements the opposite functionality: libffi can produce a pointer to a function that can accept and decode any combination of arguments defined at run time.

libffi is most often used as a bridging technology between compiled and interpreted language implementations. libffi may also be used to implement plug-ins, where the plug-in's function signatures are not known at the time of creating the host application.

Notable users include Python, Haskell, Dalvik, F-Script, PyPy, PyObjC, RubyCocoa, JRuby, Rubinius, MacRuby, gcj, GNU Smalltalk, IcedTea, Cycript, Pawn, Squeak, Java Native Access, Common Lisp (via CFFI), Racket,[2] Embeddable Common Lisp and Mozilla.[3]

On Mac OS X, libffi is commonly used with BridgeSupport, which provides programming language neutral descriptions of framework interfaces, and Nu which binds direct Objective-C access from Lisp.

libffi has been widely ported and is released under a MIT license.

History[edit]

libffi, originally developed by Anthony Green, was inspired by the Gencall library from Silicon Graphics. Gencall was developed by Gianni Mariani, then employed by SGI, for the purpose of allowing calls to functions by address and creating a call frame for the particular calling convention. Anthony Green refined the idea and extended it to other architectures and calling conventions and open sourcing libffi.

Adoption[edit]

The libffi library is useful in building a bridge between interpreted and natively compiled code. Some notable users include:

D[edit]

libffi-d
Bindings to the libffi library for D. Primarily used for the MCI.

F-Script[edit]

F-Script
Dynamically generates Cocoa classes written in F-Script.

Guile[edit]

GNU Guile
libffi is used in Guile 1.9.8 and onwards

Haskell[edit]

GHC
libffi has been used for the majority of the FFI performed by the GHC since late 2009.

Java[edit]

OpenJDK
The open-source implementation of the Java Platform Standard Edition uses libffi to bridge between the interpreter and native code for Zero-Assembly port.
Dalvik
Dalvik is the virtual machine which runs the Java platform on Android mobile devices. libffi is used on Android ports for which no custom bridging code has been written.
Java Native Access (JNA)
The JNI-free way to call native code from Java.
gcj
The runtime library for the GNU Compiler for the Java Programming Language uses libffi to handle calls back and forth between interpreted and natively compiled code. gcj is part of the GCC, the GNU Compiler Collection.

JavaScript[edit]

JSCocoa
Call Objective-C code from javascript on Mac OSX and the iPhone (via the libffi-iphone port).
Mozilla
libffi is used in the js-ctypes library (previously known as ctypes.jsm) to call C functions within JavaScript code (available in XULRunner applications, Firefox extensions etc).[4]
node-ffi
A Node.js addon for loading and calling dynamic libraries from JavaScript.

Lisp[edit]

cffi-libffi
The standard foreign function interface library for Common Lisp CFFI includes the cffi-libffi system to include support for passing and returning structure arguments by value.

Perl[edit]

FFI::Raw
A thin wrapper around libffi.

Python[edit]

CPython
The default, most-widely used implementation of the Python programming language uses libffi in the standard ctypes library.
PyObjC
Call Objective-C code from Python on Mac OSX.

Racket[edit]

Racket
Call C code from this popular Scheme implementation (also used as the implementation platform for Paul Graham's new Lisp, Arc).

Ruby[edit]

Fiddle
A libffi wrapper in the Ruby Standard Library
Ruby-FFI
A Foreign Function Interface extension for Ruby.
RubyCocoa
Call Objective-C code from Ruby on Mac OSX.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://github.com/atgreen/libffi/blob/master/LICENSE
  2. ^ http://repository.readscheme.org/ftp/papers/sw2004/barzilay.pdf
  3. ^ http://hg.mozilla.org/mozilla-central/file/2dc00d4b379a/js/ctypes/libffi
  4. ^ https://developer.mozilla.org/en/js-ctypes, js-ctypes reference

External links[edit]