Table of contents

For other information, see the Ghostscript overview.

WARNING: The API described in this document is subject to changes in future releases, possibly ones that are not backward compatible with what is described here.


What is the Ghostscript Interpreter API?

The Ghostscript interpreter can be built as a dynamic link library (DLL) on Microsoft Windows, as a shared object on the Linux, Unix and MacOS X platforms. With some changes, it could be built as a static library. This document describes the Application Programming Interface (API) for the Ghostscript interpreter library. This should not be confused with the Ghostscript library which provides a graphics library but not the interpreter.

This supercedes the old DLL interface.

To provide the interface described in the usage documentation, a smaller independent executable loads the DLL/shared object. This executable must provide all the interaction with the windowing system, including image windows and, if necessary, a text window.

The Ghostscript interpreter library's name and characteristics differ for each platform:

  • The Win32 DLL gsdll32.dll can be used by multiple programs simultaneously, but only once within each process.
  • The OS/2 DLL gsdll2.dll has MULTIPLE NONSHARED data segments and can be called by multiple programs simultaneously.
  • The Linux shared object libgs.so can be used by multiple programs simultaneously.

The source for the executable is in dw*.* (Windows), dp*.* (OS/2) and dx*.* (Linux/Unix). See these source files for examples of how to use the DLL.

The source file dxmainc.c can also serve as an example of how to use the shared library component on MacOS X, providing the same command-line tool it does on any linux, bsd or similar operating system.

At this stage, Ghostscript does not support multiple instances of the interpreter within a single process.


Exported functions

The functions exported by the DLL/shared object are described in the header file iapi.h and are summarised below. Omitted from the summary are the calling convention (e.g. __stdcall), details of return values and error handling.

gsapi_revision()

This function returns the revision numbers and strings of the Ghostscript interpreter library; you should call it before any other interpreter library functions to make sure that the correct version of the Ghostscript interpreter has been loaded.
typedef struct gsapi_revision_s {
    const char *product;
    const char *copyright;
    long revision;
    long revisiondate;
} gsapi_revision_t;
gsapi_revision_t r;

if (gsapi_revision(&r, sizeof(r)) == 0) {
    if (r.revision < 650)
       printf("Need at least Ghostscript 6.50");
}
else {
    printf("revision structure size is incorrect");
}

gsapi_new_instance()

Create a new instance of Ghostscript. This instance is passed to most other gsapi functions. The caller_handle is the default value that will be provided to callback functions. Unless Ghostscript has been compiled with the GS_THREADSAFE define, only one instance at a time is supported.

Historically, Ghostscript has only supported a single instance; any attempt to create more than one at a time would result in gsapi_new_instance returning an error. Experimental work has been done to lift this restriction; if Ghostscript is compiled with the GS_THREADSAFE define then multiple concurrent instances are permitted.

While the core Ghostscript devices are believed to be thread safe now, certain devices are known not to be (particularly the contrib devices). The makefiles currently make no attempt to exclude these from builds. If you enable GS_THREADSAFE then you should check to ensure that you do not rely on such devices (check for global variable use).

The first parameter, is a pointer to an opaque pointer ("void **"). The opaque pointer ("void *") must be initialised to NULL before the call to gsapi_new_instance(). See Example 1.

gsapi_delete_instance()

Destroy an instance of Ghostscript. Before you call this, Ghostscript must have finished. If Ghostscript has been initialised, you must call gsapi_exit before gsapi_delete_instance.

gsapi_set_stdio_with_handle()

Set the callback functions for stdio, together with the handle to use in the callback functions. The stdin callback function should return the number of characters read, 0 for EOF, or -1 for error. The stdout and stderr callback functions should return the number of characters written.

NOTE: These callbacks do not affect output device I/O when using "%stdout" as the output file. In that case, device output will still be directed to the process "stdout" file descriptor, not to the stdio callback.

gsapi_set_stdio()

Set the callback functions for stdio. The handle used in the callbacks will be taken from the value passed to gsapi_new_instance. Otherwise the behaviour of this function matches gsapi_set_stdio_with_handle.

gsapi_set_poll_with_handle()

Set the callback function for polling, together with the handle to pass to the callback function. This function will only be called if the Ghostscript interpreter was compiled with CHECK_INTERRUPTS as described in gpcheck.h.

The polling function should return zero if all is well, and return negative if it wants ghostscript to abort. This is often used for checking for a user cancel. This can also be used for handling window events or cooperative multitasking.

The polling function is called very frequently during interpretation and rendering so it must be fast. If the function is slow, then using a counter to return 0 immediately some number of times can be used to reduce the performance impact.

gsapi_set_poll()

Set the callback function for polling. The handle passed to the callback function will be taken from the handle passed to gsapi_new_instance. Otherwise the behaviour of this function matches gsapi_set_poll_with_handle.

gsapi_set_display_callback()

This call is deprecated; please use gsapi_register_callout to register a callout handler for the display device in preference. Set the callback structure for the display device. The handle passed in the callback functions is taken from the DisplayHandle parameter (or NULL if there is no such parameter). If the display device is used, this must be called after gsapi_new_instance() and before gsapi_init_with_args(). See gdevdsp.h for more details.

gsapi_register_callout()

This call registers a callout handler.

gsapi_deregister_callout()

This call deregisters a callout handler previously registered with gsapi_register_callout. All three arguments must match exactly for the callout handler to be deregistered.

gsapi_set_arg_encoding()

Set the encoding used for the interpretation of all subsequent args supplied via the gsapi interface on this instance. By default we expect args to be in encoding 0 (the 'local' encoding for this OS). On Windows this means "the currently selected codepage". On Linux this typically means utf8. This means that omitting to call this function will leave Ghostscript running exactly as it always has. Please note that use of the 'local' encoding is now deprecated and should be avoided in new code. This must be called after gsapi_new_instance() and before gsapi_init_with_args().

set_default_device_list()

Set the string containing the list of default device names, for example "display x11alpha x11 bbox". Allows the calling application to influence which device(s) gs will try, in order, in it's selection of the default device. This must be called after gsapi_new_instance() and before gsapi_init_with_args().

get_default_device_list()

Returns a pointer to the current default device string. This must be called after gsapi_new_instance() and before gsapi_init_with_args().

gsapi_init_with_args()

Initialise the interpreter. This calls gs_main_init_with_args() in imainarg.c. See below for return codes. The arguments are the same as the "C" main function: argv[0] is ignored and the user supplied arguments are argv[1] to argv[argc-1].

gsapi_run_*()

The gsapi_run_* functions are like gs_main_run_* except that the error_object is omitted. If these functions return <= -100, either quit or a fatal error has occured. You must call gsapi_exit() next. The only exception is gsapi_run_string_continue() which will return gs_error_NeedInput if all is well. See below for return codes.

The address passed in pexit_code will be used to return the exit code for the interpreter in case of a quit or fatal error. The user_errors argument is normally set to zero to indicate that errors should be handled through the normal mechanisms within the interpreted code. If set to a negative value, the functions will return an error code directly to the caller, bypassing the interpreted language. The interpreted language's error handler is bypassed, regardless of user_errors parameter, for the gs_error_interrupt generated when the polling callback returns a negative value. A positive user_errors is treated the same as zero.

There is a 64 KB length limit on any buffer submitted to a gsapi_run_* function for processing. If you have more than 65535 bytes of input then you must split it into smaller pieces and submit each in a separate gsapi_run_string_continue() call.

gsapi_exit()

Exit the interpreter. This must be called on shutdown if gsapi_init_with_args() has been called, and just before gsapi_delete_instance().

gsapi_set_param()

Set a parameter. Broadly, this is equivalent to setting a parameter using -d, -s or -p on the command line. This call cannot be made during a run_string operation.

Parameters in this context are not the same as 'arguments' as processed by gsapi_init_with_args, but often the same thing can be achieved. For example, with gsapi_init_with_args, we can pass "-r200" to change the resolution. Broadly the same thing can be achieved by using gsapi_set_param to set a parsed value of "<</HWResolution [ 200.0 200.0 ]>>".

Note, that internally, when we set a parameter, we perform an initgraphics operation. This means that using set_param other than at the start of a page is likely to give unexpected results.

Further, note that attempting to set a parameter that the device does not recognise will be silently ignored, and that parameter will not be found in subsequent gsapi_get_param calls.

The type argument dictates the kind of object that value points to:

typedef enum {
    gs_spt_invalid = -1,
    gs_spt_null    = 0,   /* void * is NULL */
    gs_spt_bool    = 1,   /* void * is a pointer to an int (0 false,
                           * non-zero true). */
    gs_spt_int     = 2,   /* void * is a pointer to an int */
    gs_spt_float   = 3,   /* void * is a float * */
    gs_spt_name    = 4,   /* void * is a char * */
    gs_spt_string  = 5,   /* void * is a char * */
    gs_spt_long    = 6,   /* void * is a long * */
    gs_spt_i64     = 7,   /* void * is an int64_t * */
    gs_spt_size_t  = 8,   /* void * is a size_t * */
    gs_spt_parsed  = 9,   /* void * is a pointer to a char * to be parsed */

    /* Setting a typed param causes it to be instantly fed to to the
     * device. This can cause the device to reinitialise itself. Hence,
     * setting a sequence of typed params can cause the device to reset
     * itself several times. Accordingly, if you OR the type with
     * gs_spt_more_to_come, the param will held ready to be passed into
     * the device, and will only actually be sent when the next typed
     * param is set without this flag (or on device init). Not valid
     * for get_typed_param. */
    gs_spt_more_to_come = 1<<31
} gs_set_param_type;

Combining a type value by ORRing it with the gs_spt_more_to_come flag will cause the set_param operation to be queued internally, but not actually be sent to the device. Thus a series of set_param operations can be queued, for example as below:

  int code = gsapi_set_param(instance,
                             "HWResolution",
                             "[300 300]",
                             gs_spt_parsed | gs_spt_more_to_come);
  if (code >= 0) {
    int i = 1;
    code = gsapi_set_param(instance,
                           "FirstPage",
                           &i,
                           gs_spt_int | gs_spt_more_to_come);
  }
  if (code >= 0) {
    int i = 3;
    code = gsapi_set_param(instance,
                           "DownScaleFactor",
                           &i,
                           gs_spt_int);
  }

This enables a series of set operations to be performed 'atomically'. This can be useful for performance, in that any reconfigurations to the device (such as page size changes or memory reallocations) will only happen when all the parameters are sent, rather than potentially each time each one is sent.

gsapi_get_param()

Get a parameter. Retrieve the current value of a parameter.

If an error occurs, the return value is negative. Otherwise the return value is the number of bytes required for storage of the value. Call once with value = NULL to get the number of bytes required, then call again with value pointing to at least the required number of bytes where the value will be copied out. Note that the caller is required to know the type of value in order to get it. For all types other than string, name, and parsed knowing the type means you already know the size required.

This call retrieves parameters/values that have made it to the device. Thus, any values set using the gs_spt_more_to_come without a following call without that flag will not be retrieved. Similarly, attempting to get a parameter before gsapi_init_with_args has been called will not list any, even if gsapi_set_param has been used.

Attempting to read a parameter that is not set will return gs_error_undefined (-21). Note that calling gsapi_set_param followed by gsapi_get_param may not find the value, if the device did not recognise the key as being one of its configuration keys.

gsapi_enumerate_params()

Enumerate the current parameters. Call repeatedly to list out the current parameters.

The first call should have *iter = NULL. Subsequent calls should pass the same pointer in so the iterator can be updated. Negative return codes indicate error, 0 success, and 1 indicates that there are no more keys to read. On success, key will be updated to point to a null terminated string with the key name that is guaranteed to be valid until the next call to gsapi_enumerate_params. If type is non NULL then *type will be updated to have the type of the parameter.

Note that only one enumeration can happen at a time. Starting a second enumeration will reset the first.

The enumeration only returns parameters/values that have made it to the device. Thus, any values set using the gs_spt_more_to_come without a following call without that flag will not be retrieved. Similarly, attempting to enumerate parameters before gsapi_init_with_args has been called will not list any, even if gsapi_set_param has been used.

gsapi_add_control_path()

Add a (case sensitive) path to one of the lists of permitted paths for file access. See here for more information about permitted paths.

gsapi_remove_control_path()

Remove a (case sensitive) path from one of the lists of permitted paths for file access. See here for more information about permitted paths.

gsapi_purge_control_paths()

Clear all the paths from one of the lists of permitted paths for file access. See here for more information about permitted paths.

gsapi_activate_path_control()

Enable/Disable path control (i.e. whether paths are checked against permitted paths before access is granted). See here for more information about permitted paths.

gsapi_is_path_control_active()

Query whether path control is activated or not. See here for more information about permitted paths.

gsapi_add_fs()

Adds a new 'Filing System' to the interpreter. This enables callers to implement their own filing systems. The system starts with just the conventional 'file' handlers installed, to allow access to the local filing system. Whenever files are to be opened from the interpreter, the file paths are offered around each registered filing system in turn (from most recently registered to oldest), until either an error is given, or the file is opened successfully.

Details of the gsapi_fs_t are given below.

gsapi_remove_fs()

Remove a previously registered 'Filing System' from the interpreter. Both the function pointers within the gs_fs_t and the secret value must match exactly.

Return codes

The gsapi_init_with_args, gsapi_run_* and gsapi_exit functions return an integer code.

Return Codes from gsapi_*()
CODE STATUS
0 No errors
gs_error_Quit "quit" has been executed. This is not an error. gsapi_exit() must be called next.
gs_error_interrupt The polling callback function returned a negative value, requesting Ghostscript to abort.
gs_error_NeedInput More input is needed by gsapi_run_string_continue(). This is not an error.
gs_error_Info "gs -h" has been executed. This is not an error. gsapi_exit() must be called next.
< 0 Error
<= gs_error_Fatal Fatal error. gsapi_exit() must be called next.

The gsapi_run_*() functions do not flush stdio. If you want to see output from Ghostscript you must do this explicitly as shown in the example below.

When executing a string with gsapi_run_string_*(), currentfile is the input from the string. Reading from %stdin uses the stdin callback.

gsapi_fs_t

Each 'filing system' within gs is a structure of function pointers; each function pointer gives a handler from taking a different named resource (a file, a pipe, a printer, a scratch file etc) and attempts to open it.

typedef struct
{
    int (*open_file)(const gs_memory_t *mem,
                           void        *secret,
                     const char        *fname,
                     const char        *mode,
                           gp_file    **file);
    int (*open_pipe)(const gs_memory_t *mem,
                           void        *secret,
                     const char        *fname,
                           char        *rfname, /* 4096 bytes */
                     const char        *mode,
                           gp_file    **file);
    int (*open_scratch)(const gs_memory_t *mem,
                              void        *secret,
                        const char        *prefix,
                              char        *rfname, /* 4096 bytes */
                        const char        *mode,
                              int          rm,
                              gp_file    **file);
    int (*open_printer)(const gs_memory_t *mem,
                              void        *secret,
                              char        *fname, /* 4096 bytes */
                              int          binary,
                              gp_file    **file);
    int (*open_handle)(const gs_memory_t *mem,
                             void        *secret,
                             char        *fname, /* 4096 bytes */
                       const char        *mode,
                             gp_file    **file);
} gsapi_fs_t;

If the filename (always given in utf-8 format) is recognised as being one that the filing system handles (perhaps by the prefix used), then it should open the file, fill in the gp_file pointer and return 0.

If the filename is not-recognised as being one that the filing system handles, then returning 0 will cause the filename to be offered to other registered filing systems.

If an error is returned (perhaps gs_error_invalidfileaccess), then no other filing system will be allowed to try to open the file. This provides a mechanism whereby a caller to gsapi can completely control access to all files accessed via gp_fopen at runtime.

Note, that while most file access within ghostscript will be redirected via these functions, stdio will not; see the existing mechanisms within Ghostscript for intercepting/replacing this.

  • The open_file function pointer will be called when something (most often a call to gp_fopen) attempts to open a file.
  • The open_pipe function pointer will be called when something (most often a call to gp_popen) attempts to open a pipe. rfname points to a 4K buffer in which the actual name of the opened pipe should be returned.
  • The open_scratch function pointer will be called when something (most often a call to gp_open_scratch_file or gp_open_scratch_file_rm) attempts to open a temporary file. rfname points to a 4K buffer in which the actual name of the opened pipe should be returned. If rm is true, then the file should be set to delete itself when all handles to it are closed.
  • The open_printer function pointer will be called when something (most often a call to gp_open_printer) attempts to open a stream to a printer. If binary is true, then the stream should be opened as binary; most streams will be binary by default - this has historical meaning on OS/2.
  • The open_handle function pointer will be called when something (most often a call via the postscript %handle% IO device) attempts to open a Windows handle. This entry point will never be called on non-Windows builds.

Any of these which are left as NULL will never be called; a filing system with all of the entries left as NULL is therefore pointless.

The most complex part of the implementation of these functions is the creation of a gp_file instance to return. There are some helper functions for this, best explained by example.

Let us consider a hypothetical filing system that encrypts data as it is written, and decrypts it as it is read back. As each file is read and written the encryption/decryption routines will need to use some state, carried between calls to the filing system. We therefore might define a new type 'derived' from gp_file as follows:

typedef struct
{
   gp_file base;
   /* State private to the implementation of this file for encryption/decryption */
   /* For example: */
   int foo;
   char *bar;
} gp_file_crypt;

An implementation of gs_fs_t for our 'crypt' filing system might then look like this:

gsapi_fs_t gs_fs_crypt =
{
    crypt_open_file,
    NULL,            /* open_pipe */
    NULL,            /* open_scratch */
    NULL,            /* open_printer */
    NULL             /* open_handle */
};

In the above definition, we define a single handler, to cope with the opening of our input/output files. If we wanted to encrypt/decrypt other files too (perhaps the temporary files we produce) we'd need to define additional handlers (such as open_scratch).

Our handler might look as follows:

int crypt_open_file(const gs_memory_t  *mem,
                          void         *secret,
                    const char         *filename,
                    const char         *mode,
                          gp_file     **file)
{
    gp_file_crypt crypt;

    /* Ignore any filename not starting with "crypt://" */
    if (strncmp(filename, "crypt://", 8) != 0)
        return 0;

    /* Allocate us an instance (and fill in the non-crypt-specific
     * internals) */
    crypt = (gp_file_crypt *)gp_file_alloc(mem, &crypt_ops, sizeof(*crypt), "gp_file_crypt");
    if (crypt == NULL)
        return gs_error_VMerror; /* Allocation failed */

    /* Setup the crypt-specific state */
    crypt->foo = 1;
    crypt->bar = gs_alloc_bytes(mem->non_gc_memory, 256, "bar");
    /* If allocations fail, we need to clean up before exiting */
    if (crypt->bar) {
        gp_file_dealloc(crypt);
	return gs_error_VMerror;
    }

    /* Return the new instance */
    *file = &crypt.base;
    return 0;
}

The crucial part of this function is the definition of crypt_ops, an instance of the gp_file_ops_t type; a table of function pointers that implement the actual operations required.

typedef struct {
    int          (*close)(gp_file *);
    int          (*getc)(gp_file *);
    int          (*putc)(gp_file *, int);
    int          (*read)(gp_file *, size_t size, unsigned int count, void *buf);
    int          (*write)(gp_file *, size_t size, unsigned int count, const void *buf);
    int          (*seek)(gp_file *, gs_offset_t offset, int whence);
    gs_offset_t  (*tell)(gp_file *);
    int          (*eof)(gp_file *);
    gp_file     *(*dup)(gp_file *, const char *mode);
    int          (*seekable)(gp_file *);
    int          (*pread)(gp_file *, size_t count, gs_offset_t offset, void *buf);
    int          (*pwrite)(gp_file *, size_t count, gs_offset_t offset, const void *buf);
    int          (*is_char_buffered)(gp_file *file);
    void         (*fflush)(gp_file *file);
    int          (*ferror)(gp_file *file);
    FILE        *(*get_file)(gp_file *file);
    void         (*clearerr)(gp_file *file);
    gp_file     *(*reopen)(gp_file *f, const char *fname, const char *mode);
} gp_file_ops_t;

These functions generally follow the same patterns as the posix functions that match them, and so in many cases we will describe these with references to such. Whenever these routines are called, they will be passed a gp_file pointer. This pointer will have originated from the crypt_open_file call, and so can safely be cast back to a gp_file_crypt pointer to allow private data to be accessed.

close(gp_file *)
close the given file; free any storage in the crypt specific parts of gp_file_crypt, but not the gp_file_crypt structure itself.
int getc(gp_file *)
Get a single character from the file, returning it as an int (or -1 for EOF). Behaves like fgetc(FILE *).
int putc(gp_file *, int)
Put a single character to the file, returning the character on success, or EOF (and setting the error indicator) on error. Behaves like fgetc(FILE *).
int read(gp_file *, size_t size, unsigned int count, void *buf)
Reads count entries of size bytes the file into buf, returning the number of entries read. Behaves like fread(FILE *, size, count, buf).
int write(gp_file *, size_t size, unsigned int count, const void *buf)
Writes count entries of size bytes from buf into the file, returning the number of entries written. Behaves like fwrite(FILE *, size, count, buf).
int seek(gp_file *, gs_offset_t offset, int whence)
Seeks within the file. Behaves like fseek(FILE *, offset, whence).
gs_offset_t tell(gp_file *)
Returns the current offset within the file. Behaves like ftell(FILE *).
int eof(gp_file *)
Returns 1 if we are at the end of the file, 0 otherwise. Behaves like feof(FILE *).
gp_file * dup(gp_file *, const char *mode)
Optional function, only used if clist files are to be stored in this filing system. Behaves like fdup(FILE *). Leave NULL if not implemented.
int seekable(gp_file *)
Returns 1 if the file is seekable, 0 otherwise. Certain output devices will only work with seekable files.
int pread(gp_file *, size_t count, gs_offset_t offset, void *buf)
Optional function, only used if clist files are to be stored in this filing system. Behaves like an atomic fseek(FILE *, offset, 0) and fread(FILE *, 1, count, buf). Akin to pread.
int pwrite(gp_file *, size_t count, gs_offset_t offset, const void *buf)
Optional function, only used if clist files are to be stored in this filing system. Behaves like an atomic fseek(FILE *, offset, 0) and fwrite(FILE *, 1, count, buf). Akin to pwrite.
int is_char_buffered(gp_file *file)
Returns 1 if the file is character buffered, 0 otherwise. Used for handling reading from terminals. Very unlikely to be used, so returning 0 all the time should be safe. Leave NULL to indicate "always 0".
void fflush(gp_file *file)
Ensures that any buffered data is written to the file. Behaves like fflush(FILE *). Leave NULL to indicate that no flushing is ever required.
int ferror(gp_file *file)
Returns non-zero if there has been an error, or 0 otherwise. Behaves like ferror(FILE *).
FILE * get_file(gp_file *file)
Optional: Gets the FILE * pointer that backs this file. Required for a few devices that insist on working with FILE *'s direct. Generally safe to leave this set to NULL, and those devices will fail gracefully.
void clearerr(gp_file *file)
Clear the error and EOF values for a file. Behaves like clearerror(FILE *).
gp_file * reopen(gp_file *f, const char *fname, const char *mode)
Optional function, only used if the gp_file came from an open_scratch call; can be left as NULL if the open_scratch pointer is set to NULL. Reopen a stream with a different mode. Behaves like freopen(fname, mode, FILE *).

Callouts

Callouts are a mechanism for the core code (specifically devices) to communicate with the user of gsapi. This communication can take the form of passing information out vis-a-vis what devices are doing, or requesting configuration from the caller to affect exactly how the device itself works.

This is deliberately an extensible system, so exact details of callouts should be documented with the device in question. In general however a callout handler will be of the form:

typedef int (*gs_callout)(void *callout_handle,
                          const char *device_name,
                          int id,
                          int size,
                          void *data);

The callout_handle value passed to the callout will be the value passed in at registration. The device_name should be a null-terminated string giving the name of the device (though care should be taken to cope with the case where device_name is NULL for potential future uses). The id value will have a (device-specific) meaning; see the documentation for the device in question for more details. The same id value may be used to mean different things in different devices. Finally, size and data have callout specific meanings, but typically, data will be a pointer to data block (which may either be uninitialised or wholly/partially initialised on entry, and may be updated on exit), and size will be the size (in bytes) of the block pointed to by data.

A return value of -1 (gs_error_unknownerror) means the callout was not recognised by the handler, and should be passed to more handlers. Other negative values are interpreted as standard Ghostscript error values, and stop the propagation of the callout. Non-negative return codes mean the callout was handled and should not be passed to any more registered callout handlers.


Example Usage

To try out the following examples in a development environment like Microsoft's developer tools or Metrowerks Codewarrior, create a new project, save the example source code as a .c file and add it, along with the Ghostscript dll or shared library. You will also need to make sure the Ghostscript headers are available, either by adding their location (the src directory in the Ghostscript source distribution) to the project's search path, or by copying ierrors.h and iapi.h into the same directory as the example source.

Example 1

/* Example of using GS DLL as a ps2pdf converter.  */

#if defined(_WIN32) && !defined(_Windows)
# define _Windows
#endif
#ifdef _Windows
/* add this source to a project with gsdll32.dll, or compile it directly with:
 *   cl -D_Windows -Isrc -Febin\ps2pdf.exe ps2pdf.c bin\gsdll32.lib
 */
# include <windows.h>
# define GSDLLEXPORT __declspec(dllimport)
#endif

#include "ierrors.h"
#include "iapi.h"

void *minst = NULL;

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{
    int code, code1;
    const char * gsargv[7];
    int gsargc;
    gsargv[0] = "";
    gsargv[1] = "-dNOPAUSE";
    gsargv[2] = "-dBATCH";
    gsargv[3] = "-dSAFER";
    gsargv[4] = "-sDEVICE=pdfwrite";
    gsargv[5] = "-sOutputFile=out.pdf";
    gsargv[6] = "input.ps";
    gsargc=7;

    code = gsapi_new_instance(&minst, NULL);
    if (code < 0)
        return 1;
    code = gsapi_set_arg_encoding(minst, GS_ARG_ENCODING_UTF8);
    if (code == 0)
        code = gsapi_init_with_args(minst, gsargc, gsargv);
    code1 = gsapi_exit(minst);
    if ((code == 0) || (code == gs_error_Quit))
        code = code1;

    gsapi_delete_instance(minst);

    if ((code == 0) || (code == gs_error_Quit))
        return 0;
    return 1;
}

Example 2

/* Similar to command line gs */

#if defined(_WIN32) && !defined(_Windows)
# define _Windows
#endif
#ifdef _Windows
/* Compile directly with:
 *   cl -D_Windows -Isrc -Febin\gstest.exe gstest.c bin\gsdll32.lib
 */
# include <windows.h>
# define GSDLLEXPORT __declspec(dllimport)
#endif
#include <stdio.h>
#include "ierrors.h"
#include "iapi.h"

/* stdio functions */
static int GSDLLCALL
gsdll_stdin(void *instance, char *buf, int len)
{
    int ch;
    int count = 0;
    while (count < len) {
        ch = fgetc(stdin);
        if (ch == EOF)
            return 0;
        *buf++ = ch;
        count++;
        if (ch == '\n')
            break;
    }
    return count;
}

static int GSDLLCALL
gsdll_stdout(void *instance, const char *str, int len)
{
    fwrite(str, 1, len, stdout);
    fflush(stdout);
    return len;
}

static int GSDLLCALL
gsdll_stderr(void *instance, const char *str, int len)
{
    fwrite(str, 1, len, stderr);
    fflush(stderr);
    return len;
}

void *minst = NULL;
const char start_string[] = "systemdict /start get exec\n";

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{
    int code, code1;
    int exit_code;

    code = gsapi_new_instance(&minst, NULL);
    if (code < 0)
        return 1;
    gsapi_set_stdio(minst, gsdll_stdin, gsdll_stdout, gsdll_stderr);
    code = gsapi_set_arg_encoding(minst, GS_ARG_ENCODING_UTF8);
    if (code == 0)
        code = gsapi_init_with_args(minst, argc, argv);
    if (code == 0)
        code = gsapi_run_string(minst, start_string, 0, &exit_code);
    code1 = gsapi_exit(minst);
    if ((code == 0) || (code == gs_error_Quit))
        code = code1;

    gsapi_delete_instance(minst);

    if ((code == 0) || (code == gs_error_Quit))
        return 0;
    return 1;
}

Example 3

Replace main() in either of the above with the following code, showing how you can feed Ghostscript piecemeal:

const char *command = "1 2 add == flush\n";

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{
    int code, code1;
    int exit_code;

    code = gsapi_new_instance(&minst, NULL);
    if (code < 0)
        return 1;
    code = gsapi_set_arg_encoding(minst, GS_ARG_ENCODING_UTF8);
    if (code == 0)
        code = gsapi_init_with_args(minst, argc, argv);

    if (code == 0) {
        gsapi_run_string_begin(minst, 0, &exit_code);
        gsapi_run_string_continue(minst, command, strlen(command), 0, &exit_code);
        gsapi_run_string_continue(minst, "qu", 2, 0, &exit_code);
        gsapi_run_string_continue(minst, "it", 2, 0, &exit_code);
        gsapi_run_string_end(minst, 0, &exit_code);
    }

    code1 = gsapi_exit(minst);
    if ((code == 0) || (code == gs_error_Quit))
        code = code1;

    gsapi_delete_instance(minst);

    if ((code == 0) || (code == gs_error_Quit))
        return 0;
    return 1;
}

Example 4

When feeding Ghostscript piecemeal buffers, one can use the normal operators to configure things and invoke library routines. For example, to parse a PDF file one could say:

    code = gsapi_run_string(minst, "(example.pdf) .runlibfile", 0, &exit_code);

and Ghostscript would open and process the file named "example.pdf" as if it had been passed as an argument to gsapi_init_with_args().


Multiple threads

The Ghostscript library should have been compiled with a thread safe run time library. Synchronisation of threads is entirely up to the caller. The exported gsapi_*() functions must be called from one thread only.


Standard input and output

When using the Ghostscript interpreter library interface, you have a choice of two standard input/output methods.

  • If you do nothing, the "C" stdio will be used.
  • If you use gsapi_set_stdio(), all stdio will be redirected to the callback functions you provide. This would be used in a graphical user interface environment where stdio is not available, or where you wish to process Ghostscript input or output.

The callback functions are described in iapi.h.


Display device

The display device is available for use with the Ghostscript interpreter library. While originally designed for allowing screen display of rendered output from Ghostscript, this is now powerful enough to provide a simple mechanism for getting rendered output suitable for use in all manner of output scenarios, including printing.

Details of the API and options are given in the file gdevdsp.h. This device provides you with access to the raster output of Ghostscript. It is the callers responsibility to copy this raster to a display window or printer.

In order for this device to operate, it needs access to a structure containing a set of callback functions, and a callback handle (an opaque void * that can be used by caller to locate its own state). There are 2 ways that the device can get this information, a legacy method, and a modern method.

Legacy method

The address of the callback structure, is provided using gsapi_set_display_callback(). This must be called after gsapi_new_instance() and before gsapi_init_with_args().

With this call, the callback handle is passed as NULL by default, but can be overridden by using a parameter. We actively dislike this way of working, as we consider passing addresses via the command line distasteful. The handle can be set using

-sDisplayHandle=1234

Where "1234" is a string. The API was changed to use a string rather than an integer/long value when support for 64 bit systems arrived. A display "handle" is often a pointer, and since these command line options have to survive being processed by Postscript machinery, and Postscript only permits 32 bit number values, a different representation was required. Hence changing the value to a string, so that 64 bit values can be supported. The string formats allowed are:

1234 - implicit base 10
10#1234 - explicit base 10
16#04d2 - explicit base 16

The "number string" is parsed by the display device to retrieve the number value, and is then assigned to the void pointer parameter "pHandle" in the display device structure. Thus, for a trivial example, passing -sDisplayHandle=0 will result in the first parameter passed to your display device callbacks being: (void *)0.

The previous API, using a number value:

-dDisplayHandle=1234

is still supported on 32 bit systems, but will cause a "typecheck" error on 64 bit systems, and is considered deprecated. It should not be used in new code.

Modern method

The preferred method is to register a callout handler using gsapi_register_callout. When this handler is called for the "display" device, with id = 0 (= DISPLAY_CALLOUT_GET_CALLBACK), then data should point to an empty gs_display_get_callback_t block, with size = sizeof(gs_display_get_callback_t).

typedef struct {
    display_callback *callback;
    void *caller_handle;
} gs_display_get_callback_t;

The handler should fill in the structure before returning, with a return code of 0.

Note, that the DisplayHandle value is only consulted for display device callbacks registered using the (legacy, now deprecated) gsapi_set_display_callback API, not the preferred gsapi_register_callout based mechanism.

The device raster format can be configured using

-dDisplayFormat=NNNN

Options include

  • native, gray, RGB, CMYK or separation color spaces.
  • alpha byte (ignored).
  • 1 to 16 bits/component.
  • bigendian (RGB) or littleendian (BGR) order.
  • top first or bottom first raster.
  • 16 bits/pixel with 555 or 565 bitfields.
  • Chunky, Planar and Planar interleaved formats.
  • "Full screen" or "Rectangle Request" modes of operation.

The operation of the device is best described with a walkthrough of some example code that uses it. For simplicity and clarity, we have omitted the error handling code in this example; in production code, every place where we get a code value returned we should check it for failure (a negative value) and clean up accordingly. First, we create an instance of Ghostscript:

    void *minst = NULL;
    code = gsapi_new_instance(&minst, NULL);
    code = gsapi_set_stdio(minst, gsdll_stdin, gsdll_stdout, gsdll_stderr);

Next, we have to give the display device the address of our callback structure. In old code, we would do so using something like this:

    code = gsapi_set_display_callback(minst, &display_callback);

We strongly recommend that you don't do that, but instead use the more modern callout mechanism:

    code = gsapi_register_callout(minst, my_callout_handler, state);

where state is any void * value you like, usually a pointer to help you reach any internal state you may need. Earlier in your code you would have the definition of my_callout_handler that might look like this:

  static int
  my_callout_handler(void *instance,
                     void *callout_handle,
                     const char *device_name,
                     int id,
                     int size,
                     void *data)
{
    /* On entry, callout_handle == the value of state passed in
     * to gsapi_register_callout. */
    /* We are only interested in callouts from the display device. */
    if (device_name == NULL || strcmp(device_name, "display"))
        return -1;

    if (id == DISPLAY_CALLOUT_GET_CALLBACK)
    {
        /* Fill in the supplied block with the details of our callback
         * handler, and the handle to use. In this instance, the handle
         * is the pointer to our test structure. */
        gs_display_get_callback_t *cb = (gs_display_get_callback_t *)data;
        cb->callback = &display_callback;
        cb->caller_handle = callout_handle;
        return 0;
    }
    return -1;
}

As you can see, this callout handler only responds to callouts for the display device, and then only for one particular function (id). It returns the same display_callback structure as the deprecated, legacy mechanism passed in using gsapi_set_display_callback, with the added benefit that the caller_handle value can be passed in too. In this example we pass in the same value as was used for callout_handle, but implementations are free to use any value they want.

Returning to our example, we now set up a set of arguments to setup Ghostscript:

    int argc = 0;
    /* Allow for up to 32 args of up to 64 chars each. */
    char argv[32][64];
    sprintf(argc[argc++], "gs");
    sprintf(argv[argc++], "-sDEVICE=display");

The zeroth arg is a dummy argument to match the standard C mechanism for passing arguments to a program. Traditionally this is the name of the program being invoked. Next, we tell Ghostscript to use the display device.

    sprintf(argv[argc++], "-sDEVICE=display");
Next we tell the display device what output format to use. The format is flexible enough to support common Windows, OS/2, Linux and Mac raster formats.

The format values are described in gdevdsp.h. To select the display device with a Windows 24-bit RGB raster:

    sprintf(argv[argc++], "-dDisplayFormat=%d",
        DISPLAY_COLORS_RGB | DISPLAY_ALPHA_NONE | DISPLAY_DEPTH_8 |
        DISPLAY_LITTLEENDIAN | DISPLAY_BOTTOMFIRST);

If (and only if) you used the legacy mechanism described above, you will need another argument to pass in the caller_handle value to be parroted back to the functions listed within display_callback:

    sprintf(arg2, "-dDisplayHandle=%d", callout_handle);

Any other arguments that you want can be added to the end of the command line, typically including a file to run. Then we pass that all to Ghostscript:

    code = gsapi_init_with_args(minst, argc, argv);

At this point you should start to see your display callback functions being called. Exactly which callback functions are provided, and how they respond will determine exactly how the display device operates. The primary choice will be whether the device runs in "full page" or "rectangle request" mode. Details of these are given below.

Once we have finished processing the file, we can process other files using gsapi_run_file, or feed in data using gsapi_run_string. Once you have finished, you can shut the interpreter down and exit, using:

  code = gsapi_exit(minst);
  gsapi_delete_instance(minst);

A full list of the display callback functions can be found in gdevdsp.h. There are several different versions of the callback, corresponding to different "generations" of the device. In general you should use the latest one. The size field of the structure should be initialised to the size of the structure in bytes.

display_open

int (*display_open)(void *handle, void *device);

This function will be called when the display device is opened. The device may be opened and closed many times, sometimes without any output being produced.

display_preclose

int (*display_preclose)(void *handle, void *device);

This function will be called when the display device is about to be closed. The device will not actually be closed until this function returns.

display_close

int (*display_close)(void *handle, void *device);

This function will be called once the display device has been closed. There will be no more events from the device unless/until it is reopened.

display_presize

int (*display_presize)(void *handle, void *device,
        int width, int height, int raster, unsigned int format);

This function will be called when the display device is about to be resized. The device will only be resized if this function returns 0.

display_size

int (*display_size)(void *handle, void *device, int width, int height,
  int raster, unsigned int format, unsigned char *pimage);

This function will be called when the display device is has been resized. The pointer to the raster image is pimage.

display_sync

int (*display_sync)(void *handle, void *device);

This function may be called periodically during display to flush the page to the display.

display_page

int (*display_page)(void *handle, void *device, int copies, int flush);

This function is called on a "showpage" operation (i.e. at the end of every page). Operation will continue as soon as this function returns.

display_update

int (*display_update)(void *handle, void *device,
        int x, int y, int w, int h);

This function may get called repeatedly during rendering to indicate that an area of the output has been updated. Certain types of rendering will not see this function called back at all (in particular files using transparency).

display_memalloc

int (*display_memalloc)(void *handle, void *device,
        size_t long size);

Note: In older versions of this API, size is an unsigned long rather than a size_t.

If this function pointer is sent as NULL, then the display device will handle all the memory allocations internally, and will always work in full page rendering mode.

Otherwise, this function will be called to allocate the storage for the page to be rendered into. If a non-NULL value is returned, then the device will proceed to render the full page into it. If NULL is returned, then the device will check a) whether we are using a V2 or greater display callback structure and b) whether that structure specifies a rectangle_request function pointer.

If both of those conditions are true, then the device will continue in rectangle request mode. Otherwise it will fail with an out of memory error.

display_memfree

int (*display_memfree)(void *handle, void *device, void *ptr);

This function should be NULL if and only if display_memalloc is NULL. Any memory allocated using display_memalloc will be freed via this function.

display_separation

int (*display_separation)(void *handle, void *device,
        int component, const char *component_name,
        unsigned short c, unsigned short m,
        unsigned short y, unsigned short k);

When using DISPLAY_COLORS_SEPARATION, this function will be called once for every separation component - first "Cyan", "Magenta", "Yellow" and "Black", then any spot colors used. The supplied c, m, y and k values give the equivalent color for each spot. Each colorant value ranges from 0 (for none) to 65535 (full).

In separation color mode you are expected to count the number of calls you get to this function after each display_size to know how many colors you are dealing with.

display_adjust_band_height

int (*display_adjust_band_height)(void *handle, void *device,
        int bandheight);

When running in "rectangle request mode" the device first renders the page to a display list internally. It can then be played back repeatedly so that different regions (rectangles) of the page can be extracted in sequence. A common use of this is to support "banded" operation, where the page is divided into multiple non-overlapping bands of a fixed height.

The display device itself will pick an appropriate band height for it to use. If this function pointer is left as NULL then this value will be used unchanged. Otherwise, the proposed value will be offered to this function. This function can override the choice of bandheight, by returning the value that it would like to be used in preference.

In general, this figure should (as much as possible) only be adjusted downwards. For example, a device targeting an inkjet printer with 200 nozzles in the print head might like to extract bands that are a multiple of 200 lines high. So the function might return max(200, 200*(bandheight/200)). If the function returns 0, then the existing value will be used unchanged.

Any size rectangle can be chosen with any size bandheight, so ultimately the value chosen here will not matter much. It may make some small difference in speed in some cases.

display_rectangle_request

int (*display_rectangle_request)(void *handle, void *device,
        void **memory, int *ox, int *oy,
        int *raster, int *plane_raster,
        int *x, int *y, int *w, int *h);

If the display device chooses to use rectangle request mode, this function will be called repeatedly to request a rectangle to render. Ghostscript will render the rectangle, and call this function again. The implementer is expected to handle the rectangle that has just been rendered, and to return the details of another rectangle to render. This will continue until a rectangle with zero height or width is returned, whereupon Ghostscript will continue operation.

On entry, *raster and *plane_raster are set to the values expected by the format in use. All the other pointers point to uninitialised values.

On exit, the values should be updated appropriately. The implementor is expected to store the values returned so that the rendered output given can be correctly interpreted when control returns to this function.

memory should be updated to point to a block of memory to use for the rendered output. Pixel (*ox, *oy) is the first pixel represented in that block. *raster is the number of bytes difference between the address of component 0 of Pixel(*ox, *oy) and the address of component 0 of Pixel(*ox, 1+*oy). *plane_raster is the number of bytes difference between the address of component 0 of Pixel(*ox, *oy) and the address of component 1 of Pixel(*ox, *oy), if in planar mode, 0 otherwise. *x, *y, *w and *h give the rectangle requested within that memory block.

Any set of rectangles can be rendered with this method, so this can be used to drive Ghostscript in various ways. Firstly, it is simple to request a set of non-overlapping "bands" that cover the page, to drive a printer. Alternatively, rectangles can be chosen to fill a given block of memory to implement a window panning around a larger page. Either the whole image could be redrawn each time, or smaller rectangles around the edge of the panned area could be requested. The choice is down to the caller.

Some examples of driving this code in full page mode are in dwmain.c (Windows), dpmain.c (OS/2) and dxmain.c (X11/Linux), and dmmain.c (MacOS Classic or Carbon).

Alternatively an example that drives this code in both full page and rectangle request mode can be found in displaydevice_test.c.

On some platforms, the calling convention for the display device callbacks in gdevdsp.h is not the same as the exported gsapi_*() functions in iapi.h.


Copyright © 2000-2020 Artifex Software, Inc. All rights reserved.

This software is provided AS-IS with no warranty, either express or implied.

This software is distributed under license and may not be copied, modified or distributed except as expressly authorized under the terms of that license. Refer to licensing information at https://www.artifex.com or contact Artifex Software, Inc., 1305 Grant Avenue - Suite 200, Novato, CA 94945, U.S.A., +1(415)492-9861, for further information.

Ghostscript version 9.53.3, 1 October 2020