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Polyscope uses CMake to configure its build system.

Unix-like environments (macOS,Linux,WSL)

If you’re using CMake in a Unix-like environment, integrating Polyscope in to your codebase should be as simple as running

git clone --recurse-submodules
and adding


target_link_libraries(YOUR_TARGET polyscope)
to your CMakeLists.txt. If you place polyscope outside of your project’s source tree, you may need add_subdirectory("path/to/polyscope" "polyscope") to also set a library build directory.

See these repositories for some simple examples of using Polyscope with an existing codebase or library:

Building in Windows

If you are using Cygwin, WSL, or some other unix-emulation environment on Windows, just follow the Unix instructions above (though be wary that these tools often do not have good openGL and windowing support, which can be a problem at runtime for a graphical application like Polyscope).

Additionally, Polyscope builds out of the box on Visual Studio 2019 (earlier versions have not been tested). Simply run CMake (either with the GUI or terminal interface) on Polyscope’s CMakeLists.txt to generate Visual Studio project and solution files.

To integrate Polyscope with an existing Visual Studio project:

  • (if the project uses CMake): add Polyscope to your projects CMakeLists.txt as in the Unix instructions above
  • (otherwise): first generate the Polyscope project with its CMakeLists.txt, then manually add the polyscope project to your existing Visual Studio solution

Polyscope has been verified to compile in Visual Studio 2019 & 2017; older versions may work but have not been tested! Polyscope uses only C++11 language features, but does make advanced use of templates (for instance, SFINAE), with which some past version of MSVC have struggled. To test Polyscope on your machine, you can compile the demo app with examples/demo-app/CMakeLists.txt.


Polyscope packages all of its source code dependencies with the repository.

On Ubuntu and friends, you may want to apt-get install xorg-dev libglu1-mesa-dev freeglut3-dev mesa-common-dev to pull graphics and windowing related headers to build.


Unit test live in the /test/ directory, and cover most of the core functionality of Polyscope. Polyscope uses googletest, which will be downloaded automatically when you build the tests.

To build and run the tests, use:

cd test
mkdir build && cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug ..
make -j4 && ./bin/polyscope-test --gtest_catch_exceptions=0

Tests can be run using the mock openGL backend by setting the additional cmake variable -DPOLYSCOPE_BACKEND=MOCK_OPENGL above. This is especially useful for testing on headless machines which might not have openGL available.