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FLTK, fltk button example
The Fast, Light Toolkit FLTK, pronounced fulltick3 is a cross-platform widget graphical control element library for graphical user interfaces GUIs, developed by Bill Spitzak and others Made to accommodate 3D graphics programming, it has an interface to OpenGL, but it is also suitable for general GUI programming

Using its own widget, drawing and event systems though FLTK2 has gained experimental support for optionally using the cairo graphics library abstracted from the underlying system-dependent code, it allows for writing programs which look the same on all supported operating systems

FLTK is free and open-source software, licensed under GNU Lesser General Public License LGPL with an added clause permitting static linking from applications with incompatible licenses

In contrast to user interface libraries like GTK+, Qt, and wxWidgets, FLTK uses a more lightweight design and restricts itself to GUI functionality Because of this, the library is very small the FLTK "Hello World" program is around 100 KiB, and is usually statically linked It also avoids complex macros, separate code preprocessors, and use of some advanced C++ features: templates, exceptions, and run-time type information RTTI or, for FLTK 1x, namespaces Combined with the modest size of the package, this makes it relatively easy to learn for new users4

These advantages come with corresponding disadvantages FLTK offers fewer widgets than most GUI toolkits and, because of its use of non-native widgets, does not have native look-and-feel on any platform


  • 1 Meaning of the name
  • 2 Architecture
    • 21 Language bindings
    • 22 GUI designers
  • 3 Use
  • 4 Versions
    • 41 10x
    • 42 11x
    • 43 20 branch
    • 44 12x
    • 45 13x
    • 46 14x
    • 47 30 branch
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Meaning of the nameedit

FLTK was originally designed to be compatible with the Forms Library written for Silicon Graphics SGI machines a derivative of this library called XForms is still used quite often In that library, all functions and structures start with fl_ This naming was extended to all new methods and widgets in the C++ library, and this prefix FL was taken as the name of the library After FL was released as open source, it was discovered that searching "FL" on the Internet was a problem, because it is also the abbreviation for Florida After much debating and searching for a new name for the toolkit, which was already in use by several people, Bill Spitzak came up with Fast Light Tool Kit FLTK5


FLTK is an object-oriented widget toolkit written in the programming language C++ While GTK+ is mainly for the X Window System, FLTK works on other platforms, including Microsoft Windows interfaced with the Windows API, and OS X interfaced with Quartz HTML5 and Wayland back-ends are in developmentcitation needed

Language bindingsedit

A library written in one programming language may be used in another language if language bindings are written FLTK has a range of bindings for various languages6

FLTK was mainly designed for, and is written in, the programming language C++ However, bindings exist for other languages, for example Lua,7 Perl,8 Python,9 Ruby10 and Tcl11

For FLTK 1x, this example creates a window with an Okay button:

#include <FL/FlH> #include <FL/Fl_WindowH> #include <FL/Fl_ButtonH> int mainint argc, char argv

GUI designersedit

FLTK includes Fast Light User Interface Designer FLUID, a graphical GUI designer that generates C++ source and header files


See also: Category:Software that uses FLTK

Many programs and projects use FLTK, including:

  • Agenda VR3 Linux-based personal digital assistant's software was based on FLTK, as was much of the software developed for it by third parties
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent, by Frictional Games uses FLTK as its launcher application
  • Audio:
    • Fldigi, amateur radio software, allows data transmission and text chat via digital modes such as PSK31
    • Giada, looper, micro-sequencer, sample player software, open-source12
    • Prodatum, synthesizer preset editor, uses a lifelike interface design13
    • ZynAddSubFX, an open-source software synthesizer
  • DiSTI GL Studio, human-machine interface development tool14
  • Engineering:
    • ForcePAD, an intuitive tool to visualise the behavior of structures subject to loading and boundary conditions15
    • Gmsh, an open-source finite element mesh generator
    • RoboCIM, software to simulate and control operation of a servo robot system and external devices16
  • Equinox Desktop Environment EDE
  • FlBurn optical disc burning software for Linux17
  • Graphics:
    • Avimator, a Biovision Hierarchy BVH editor
    • CinePaint, deep-paint software, migrating from GTK+ to FLTK, open-source
    • ITK-SNAP, software application for medical image segmentation, open-source
    • Nuke, a digital compositing program Until version 5, now replaced by Qt
    • Open Movie Editor18
    • OpenVSP, NASA parametric aircraft sketching, recently open-sourced19
    • PosteRazor, open-source poster printing software for Windows, OS X, Linux20
  • SmallBASIC, Windows port
  • TorAppInfo, online security printing platform, a google native client21
  • Web browsers:
    • Dillo, Dillo-2 was based on FLTK-2, abandoning this FLTK branch, with no official release, was a major cause of Dillo-3 being started, using FLTK13
    • Fifth, replicates functioning of early Opera22
    • NetRider23
  • X window managers:
    • FLWM
    • miwm


This version history is an example of the sometimes tumultuous nature of open source development24


This is a prior stable version, now unmaintained


This is a prior stable version, now unmaintained

20 branchedit

This was a development branch, long thought to be the next step in FLTK's evolution, with many new features and a cleaner programming style It never achieved stability, and development has largely ceased The branch is inactive now


This was an attempt to take some of the best features of 20 and merge them back into the more popular 11 branch It is no longer developed


Current stable development branch Provides UTF-8 support


Adds more features to 13 Now inactive

30 branchedit

This branch is mostly a conceptual model for future work Now inactive

See alsoedit

  • Free software portal
  • GTK+
  • gtkmm C++ binding of GTK+
  • FOX toolkit
  • IUP software - a multi-platform toolkit to build native graphical user interfaces
  • Juce
  • Qt software
  • Visual Component Framework VCF
  • Widget toolkit
  • wxWidgets - cross platform open source C++ widgets toolkit developed by community
  • Ultimate++
  • List of widget toolkits


  1. ^ http://wwwfltkorg/articlesphpL1392
  2. ^ "FLTK License Agreement" 
  3. ^ "FLTK home" 
  4. ^ http://wwwcpplibscom/libraries/fltk/
  5. ^ http://wwwfltkorg/articlesphpL363+I0+TFAQ+P1+Q
  6. ^ "GTK+ Language Bindings" 
  7. ^ "murgaLua homepage" 
  8. ^ http://wwwfltkorg/wikiphpLC+P139+TC+Q
  9. ^ "pyFLTK homepage" 
  10. ^ "Ruby/FLTK homepage" 
  11. ^ "Tcl/Fltk homepage" 
  12. ^ Giada, hardcore loopmachine
  13. ^ Prodatum
  14. ^ DiSTI GL Studio
  15. ^ ForcePAD
  16. ^ RoboCIM - Robotics software
  17. ^ FlBurn
  18. ^ Open Movie Editor
  19. ^ OpenVSP
  20. ^ PosteRazor
  21. ^ TorAppInfo online security printing platform
  22. ^ Fifth browser
  23. ^ NetRider
  24. ^ "What are the Versions of FLTK" Retrieved 2010-07-23 

External linksedit

  • Official website
  • Beginner FLTK Tutorial
  • FLTK 130 Tutorial
  • Erco's FLTK Cheat Page

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