Build freetype and harfbuzz as Windows DLLs

2 May 2017

Here is a quick guide for building both FreeType and Harfbuzz as shared libraries (DLLs) on Windows. For this guide, only the x64 version will be built - although the instructions should also work for x86.

For the following I’m using Visual Studio 2017 Community Edition.

Build FreeType DLL

Download the source code for FreeType2. At the time of this writing, the version is 2.7.1.

Open builds/windows/vc2010/freetype.sln in Visual Studio 2017. Hit OK when asked to Retarget Projects to the newer compiler.

Select Release Multithreaded for the Configuration, and x64 for the platform. If you want to link dynamically to the CRT, select Release for the Configuration.

Select Project -> freetype Properties from the menu. Make sure your configuration (Release Multithreaded) and platform (x64) are selected.

Change the Configuration Type from Static Library to Dynamic Library (.dll) and change the Target Name to freetype as highlighted below:

alt text

Open the ftoption.h header file and find the defines for FT_EXPORT and FT_EXPORT_DEF - they are probably commented out.

Set the value of both defines to __declspec(dllexport) x

  /*                                                                       */
  /* DLL export compilation                                                */
  /*                                                                       */
  /*   When compiling FreeType as a DLL, some systems/compilers need a     */
  /*   special keyword in front OR after the return type of function       */
  /*   declarations.                                                       */
  /*                                                                       */
  /*   ...                                                                 */
  /*                                                                       */
  /*   You can provide your own implementation of FT_EXPORT and            */
  /*   FT_EXPORT_DEF here if you want.  If you leave them undefined, they  */
  /*   will be later automatically defined as `extern return_type' to      */
  /*   allow normal compilation.                                           */
  /*                                                                       */
  /*   Do not #undef these macros here since the build system might define */
  /*   them for certain configurations only.                               */
  /*                                                                       */
#define FT_EXPORT(x) __declspec(dllexport) x
#define FT_EXPORT_DEF(x)  __declspec(dllexport) x

Ready to build

Build the solution - when complete, you should end up with a freetype.dll and freetype.lib in the objs/vc2010/x64 subfolder.

Now, we can use the .lib and headers from freetype to build the harfbuzz DLL for text shaping.

Build Harfbuzz DLL

To build harfbuzz, we’ll copy the headers from the include folder in the freetype source distro to the directory C:\usr\local\include.

Copy the newly built freetype.lib to C:\usr\local\lib

Download a release tarball of harfbuzz

Unfortunately, the Windows build instructions for harfbuzz do not seem to work with the source tree on github. Instead, use a release tarball (I’m using 1.4.6).

If you targeted Release Multithreaded in the above steps, then freetype was built with the /MT compiler option to statically link to the CRT. By default, Harfbuzz will use /MD - so we’ll change that in the win32/detectenv-msvc.mak file. You can skip this step, if you targeted freetype to use /MD as well.

Below is the snippet from detectenv-msvc.mak that we will modify:

# One may change these items, but be sure to test
# the resulting binaries
!if "$(CFG)" == "release"
!if $(VSVER) > 9 && $(VSVER) < 14
# Undocumented "enhance optimized debugging" switch. Became documented
# as "/Zo" in VS 2013 Update 3, and is turned on by default in VS 2015.

Change the /MD and /MDd above to /MT and /MTd respectively.

Ready to Build

Use the CMD shortcuts installed with Visual Studio to open a command prompt using the x64 Native Tools.

cd to the win32 subdirectory in the harfbuzz source tree.

Run the following command for nmake: (note: the PREFIX option to use our freetype headers+lib from above)

nmake /f CFG=release PREFIX="c:\usr\local" FREETYPE=1 HARFBUZZ_DLL_FILENAME=release\x64\harfbuzz

When complete, you should end up with a harfbuzz.dll and harfbuzz.lib in the win32\release\x64 subfolder.