[ SDL2 – Part 1 ] Setting up SDL2

Introduction


This tutorial will teach you how to program your own games using C++ and SDL2! This first part will just teach you how to set up SDL2. Don’t worry, it’s very easy. And when you’re done, you can jump ahead to part 2 where we will get something on screen.

This series is a little fast-paced and is mostly aimed at people who knows the basics of programming in C++, but I will try to explain everything. The series will also explain the various types and functions in SDL2, what they do, and what they are for. By the end of the series, you will have a good understanding of SDL2.

During the series we will be making several small games, but I recommend that you play around with the code and have fun. The best way of learning is to experiment.

So what is SDL2?


SDL2 is a cross-platform multimedia development library. You can use SDL2 to access your keyboard, for graphics, play sounds and for communication over Internet. SDl2 can also be used alongside with OpenGL. SDL2 can create the window for OpenGL and be used for text rendering, multiplayer and image loading.

SDL2 brings on a set of changes from SDL1.2. First of all, SDL2 has support for hardware acceleration, which means it’ll be very fast compared to SDL1.2. It also has an improved rendering structure with an object representing the window and an object for dealing with the rendering. I will cover these in more detail in the next post. For now, let’s just install it.

Installation


Installing SDL2 can be a bit tricky, especially on some operating systems where you might have to compile it yourself ( though this is becoming more rare. )

Linux


Linux comes in all shapes and sizes. Below are guides on how to install on most distributions of Linux.

Debian ( Ubuntu, Debian, Mint )


Depnding on your distro and version, you might be able to install SDL2 using the package manager. I.e :

sudo apt-get install libsdl2

If your package manager does have SDL2. it will be installed and you’re done. If not, you’ll have to compile SDL2 yourself Don’t worry, it’s easy. Just follow this excellent guide :

Installing SDL2 on Linux

Arch


Probably the easiest. Simply use pacman :

sudo pacman -S sdl2

And that’s all, SDL2 is installed now.

Fedora


Just as easy as Arch :

sudo yum install sdl2

Note: Since I’m not running Fedora, I haven’t been able to test this. But it should work, and if it doesn’t, feel free to post a comment ( you’ll be the first, you lucky bastard! )

Other distros?


If you are using other distributions, there are three things you can try.

  1. Simply use your package manager and see if it has SDL2/, libsdl2 or lSDL2 or something like that.
  2. Try Google! Yes, I know it’s kinda obvious, but chances are someone else has had the same issue, it’s worth a shot.
  3. If 1 and 2 doesn’t work, you could still try the guide for Debian. You will have to switch sudo apt-get install with the command for install packages on your distribution.

Windows


Setting up SDL2 in Windows is a littel bit more complicated, so I made a seperate post for it. You can find it here.

Mac


This will be the shortest guide and it will only cover homebrew since I don’t have the access to any computer running OS X.

In terminal simply type

brew install SDL2

Note: Since I haven’t actually tested this, I can’t guarantee that it will work.

Testing it


Now we come to the fun part, we get to actually use it and run or SDL2 application. Our end result isn’t terribly exiting this time, it just creates an empty window with a red background. But things will get better, I promise!

Compiling on Linux and Mac using terminal


To compile on Linux, simply add lSDL2 to your compilation string. To compile main.cpp you can do

clang++ main.cpp -lSDL2 -o SDLTest

If you are using GCC, the compilation string is

g++ main.cpp -lSDL2 -o SDLTest

Compiling on Linux and Mac without terminal


If you’re not using the terminal, you need to set up your IDE to use the SDL2 libraries. This should be a simple process, check the documentation for you IDE to find exactly how to do this. I do recommend using the terminal, though. It’s much simpler.

Compiling on Windows in VisualStudio


If you have followed my guide, you shouldn’t have to do anything in order to compile.

If you get any compile errors you need to check your include directory. Remember that you should add the folder that has the SDL2 folder, but not the SDL2 folder itself. This is because the example code uses #include

If you get linker errors, make sure you have added the folder with the SDL2.lib file.

If you get runtime errors, make sure you have all the .dll files in an appropriate directory.

Sample code


To test it, simply replace the content with your main.cpp with the following code snippet. If it displays a window, SDL2 is working properly on your window. Don’t worry about the code just now, I’ll explain it in the next part.


Feel free to comment if you have anything to say or ask questions if anything is unclear. I always appreciate getting comments.

You can also email me : olevegard@headerphile.com

One thought on “[ SDL2 – Part 1 ] Setting up SDL2”

  1. For distributions derived from Debian and Debian itself, you want to install libsdl2-dev for the development files. Not just libsdl2, which “only” contains the runtime libraries.

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