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Use Generated Code

Java / JNI / C++ Project

Includes & Build target

The following headers / code will be generated for each defined type:

Type C++ header C++ source Java JNI header JNI source
Enum/Flags my_enum.hpp NativeMyEnum.hpp NativeMyEnum.cpp
my_enum+json.hpp 2⃣
Record my_record[_base].hpp my_record[_base].cpp 1⃣ MyRecord[Base].java NativeMyRecord.hpp NativeMyRecord.cpp
Interface my_interface.hpp my_interface.cpp 1⃣ NativeMyInterface.hpp NativeMyInterface.cpp
  • 1⃣ Generated only for types that contain constants.
  • 2⃣ Generated only if cpp json serialization is enabled.

Additionally djinni_jni_main.cpp is generated to provide a default implementation for JNI_OnLoad and JNI_OnUnload, if --jni-generate-main=true.

Add all generated source files to your build target, and link the C++ code against the djinni-support-lib.

Our JNI approach

JNI stands for Java Native Interface, an extension of the Java language to allow interop with native (C/C++) code or libraries.

For each type, built-in (list, string, etc.) or user-defined, Djinni produces a translator class with a toJava and fromJava function to translate back and forth.

Application code is responsible for the initial load of the JNI library. Add a static block somewhere in your code:

class Main {
    static {
      // The name  of the library is specified in / build.gradle / Makefile / CMakeLists.txt, 
      // depending on your build system.

If you package your native library in a jar, you can also use the NativeLibLoader to help unpack and load your lib(s).

Any library loaded from Java should provide the functions JNI_OnLoad and JNI_OnUnload. They are called by JNI when the library is loaded/unloaded.

Djinni uses these functions to initialize & cleanup internal structures. The generated file djinni_jni_main.cpp includes a default implementation of JNI_Onload and JNI_OnUnload functions provided by the support library.

If you are building a library that does not use JNI except through Djinni, this default should work well for you. If want to provide your own implementation of JNI_Onload and JNI_OnUnload, the generation of djinni_jni_main.cpp can be disabled by setting --jni-generate-main=false.

Objective-C / C++ Project

Includes & Build Target

Generated files for Objective-C / C++ are as follows (assuming prefix is DB):

Type C++ header C++ source Objective-C files Objective-C++ files
Enum/Flags my_enum.hpp DBMyEnum.h
my_enum+json.hpp 3⃣
Record my_record[_base].hpp my_record[_base].cpp 1⃣ DBMyRecord[Base].h DBMyRecord[Base]+Private.h
my_record[_base]+json.hpp DBMyRecord[Base].mm 2⃣ DBMyRecord[Base]
Interface my_interface.hpp my_interface.cpp 1⃣ DBMyInterface.h DBMyInterface+Private.h
  • 1⃣ Generated only for types that contain constants.
  • 2⃣ Generated only for types with derived operations and/or constants. These have .mm extensions to allow non-trivial constants.
  • 3⃣ Generated only if cpp json serialization is enabled.

Add all generated files to your build target, and link against the djinni-support-lib.

Note that +Private files can only be used with ObjC++ source (other headers are pure ObjC) and are not required by Objective-C users of your interface.

Python / C++ Project (Experimental)

Python support in Djinni is experimental, but ready to try out. It can generate code for bridging C++ with Python 3.

For more information, you can check out the talk from CppCon 2015. Slides and video are available online.

Includes & Build Target

When bridging to Python, Djinni generates 4 types of output:

  • python Generated Python classes and proxies for interacting with C++ via CFFI.
  • cffi Python code run at build time to create a Python extension out of the C++ code.
  • cwrapper A C interface implemented in C++ to allowing Python to interact with C++ classes.
  • cpp The same C++ classes generated for all other Djinni languages.

Generated files for Python / C++ are as follows:

Type C++ header C++ source Python files CFFI C Wrapper
Enum/Flags my_enum.hpp dh__my_enum.cpp
my_enum+json.hpp 2⃣ dh__my_enum.h
Record my_record[_base].hpp my_record[_base].cpp 1⃣ my_record[_base].py dh__my_record.cpp
my_record[_base]+json.hpp dh__my_record.h
2⃣ dh__my_record.hpp
Interface my_interface.hpp my_interface.cpp 1⃣ cw__my_interface.cpp
  • 1⃣ Generated only for types that contain constants.
  • 2⃣ Generated only if cpp json serialization is enabled.

Additional C Wrapper files are generated for data structures; their names are encoded as:


See the in the table below a few examples:

Type C Wrapper
list<i32> dh__list_int32_t.{cpp,h,hpp}
set<string> dh__set_string.{cpp,h,hpp}
map<i32, set<string>> dh__map_int32_t_set_string.{cpp,h,hpp}

Add all generated C and C++ source files to your build target, and link it against the djinni-support-lib.

Compile the Python extension module (CFFI) by executing while providing all C Wrapper header files (.h) as arguments. The resulting shared library will enable Python to access your C++ library through the CFFI bridge.

Known limitations of the generator

  • External types defined in YAML are not yet supported.
  • Use of non-nullable pointers is not yet supported.

C++/CLI / C++ Project

C++/CLI is a technology by Microsoft that provides interoperability of C++ with Microsoft .NET languages such as C#. It is only supported on Windows.

Djinni generates a shallow C++/CLI wrapper around the C++ interfaces. Once compiled to a shared library, the resulting dll just needs to be added to your C# project as reference, and you can call your Djinni interfaces from C# like any other .NET library.

Includes & Build target

The following code will be generated for each defined type:

Type C++ header C++ source C++/CLI header/sources
Enum/Flags my_enum.hpp MyEnum.hpp, MyEnum.cpp
my_enum+json.hpp 2⃣
Record my_record.hpp my_record.cpp MyRecord.hpp, MyRecord.cpp
my_record+json.hpp 2⃣
Interface my_interface.hpp my_interface.cpp 1⃣ MyInterface.hpp, MyInterface.cpp
  • 1⃣ Generated only for types that contain constants.
  • 2⃣ Generated only if cpp json serialization is enabled.

Add all generated files to your build target, and link against the djinni-support-lib.

C++/CLI sources have to be compiled with MSVC and the /clr (Common Language Runtime Compilation) option.

C++ JSON Serialization support

Serialization from C++ types to/from JSON is supported. This feature is currently only enabled for nlohmann/json, and if enabled creates to_json/from_json methods for all djinni records and enums.

#include "my_record.hpp"
#include "my_record+json.hpp"
#include <iostream>
#include <nlohmann/json.hpp>

void foo(const my_record& record) {
  // convert record to json object
  nlohmann::json j = record;
  // dump serialized string
  std::cerr << j.dump(4);
  // create new instance of record from json object
  my_record cloned = j.get<my_record>();

Json support for the date data type

Since there are many ways of converting a date to and from json, a simple implementation is provided by default which stores the date as the number of milliseconds elapsed since 00:00:00 UTC on January 1, 1970.

This default can be deactivated by adding a -DDJINNI_CUSTOM_JSON_DATE compilation flag to your compiler; in this case, you can implement your own date json serializer which better matches your requirements.

One such solution using Howard Hinnant's date library could be implemented as follows:

#include <nlohmann/json.hpp>
#include <date/date.h>

namespace nlohmann {
    template <>
    struct adl_serializer<std::chrono::system_clock::time_point>
        static void to_json(json &j, const std::chrono::system_clock::time_point& tp) {
            j = date::format("%F %T %Z", tp);

        static void from_json(const json &j, std::chrono::system_clock::time_point& value) {
            if (j.is_null()) {
                auto dur = std::chrono::milliseconds(0);
                value = std::chrono::time_point<std::chrono::system_clock>(dur);
            } else {
                std::istringstream json_time{j.get<std::string>()};
                std::chrono::system_clock::time_point parsed_time{};
                // Time saved in UTC, so no need to extract time zone
                json_time >> date::parse("%F %T", value);

Last update: October 19, 2021