Embedding Python and Boost.Python

I recently decided to revamp an old 2D engine I wrote ages ago.

Before writing new code (for one, I wanted to convert the 2D blits to OpenGL and use textured quads), I decided it would be wiser to integrate Python to quickly write scripts to

  • Define Levels
  • Define Sprites and Animations
  • Script enemies
  • etc…

Unfortunately, integrating Python proved to be a harder task than I expected. I first took a look at SWIG but I didn’t like that it required conversion files… Boost.Python seemed a bit better as it seems to handle all the glue code internally so that you can simply build your C++ and automatically have your classes and functions available in Python.

After following the advise of Jon Skinner I decided to go with the “latest” builds of both Python (3.3.0) and Boost (1.52.0). This meant that I couldn’t use prepackaged versions of Boost, I would have to build it myself.

Building Python was a charm, it’s a very simple process.

Boost on the other hand, is not so simple. After fighting a lot with bjam to compile Python using the instructions in this tutorial, I decided to try a few things and simplify the problem. As described in the stack overflow question, things got hairy, but I decided to simplify things even more. I would pass as little arguments as bjam as possible and see what would happen. To my surprise, simplifying my user-config.jam to:

using python : 3.3 : C:\\Development\\Python-3.3.0\\PCBuild\\python.exe
    : C:\\Development\\Python-3.3.0\\Include C:\\Development\\Python-3.3.0\\PC
    : C:\\Development\\Python-3.3.0\\PCBuild : ;

And changing the command line to:

bjam --user-config=user-config.jam --with-python

simply rebuild all the targets and gave me what I was looking for!

Now, with Python and Boost.Python built… I was ready to write a test project to make sure everything worked as I expected.

Starting with the simplest program I could have, I went with:

int main(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])

	return 0;

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the results was expecting…

Fatal Python error: Py_Initialize: unable to load the file system codec
ImportError: No module named 'encodings'

What is this ‘encodings’ you are talking about? Unless I skipped it while reading, I only realized while looking at my Sublime Text 2 install that Jon had a python26.zip file in the main folder of the application… after further inspection, this zip file contained all the core Python scripts. I therefore created a python33.zip containing the contents of my Python-3.3.0\Lib folder and it worked without a hitch!

I decided to follow SiCrane’s article on gamedev.net to have a simple example to follow. I simply added the two following lines to my very simple program:

char const* greet()
	return "hello, world";

	using namespace boost::python;
	def("greet", greet);

And bam! Access violation when detaching the boost python dll…
To fix this, I simply add to define


for my project.

I’m continuing my experiments and will keep you posted with my progress.

2 thoughts on “Embedding Python and Boost.Python

  1. Pascal says:

    So… did it all work out in the end? I also want to use boost for Python 3.3!

  2. Eric says:

    Hi Pascal!
    Unfortunately I had to put this project on ice, but I’ll go back to it in the next few months, I’ll keep you updated!

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