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@page vulkan_guide Vulkan guide
This guide is intended to fill the gaps between the [Vulkan
documentation]( and the rest of the GLFW
documentation and is not a replacement for either. It assumes some familiarity
with Vulkan concepts like loaders, devices, queues and surfaces and leaves it to
the Vulkan documentation to explain the details of Vulkan functions.
To develop for Vulkan you should download the [LunarG Vulkan
SDK]( for your platform. Apart from headers and link
libraries, they also provide the validation layers necessary for development.
For details on a specific function in this category, see the @ref vulkan. There
are also guides for the other areas of the GLFW API.
- @ref intro_guide
- @ref window_guide
- @ref context_guide
- @ref monitor_guide
- @ref input_guide
@section vulkan_loader Linking against the Vulkan loader
By default, GLFW will look for the Vulkan loader on demand at runtime via its
standard name (`vulkan-1.dll` on Windows, `` on Linux and other
Unix-like systems and `libvulkan.1.dylib` on macOS). This means that GLFW does
not need to be linked against the loader. However, it also means that if you
are using the static library form of the Vulkan loader GLFW will either fail to
find it or (worse) use the wrong one.
The @ref GLFW_VULKAN_STATIC CMake option makes GLFW call the Vulkan loader
directly instead of dynamically loading it at runtime. Not linking against the
Vulkan loader will then be a compile-time error.
@macos Because the Vulkan loader and ICD are not installed globally on macOS,
you need to set up the application bundle according to the LunarG SDK
documentation. This is explained in more detail in the
[SDK documentation for macOS](
@section vulkan_include Including the Vulkan and GLFW header files
To include the Vulkan header, define @ref GLFW_INCLUDE_VULKAN before including
the GLFW header.
#include <GLFW/glfw3.h>
If you instead want to include the Vulkan header from a custom location or use
your own custom Vulkan header then do this before the GLFW header.
#include <path/to/vulkan.h>
#include <GLFW/glfw3.h>
Unless a Vulkan header is included, either by the GLFW header or above it, any
GLFW functions that take or return Vulkan types will not be declared.
The `VK_USE_PLATFORM_*_KHR` macros do not need to be defined for the Vulkan part
of GLFW to work. Define them only if you are using these extensions directly.
@section vulkan_support Querying for Vulkan support
If you are linking directly against the Vulkan loader then you can skip this
section. The canonical desktop loader library exports all Vulkan core and
Khronos extension functions, allowing them to be called directly.
If you are loading the Vulkan loader dynamically instead of linking directly
against it, you can check for the availability of a loader and ICD with @ref
if (glfwVulkanSupported())
// Vulkan is available, at least for compute
This function returns `GLFW_TRUE` if the Vulkan loader and any minimally
functional ICD was found.
If if one or both were not found, calling any other Vulkan related GLFW function
will generate a @ref GLFW_API_UNAVAILABLE error.
@subsection vulkan_proc Querying Vulkan function pointers
To load any Vulkan core or extension function from the found loader, call @ref
glfwGetInstanceProcAddress. To load functions needed for instance creation,
pass `NULL` as the instance.
PFN_vkCreateInstance pfnCreateInstance = (PFN_vkCreateInstance)
glfwGetInstanceProcAddress(NULL, "vkCreateInstance");
Once you have created an instance, you can load from it all other Vulkan core
functions and functions from any instance extensions you enabled.
PFN_vkCreateDevice pfnCreateDevice = (PFN_vkCreateDevice)
glfwGetInstanceProcAddress(instance, "vkCreateDevice");
This function in turn calls `vkGetInstanceProcAddr`. If that fails, the
function falls back to a platform-specific query of the Vulkan loader (i.e.
`dlsym` or `GetProcAddress`). If that also fails, the function returns `NULL`.
For more information about `vkGetInstanceProcAddr`, see the Vulkan
Vulkan also provides `vkGetDeviceProcAddr` for loading device-specific versions
of Vulkan function. This function can be retrieved from an instance with @ref
PFN_vkGetDeviceProcAddr pfnGetDeviceProcAddr = (PFN_vkGetDeviceProcAddr)
glfwGetInstanceProcAddress(instance, "vkGetDeviceProcAddr");
Device-specific functions may execute a little bit faster, due to not having to
dispatch internally based on the device passed to them. For more information
about `vkGetDeviceProcAddr`, see the Vulkan documentation.
@section vulkan_ext Querying required Vulkan extensions
To do anything useful with Vulkan you need to create an instance. If you want
to use Vulkan to render to a window, you must enable the instance extensions
GLFW requires to create Vulkan surfaces.
To query the instance extensions required, call @ref
uint32_t count;
const char** extensions = glfwGetRequiredInstanceExtensions(&count);
These extensions must all be enabled when creating instances that are going to
be passed to @ref glfwGetPhysicalDevicePresentationSupport and @ref
glfwCreateWindowSurface. The set of extensions will vary depending on platform
and may also vary depending on graphics drivers and other factors.
If it fails it will return `NULL` and GLFW will not be able to create Vulkan
window surfaces. You can still use Vulkan for off-screen rendering and compute
If successful the returned array will always include `VK_KHR_surface`, so if
you don't require any additional extensions you can pass this list directly to
the `VkInstanceCreateInfo` struct.
VkInstanceCreateInfo ici;
memset(&ici, 0, sizeof(ici));
ici.enabledExtensionCount = count;
ici.ppEnabledExtensionNames = extensions;
Additional extensions may be required by future versions of GLFW. You should
check whether any extensions you wish to enable are already in the returned
array, as it is an error to specify an extension more than once in the
`VkInstanceCreateInfo` struct.
@section vulkan_present Querying for Vulkan presentation support
Not every queue family of every Vulkan device can present images to surfaces.
To check whether a specific queue family of a physical device supports image
presentation without first having to create a window and surface, call @ref
if (glfwGetPhysicalDevicePresentationSupport(instance, physical_device, queue_family_index))
// Queue family supports image presentation
The `VK_KHR_surface` extension additionally provides the
`vkGetPhysicalDeviceSurfaceSupportKHR` function, which performs the same test on
an existing Vulkan surface.
@section vulkan_window Creating the window
Unless you will be using OpenGL or OpenGL ES with the same window as Vulkan,
there is no need to create a context. You can disable context creation with the
GLFWwindow* window = glfwCreateWindow(640, 480, "Window Title", NULL, NULL);
See @ref context_less for more information.
@section vulkan_surface Creating a Vulkan window surface
You can create a Vulkan surface (as defined by the `VK_KHR_surface` extension)
for a GLFW window with @ref glfwCreateWindowSurface.
VkSurfaceKHR surface;
VkResult err = glfwCreateWindowSurface(instance, window, NULL, &surface);
if (err)
// Window surface creation failed
If an OpenGL or OpenGL ES context was created on the window, the context has
ownership of the presentation on the window and a Vulkan surface cannot be
It is your responsibility to destroy the surface. GLFW does not destroy it for
you. Call `vkDestroySurfaceKHR` function from the same extension to destroy it.