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Compiling plugins from source code

Compiling the plugin tree involves following a few simple steps:

Libraries required by plugins

Before you can successfully build plugins, several other things must be compiled and installed. At a bare minimum, a normal plugin build requires Tcl to be compiled and linkable from within the directories referenced by the TCLINC and TCLLIB environment variables. Without these libraries and their associated header files, compilation of the plugin source code will fail.

If you wish to build the plugins for AMBER, and MMTK NetCDF trajectories, then the NETCDFLIB and NETCDFINC environment variables must be set. In order to link the static plugins with VMD, CatDCD or other software packages, you'll need to remember to add the NetCDF library to the linkage flags for the executable being build. In the case of CatDCD this is done automatically by the Make-arch script. For VMD, you will need to enable the "NETCDF" configure option. For other packages, you'll want to add the same NETCDFLDFLAGS macro used in Make-arch to your link flags.

The Lattice Microbes plugin depends on the HDF5 I/O libraries. As described above for NetCDF, one must correctly set HDFINC and HDFLIB environment variables with the correct compiler include and link path flags. Additionally, since HDF5 is implemented as a set of libraries rather than one, they need to be listed in a third HDFLDFLAGS environment variable.

The DMS plugin by D.E. Shaw Research depends on the sqlite library, and will be compiled when SQLITELIB, SQLITEINC, and SQLITELDFLAGS are set, as described above for HDF5.

Compiling the plugin source tree

What follows is a simple example of how we compile one of the plugin architectures on our local machines here at UIUC. Note that you must use GNU make to compile the VMD plugin tree as we use various Makefile features that are not provided by some Unix vendor implementations of Make:

## MacOS X 10.2 framework paths used at UIUC
setenv TCLINC -I/Projects/vmd/vmd/lib/tcl/include
setenv TCLLIB -F/Projects/vmd/vmd/lib/tcl

cd /to/your/work/area/plugins/

Customizing builds and concurrent compilation on multiple machines

If one wants to compile the plugin tree on multiple target platforms concurrently, or customize the build script for ease of repeated compilations, a shell script named build.csh is provided which is invoked by the 'make world' build target. The build script recognizes machines by their hostname, and sets the TCLINC and TCLLIB environment variables appropriately, and runs the necessary build commands to build on as many target machines as is desired at the site. The VMD development team uses this script to automate compilation on all of the standard supported target platforms. You can edit build.csh by changing the switch statement to recognize your local build machine or by replacing the settings in the "default" switch statement target with your own.

Making a plugin distribution directory

Once the plugin tree has been succesfully compiled, the next step is to build a distribution directory. This step populates a target directory with all of the compiled plugin binaries, as well as the platform-independent plugin scripts, documentation and other data files used by the installed plugins. This step is the final step required before one can succesfully build VMD itself from source code, as VMD uses the plugin distribution directory as the source for vmdplugin.h and other source files, as well as statically-linked plugin libraries.

Before you run the 'make install' command, you must first set the PLUGINDIR environment variable to the name of your distribution target directory, using the appropriate shell command. Here's a simple example:

cd /to/your/work/area/plugins/
setenv PLUGINDIR /final/desitation/directory/for/compiled/plugins
gmake distrib

Assuming that everying goes as it should, the 'make distrib' command will copy all of the required plugin binaries, support files, and documentation to the target directory specified by the PLUGINDIR environment variable. Once this is done, you can proceed with compiling VMD, or using the final target directory to update your local installation of VMD's dynamically loaded plugins.

plg_compiling.dox,v 1.8 2021/12/02 05:53:46 johns Exp

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