Build guide

F3D uses a CMake based build system, so building F3D just requires installing needed dependencies, configuring and building.


  • CMake >= 3.1.
  • VTK >= 9.0.0 (9.2.6 recommended).
  • A C++17 compiler.
  • A CMake-compatible build system (Visual Studio, XCode, Ninja, Make, etc.).
  • Optionally, Assimp >= 5.0.
  • Optionally, Open CASCADE OCCT >= 7.5.2.
  • Optionally, Alembic >= 1.7.
  • Optionally, Draco >= 1.5.
  • Optionally, Python >= 3.6 and pybind11 >= 2.2.
  • Optionally, Java >= 18.

VTK compatibility

As stated in the dependencies, F3D is compatible with VTK >= 9.0.0, however, many features are only available in certain conditions. We suggest using VTK 9.2.6 with RenderingRayTracing, RenderingExternal and IOExodus modules enabled in order to get as many features as possible in F3D.

Configuration and building

Configure and generate the project with CMake, then build the software using your build system.

Here is some CMake options of interest:

  • F3D_BUILD_APPLICATION: Build the F3D executable.
  • BUILD_TESTING: Enable the tests.
  • F3D_MACOS_BUNDLE: On macOS, build a .app bundle.
  • F3D_WINDOWS_GUI: On Windows, build a Win32 application (without console).
  • F3D_WINDOWS_BUILD_SHELL_THUMBNAILS_EXTENSION: On Windows, build the shell thumbnails extension.
  • F3D_PLUGINS_STATIC_BUILD: Build all plugins as static library (embedded into libf3d) and automatically loaded by the application. Incompatible with F3D_MACOS_BUNDLE.

Some modules, plugins and bindings depending on external libraries can be optionally enabled with the following CMake variables:

  • F3D_MODULE_RAYTRACING: Support for raytracing rendering. Requires that VTK has been built with OSPRay and VTK_MODULE_ENABLE_VTK_RenderingRayTracing turned on. Disabled by default.
  • F3D_MODULE_EXTERNAL_RENDERING: Support for external render window, Requires that VTK has been built with VTK_MODULE_ENABLE_VTK_RenderingExternal turned on. Disabled by default.
  • F3D_PLUGIN_BUILD_EXODUS: Support for ExodusII (.ex2) file format. Requires that VTK has been built with IOExodus module (and hdf5). Enabled by default.
  • F3D_PLUGIN_BUILD_OCCT: Support for STEP and IGES file formats. Requires OpenCASCADE. Disabled by default.
  • F3D_PLUGIN_BUILD_ASSIMP: Support for FBX, DAE, OFF and DXF file formats. Requires Assimp. Disabled by default.
  • F3D_PLUGIN_BUILD_ALEMBIC: Support for ABC file format. Requires Alembic. Disabled by default.
  • F3D_PLUGIN_BUILD_DRACO: Support for DRC file format. Requires Draco. Disabled by default.
  • F3D_BINDINGS_PYTHON: Generate python bindings (requires Python and pybind11). Disabled by default.
  • F3D_BINDINGS_JAVA: Generate java bindings (requires Java and JNI). Disabled by default.


It’s possible to use VCPKG to automatically build dependencies. A manifest file vcpkg.json is available at your convenience. Please read VCPKG documentation.
Basically, just install VCPKG, and configure F3D using -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=[path to vcpkg]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake option.


Installation can be done through CMake, by running the following command:

cmake --install ${your_build_dir}

Optional components can be installed by specifying the component name:

cmake --install ${your_build_dir} --component ${component_name}

Here is the list of the optional components you can install:

  • mimetypes: Install plugins mimetype XML files for integration with Freedesktop (Linux only).
  • configuration: Install default configuration files , config and thumbnail.
  • sdk: Install the libf3d SDK.