Abstraction layer on top of GLFW.jl - make GLFW more Julian!
Author VoxelPopuliEngine
7 Stars
Updated Last
1 Year Ago
Started In
May 2021


Abstraction layer for GLFW.jl.

Call to Action: I'd gladly appreciate some help with the documentation. :) There's only so much you can do with markdown. A proper website would help readability and maneuverability of the documentation a lot, but as a sole developer working on a couple very ambitious projects, time is a scarce luxury.


GLFWAbstraction is designed to provide a more Julia-native and partly functional experience to working with the GLFW library.


Not every component of the GLFW library is abstracted here. Two reasons for this exist: A) GLFW.jl does not expose the feature itself; B) time pressure.

Following are the GLFW components which have received abstractions:

  • Windows
  • Monitors
  • Input
    • Keyboard Input
    • Mouse Input

These abstractions are not implemented for given reasons:

  • Joystick/Gamepad abstraction - GLFW.jl is not up-to-date.
  • Input:
    • Custom Cursor Images - GLFW.jl is not up-to-date.
    • Time & clipboard input - GLFW.jl intentionally does not expose these as there is standard Julia functionality.
    • Path dropping - lack of time.
  • Vulkan - lack of time.

Table of Contents


This preliminary documentation shall provide every information necessary to work with GLFWAbstraction.jl.


Monitors revolve around the Monitor struct retrieved from the monitor function.

Use monitor(window::Window) to retrieve the monitor associated with a fullscreen window. If none (i.e. the window is not in fullscreen mode), returns nothing. Use monitor(n::Integer) to retrieve the n-th connected monitor. Usually, you will simply call monitor(1) to assign a window to the primary monitor. A convenient monitor(::Nothing) = nothing exists if needed.

Another abstraction exists through the Monitors meta type. Note the plural s. This meta type allows querying information on the collective of connected monitors.

Use length(Monitors) to retrieve the total number of connected monitors. You may also use Monitors[index] in place of monitor(index). You may also collect(Monitors) to retrieve a vector of all currently connected monitors, or iterate(Monitors) which allows usage with a regular for loop:

for monitor in Monitors
    # do something

Video Modes

Monitors are associated with one or more VideoModes. The current video mode of the monitor - either the default desktop video mode or the video mode of its current fullscreen application - can be retrieved through videomode(monitor). All of its supported video modes can be queried through videomodes(monitor), respectively.

While the VideoMode contains the same information as GLFW.VidMode, it arranges it slightly differently:

struct VideoMode
    bits::NamedTuple{(:red, :green, :blue), Tuple{UInt8, UInt8, UInt8}}

See section Borderless Fullscreen Mode below to learn how to use this struct.


The centerpiece of GLFW is arguably the windowing system. GLFWAbstraction tries to simplify it as much as possible. Various GLFW constants were wrapped in their own enums. Updating & retrieving window attributes is accomplished through virtual properties. Events are delegated through Julia's native multiple dispatch.

Window Creation

Window{ID}s are created through the window factory. Every Window is decorated with an arbitrary IDentifier. These are used to hook into the multiple dispatch based event system. A window can be created as such:

window(id::Symbol, title::AbstractString, width::Integer, height::Integer, [monitor::Monitor], [share::Window])

If monitor === nothing, the window will be created in windowed mode. Otherwise, it will be created in fullscreen on the specified window. share may be provided if multiple windows need to share the same OpenGL context. One such use case is spanning multiple monitors in fullscreen with two distinct windows.

The title will be displayed in the window's title bar - given it uses border decorations. width and height describe the desired window's drawing size - although the size of the window need not necessarily match the framebuffer's size.

id is passed to the Window{id} such that it may be used to uniquely identify your window in the event system described below.

Entering & Leaving Fullscreen Mode

Entering and leaving fullscreen mode is as easy as setting the window's monitor to either a concrete instance or nothing respectively:

monitor(window, monitor::Monitor, refresh_rate::Integer = 0)
monitor(window, ::Nothing)

When refresh_rate is set to non-positive, it is synonymous for GLFW.DONT_CARE.

Borderless Fullscreen Mode

Borderless Fullscreen Mode is a special variant of fullscreen mode where the video mode of the window in fullscreen mode matches that of the monitor's video mode in desktop mode. Note that, if another application is already in fullscreen on the queried monitor, its video mode will be retrieved. Currently, there is no way to retrieve the desktop video mode directly from the OS through GLFW.

let monitor = Monitor(1), vidmode = videomode(monitor)
    @windowhint redBits
    @windowhint greenBits
    @windowhint blueBits
    @windowhint refreshRate vidmode.refresh_rate
    wnd = window(:id, "Borderless Fullscreen Window", vidmode.width, vidmode.height, Monitor(1))

Unfortunately, window hints are still relatively low-level, lending the syntax almost directly from GLFW.

Window Attributes

GLFW exposes countless window attributes - some related to the window itself, others to its underlying OpenGL context. To the best of my knowledge, all window attributes have received virtual getters and setters for convenient use. Example:

let wnd = window(...)
  wnd.decorated = false
  wnd.opacity = 0.5
  if wnd.hovered
    println("mouse cursor is currently above window")

Attributes with both getters & setters include:

Virtual Property Get Set
auto_iconify window attribute window attribute
decorated window attribute window attribute
floating window attribute window attribute
focus_on_show window attribute window attribute
opacity window attribute window attribute
position (unnamed) 2-tuple of GLFW.GetWindowPos() (unnamed) 2-tuple to GLFW.SetWindowPos()
resizable window attribute window attribute
shouldclose GLFW.WindowShouldClose() GLFW.SetWindowShouldClose()
visible window attribute GLFW.ShowWindow() and GLFW.HideWindow()

Attributes with only setters include:

Virtual Property Set
aspect_ratio GLFW.SetWindowAspectRatio() - see details below
icon GLFW.SetWindowIcon() - see details below
title GLFW.SetWindowTitle()

Attributes with only getters include:

Virtual Property Get
content_scale (unnamed) 2-tuple of GLFW.GetWindowContentScale()
focused window attribute
framebuffer_size (unnamed) 2-tuple of GLFW.GetFramebufferSize()
hovered window attribute
iconified window attribute
maximized window attribute
transparent window attribute GLFW.TRANSPARENT_FRAMEBUFFER

Context Attributes with only getters include:

Virtual Property Get
client_api ClientAPI (enum) from window attribute
context_creation_api ContextCreationAPI (enum) from window attribute
context_forward_compatible Bool from window attribute
context_debug Bool from window attribute
context_profile OpenGLProfile (enum) from window attribute
context_release_behavior ContextReleaseBehavior (enum) from window attribute
context_generates_errors Bool from window attribute GLFW.CONTEXT_NO_ERROR
context_robustness ContextRobustness (enum) from window attribute

Aspect Ratio

The wnd.aspect_ratio attribute has received special treatment. For convenient and semantic use, it can be written as such:

let wnd = window(...)
  wnd.aspect_ratio = 16//9   # |-These are equivalent
  wnd.aspect_ratio = (16, 9) # |
  wnd.aspect_ratio = nothing # Clear aspect ratio

When set, the windowing system will enforce the given aspect ratio upon attempting to resize it. The exact behavior is a platform-dependent implementation detail.

Window Icon

GLFW.jl already simplifies setting the application's icon. All that is needed is to pass in either a single 2-by-2 Matrix of pixels resembling the icon data, or a Vector of such images for animated icons.


Window Creation Hints

Unfortunately, window creation hints are intertwined with the above Window Attributes and difficult to simplify. As of the time of writing, the best solution I've come up with is the @windowhint macro, which is comparatively low-level and follows this syntax:

@windowhint <attribute> <value>

Where attribute directly corresponds to the GLFW constants in camel-case, e.g. TransparentFramebuffer - although one may also choose to simply use TRANSPARENT_FRAMEBUFFER. value may then be any valid value - usually an integer. Enums are converted to their integer values and nothing is synonymous for GLFW.DONT_CARE.

Window Manipulation Functions

Few manipulation functions for windows are exposed:

Function Purpose
maximize(wnd) Maximize the window.
restore(wnd) Restore a window from either maximized or iconified/minimized state.
limitsize(wnd; min_width, min_height, max_width, max_height) Adjust window's minimum and maximum dimensions. All components are optional. When non-positive, the respective limit is removed.
swapbuffers(wnd) Swap front & back buffers.
request_attention(wnd) Request the users attention. The exact behavior is dependent on the underlying platform. On windows, this will cause the window's icon in the taskbar to blink.


Events have shifted from callbacks to a Julia-native multiple dispatch based solution. This is where the ID in Window{ID} comes into play. Following are the signatures for all currently available event handlers:

  • on_framebuffer_resize(::Window{ID}, width::Integer, height::Integer)
  • on_window_close(::Window{ID})
  • on_window_content_scale(::Window{ID}, scalex::AbstractFloat, scaley::AbstractFloat)
  • on_window_defocus(::Window{ID})
  • on_window_focus(::Window{ID})
  • on_window_iconify(::Window{ID})
  • on_window_maximize(::Window{ID})
  • on_window_move(::Window{ID}, posx::Integer, posy::Integer)
  • on_window_refresh(::Window{ID})
  • on_window_resize(::Window{ID}, sizex::Integer, sizey::Integer)
  • on_window_restore(::Window{ID})


Few global input functions exist:

Function Purpose
pollevents() Poll events & trigger corresponding handlers.
waitevents([timeout]) Wait for any event & trigger corresponding handlers. If timeout is supplied, wait at most for timeout seconds.
post_empty_event() Post an empty event to the event queue, waking up any Task or Thread waiting on events.

Modifier Keys

Both keyboard & mouse events can come with ModifierKeys that were active at the moment the key or mouse button was pressed or released. The pseudo-enum is built using BitFlags.jl which has various benefits over regular enums. The following modifier keys exist:

  • NoMod - no modifier key was held.
  • ShiftMod
  • ControlMod
  • AltMod
  • SuperMod
  • CapsLockMod
  • NumLockMod

Note that caps lock and num lock may not be usable yet as GLFW.jl is not up-to-date.

Test for specific modifier keys like such:

function foo(modifiers::ModifierKey)
  if (modifier & ShiftMod) != NoMod
    # do something

Keyboard Input

Keyboard input has been simplified through a more humanized Key wrapper and dynamic dispatch-style events. The Key wrapper provides both more human & programmatic access to all GLFW.KEY_* constants. Its signatures like as thus:

Key(digit::Integer, numpad::Bool = false)

The digit overload retrieves Keys GLFW.KEY_0 through GLFW.KEY_9. It throws an ArgumentError if digit ∉ 0:9. If numpad is true, returns the corresponding GLFW.KEY_KP_* instead.

The char overload retrieves any key on a standard US QWERTY keyboard which produces a character. As with the digit overload, it throws an ArgumentError if the character is invalid. Note that, unfortunately, other languages are not supported by the underlying GLFW library itself.

The special overload retrieves any key on a standard US QWERTY keyboard which does not produce a character, such as the escape, print screen, arrow keys, or enter key. Following is a full list of supported special characters:

  • Arrow keys (:up, :down, :left, :right)
  • F keys (:f1, :f2, ..., :f25)
  • Left/Right shift, control, alt, super, prefixed with :left_/:l/:right_/:r respectively
  • Numpad keys: :add, :decimal, :divide, :keypad_enter, :keypad_equal, :multiply, :subtract
  • :capslock, :end, :enter, :escape/:esc, :home, :menu, :numlock, :pagedown, :pageup, :pause, :print/:printscreen, :scrolllock, :space, :world1, :world2


The following key input related events exist. One hooks into these by specializing on ID in ::Window{ID}, as passed to window(:ID, ...).

Event Trigger
on_key_press(::Window, ::Key, scancode::Integer, ::ModifierKey) Triggered when a key is pressed down.
on_key_release(::Window, ::Key, scancode::Integer, ::ModifierKey) Triggered when a key is released.
on_key_repeat(::Window, ::Key, scancode::Integer, ::ModifierKey) Triggered when a key is held down and trigger's the OS' repeat.
on_receive_char(::Window, ::Char) Triggered when a key stroke produces a unicode character.

Mouse Input

Akin to Keyboard Input above, mouse input is abstracted through three main interfaces: MouseButton, the Mouse meta type, and dynamic dispatch-style events. The MouseButton struct has the following signatures:


The underlying GLFW library only supports mouse buttons 1:8. Any number beyond this range throws an ArgumentError.

The three default named mouse buttons are :left, :right, and :middle, representing mouse buttons 1, 2, and 3 respectively. One may introduce new names for convenience by defining:

MouseButton(::Ident{:new_button}) = MouseButton(4)

where :new_button is to be replaced with your desired name.

Mouse Interface

One may poll the state of the mouse at any point by constructing a Mouse(window) instance. It exposes two virtual properties and two traits functions. Its properties are:

Virtual Property Get Set
position (unnamed) 2-tuple of GLFW.GetCursorPos() GLFW.SetCursorPos(wnd, values[1], values[2])
mode GLFW.GetInputMode(wnd, GLFW.CURSOR) GLFW.SetInputMode(wnd, GLFW.Cursor, Integer(value))

Note that mode should be assigned a value from the CursorMode enum, which exposes values CursorDisabled, CursorHidden, and CursorNormal. Both hidden and disabled modes show no cursor image. Difference being disabled prompts GLFW to recenter the cursor on the window whereas hidden allows it to leave the window. One would thus, for example, use disabled to control a 3D camera.

The two global functions are concerned with testing isbuttondown and isbuttonup on a Mouse(window). Their signatures are as follows:

isbuttondown(mouse::Mouse, button::MouseButton)::InputAction
isbuttonup(  mouse::Mouse, button::MouseButton)::InputAction

The InputAction is an enum with values Press, Release, and Repeat; although Repeat will never be emitted for mouse buttons.


As with keyboard input, various mouse events are triggered:

Event Signature Trigger
on_mouse_move(::Window, xpos, ypos) Triggered when the mouse is moved while within the confines of the window.
on_mouse_enter(::Window) Triggered when the mouse enters the window area.
on_mouse_leave(::Window) Triggered when the mouse leaves the window area.
on_mouse_press(::Window, ::MouseButton, ::ModifierKey) Triggered when a mouse button is pressed down.
on_mouse_release(::Window, ::MouseButton, ::ModifierKey) Triggered when a mouse button is released.

As with any event, one would hook into these by implementing a specialization on ID in Window{ID} as provided in the call to window(:ID, ...).

Used By Packages

No packages found.