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Installing Shapes

Shapes is written to be as platform independent as possible, but the system is developed on Macintosh and Linux and has not been tested under Windows. As a concequence, the instructions given here might need to be adjusted in order to get Shapes running in Windows.
This install guide will guide you obtaining shapes, making sure all dependencies are available, and finally compile and install the program.
Sections:    Download the source    Dependencies    Building and installing    Help develop Shapes

Download the source

The source code can be downloaded from the Shapes project area at SourceForge. The source is available in files named shapes-w-x-y-z.tar.gz, where a change in z is a pure bug fix without new functionality, a change in y should be only backwards compatible feature fixes, and x is used to indicate backwards incompatible changes. The w will remain at 0 as long as the are plans for substantial changes to the core language.


In order to build the Shapes compiler from the downloaded source, the following software need to be installed on your system:


These libraries need to be present on your computer in order to install Shapes:

Recommended (optional)

A working LaTeX installation is optional, but to produce labels with beautifully formatted math you need it. Other libraries enable Shapes to deal with raster image files and font files. To test whether a Shapes compiler has been built with a particular optional library, one can use the --version command line option, and check the list of build options.

Building and installing

Assuming the downloaded file was called shapes-x-y-z.tar.gz, the standard procedure below contains the necessary steps.
tar zxf shapes-x-y-z.tar.gz
cd shapes-x-y-z
make check
sudo make install
You may omit the “make check” part if you like, but it won't save you much time. Also, the “sudo” word at the beginning of the last line may not be appropriate for your system, or not required if the installation was configured to install somewhere where your user has permission to write files.
To see for yourself that the program is installed, run
shapes --version
and shapes should reply with just installed version of Shapes. You can also try to view the online help:
man shapes

Help develop Shapes

To help out develop Shapes some more packages are needed, depending on which part of Shapes you are interested in, you need different tools as outlined below. Any and all improvements are very welcome and should be sent by e-mail to
First you should get a hold of the very latest version of the Shapes soure. To do this you need to use git.
With git installed, Shapes can be cloned from git://
To further compile the obtained source, the GNU Autoconf-Automake-Libtool toolchain is needed in combination with Flex and Bison.
To run the Shapes test suit, convert from ImageMagick is needed to compare the generated images.
Saxon is used to transform the documentation from the xml format it is written in to man-pages and html. In this process ImageMagick is used too.
To check the documentation before making it available online, it is recommended to use LinkChecker. The use of such a tool is optional (but recommended) unless you are a project maintainer.
With the required tools installed, the following example shows how to build the branch next in the main repository (note the autoreconf step, which produces the configure script).
git clone git:// shapes
cd shapes
git co -b next origin/next
autoreconf -ivfs
make check
sudo make install
Additional documents detailing the development and maintenance of the project are located in the doc/procedures directory of the repository.
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