Building PCRE without using autotools
This document contains the following sections:
Generic instructions for the PCRE C library
The C++ wrapper functions
Building for virtual Pascal
Stack size in Windows environments
Linking programs in Windows environments
Calling conventions in Windows environments
Comments about Win32 builds
Building PCRE on Windows with CMake
Use of relative paths with CMake on Windows
Testing with RunTest.bat
Building under Windows CE with Visual Studio 200x
Building under Windows with BCC5.5
Building using Borland C++ Builder 2007 (CB2007) and higher
Building PCRE on OpenVMS
Building PCRE on Stratus OpenVOS
Building PCRE on native z/OS and z/VM
I (Philip Hazel) have no experience of Windows or VMS sytems and how their
libraries work. The items in the PCRE distribution and Makefile that relate to
anything other than Linux systems are untested by me.
There are some other comments and files (including some documentation in CHM
format) in the Contrib directory on the FTP site:
The basic PCRE library consists entirely of code written in Standard C, and so
should compile successfully on any system that has a Standard C compiler and
library. The C++ wrapper functions are a separate issue (see below).
The PCRE distribution includes a "configure" file for use by the configure/make
(autotools) build system, as found in many Unix-like environments. The README
file contains information about the options for "configure".
There is also support for CMake, which some users prefer, especially in Windows
environments, though it can also be run in Unix-like environments. See the
section entitled "Building PCRE on Windows with CMake" below.
Versions of config.h and pcre.h are distributed in the PCRE tarballs under the
names config.h.generic and pcre.h.generic. These are provided for those who
build PCRE without using "configure" or CMake. If you use "configure" or CMake,
the .generic versions are not used.
GENERIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PCRE C LIBRARY
The following are generic instructions for building the PCRE C library "by
hand". If you are going to use CMake, this section does not apply to you; you
can skip ahead to the CMake section.
(1) Copy or rename the file config.h.generic as config.h, and edit the macro
settings that it contains to whatever is appropriate for your environment.
In particular, you can alter the definition of the NEWLINE macro to
specify what character(s) you want to be interpreted as line terminators.
In an EBCDIC environment, you MUST change NEWLINE, because its default
value is 10, an ASCII LF. The usual EBCDIC newline character is 21 (0x15,
NL), though in some cases it may be 37 (0x25).
When you compile any of the PCRE modules, you must specify -DHAVE_CONFIG_H
to your compiler so that config.h is included in the sources.
An alternative approach is not to edit config.h, but to use -D on the
compiler command line to make any changes that you need to the
configuration options. In this case -DHAVE_CONFIG_H must not be set.
NOTE: There have been occasions when the way in which certain parameters
in config.h are used has changed between releases. (In the configure/make
world, this is handled automatically.) When upgrading to a new release,
you are strongly advised to review config.h.generic before re-using what
you had previously.
(2) Copy or rename the file pcre.h.generic as pcre.h.
Copy or rename file pcre_chartables.c.dist as pcre_chartables.c.
Compile dftables.c as a stand-alone program (using -DHAVE_CONFIG_H if
you have set up config.h), and then run it with the single argument
"pcre_chartables.c". This generates a set of standard character tables
and writes them to that file. The tables are generated using the default
C locale for your system. If you want to use a locale that is specified
by LC_xxx environment variables, add the -L option to the dftables
command. You must use this method if you are building on a system that
uses EBCDIC code.
The tables in pcre_chartables.c are defaults. The caller of PCRE can
specify alternative tables at run time.
(4) Ensure that you have the following header files:
(5) For an 8-bit library, compile the following source files, setting
-DHAVE_CONFIG_H as a compiler option if you have set up config.h with your
configuration, or else use other -D settings to change the configuration
Make sure that you include -I. in the compiler command (or equivalent for
an unusual compiler) so that all included PCRE header files are first
sought in the current directory. Otherwise you run the risk of picking up
a previously-installed file from somewhere else.
Note that you must still compile pcre_jit_compile.c, even if you have not
defined SUPPORT_JIT in config.h, because when JIT support is not
configured, dummy functions are compiled. When JIT support IS configured,
pcre_jit_compile.c #includes sources from the sljit subdirectory, where
there should be 16 files, all of whose names begin with "sljit".
(6) Now link all the compiled code into an object library in whichever form
your system keeps such libraries. This is the basic PCRE C 8-bit library.
If your system has static and shared libraries, you may have to do this
once for each type.
(7) If you want to build a 16-bit library (as well as, or instead of the 8-bit
or 32-bit libraries) repeat steps 5-6 with the following files:
(8) If you want to build a 32-bit library (as well as, or instead of the 8-bit
or 16-bit libraries) repeat steps 5-6 with the following files:
(9) If you want to build the POSIX wrapper functions (which apply only to the
8-bit library), ensure that you have the pcreposix.h file and then compile
pcreposix.c (remembering -DHAVE_CONFIG_H if necessary). Link the result
(on its own) as the pcreposix library.
(10) The pcretest program can be linked with any combination of the 8-bit,
16-bit and 32-bit libraries (depending on what you selected in config.h).
Compile pcretest.c and pcre_printint.c (again, don't forget
-DHAVE_CONFIG_H) and link them together with the appropriate library/ies.
If you compiled an 8-bit library, pcretest also needs the pcreposix
wrapper library unless you compiled it with -DNOPOSIX.
(11) Run pcretest on the testinput files in the testdata directory, and check
that the output matches the corresponding testoutput files. There are
comments about what each test does in the section entitled "Testing PCRE"
in the README file. If you compiled more than one of the 8-bit, 16-bit and
32-bit libraries, you need to run pcretest with the -16 option to do
16-bit tests and with the -32 option to do 32-bit tests.
Some tests are relevant only when certain build-time options are selected.
For example, test 4 is for UTF-8/UTF-16/UTF-32 support, and will not run
if you have built PCRE without it. See the comments at the start of each
testinput file. If you have a suitable Unix-like shell, the RunTest script
will run the appropriate tests for you. The command "RunTest list" will
output a list of all the tests.
Note that the supplied files are in Unix format, with just LF characters
as line terminators. You may need to edit them to change this if your
system uses a different convention. If you are using Windows, you probably
should use the wintestinput3 file instead of testinput3 (and the
corresponding output file). This is a locale test; wintestinput3 sets the
locale to "french" rather than "fr_FR", and there some minor output
(12) If you have built PCRE with SUPPORT_JIT, the JIT features will be tested
by the testdata files. However, you might also like to build and run
the freestanding JIT test program, pcre_jit_test.c.
(13) If you want to use the pcregrep command, compile and link pcregrep.c; it
uses only the basic 8-bit PCRE library (it does not need the pcreposix
THE C++ WRAPPER FUNCTIONS
The PCRE distribution also contains some C++ wrapper functions and tests,
applicable to the 8-bit library, which were contributed by Google Inc. On a
system that can use "configure" and "make", the functions are automatically
built into a library called pcrecpp. It should be straightforward to compile
the .cc files manually on other systems. The files called xxx_unittest.cc are
test programs for each of the corresponding xxx.cc files.
BUILDING FOR VIRTUAL PASCAL
A script for building PCRE using Borland's C++ compiler for use with VPASCAL
was contributed by Alexander Tokarev. Stefan Weber updated the script and added
additional files. The following files in the distribution are for building PCRE
for use with VP/Borland: makevp_c.txt, makevp_l.txt, makevp.bat, pcregexp.pas.
STACK SIZE IN WINDOWS ENVIRONMENTS
The default processor stack size of 1Mb in some Windows environments is too
small for matching patterns that need much recursion. In particular, test 2 may
fail because of this. Normally, running out of stack causes a crash, but there
have been cases where the test program has just died silently. See your linker
documentation for how to increase stack size if you experience problems. The
Linux default of 8Mb is a reasonable choice for the stack, though even that can
be too small for some pattern/subject combinations.
PCRE has a compile configuration option to disable the use of stack for
recursion so that heap is used instead. However, pattern matching is
significantly slower when this is done. There is more about stack usage in the
LINKING PROGRAMS IN WINDOWS ENVIRONMENTS
If you want to statically link a program against a PCRE library in the form of
a non-dll .a file, you must define PCRE_STATIC before including pcre.h or
pcrecpp.h, otherwise the pcre_malloc() and pcre_free() exported functions will
be declared __declspec(dllimport), with unwanted results.
CALLING CONVENTIONS IN WINDOWS ENVIRONMENTS
It is possible to compile programs to use different calling conventions using
MSVC. Search the web for "calling conventions" for more information. To make it
easier to change the calling convention for the exported functions in the
PCRE library, the macro PCRE_CALL_CONVENTION is present in all the external
definitions. It can be set externally when compiling (e.g. in CFLAGS). If it is
not set, it defaults to empty; the default calling convention is then used
(which is what is wanted most of the time).
COMMENTS ABOUT WIN32 BUILDS (see also "BUILDING PCRE ON WINDOWS WITH CMAKE")
There are two ways of building PCRE using the "configure, make, make install"
paradigm on Windows systems: using MinGW or using Cygwin. These are not at all
the same thing; they are completely different from each other. There is also
support for building using CMake, which some users find a more straightforward
way of building PCRE under Windows.
The MinGW home page (http://www.mingw.org/) says this:
MinGW: A collection of freely available and freely distributable Windows
specific header files and import libraries combined with GNU toolsets that
allow one to produce native Windows programs that do not rely on any
3rd-party C runtime DLLs.
The Cygwin home page (http://www.cygwin.com/) says this:
Cygwin is a Linux-like environment for Windows. It consists of two parts:
. A DLL (cygwin1.dll) which acts as a Linux API emulation layer providing
substantial Linux API functionality
. A collection of tools which provide Linux look and feel.
The Cygwin DLL currently works with all recent, commercially released x86 32
bit and 64 bit versions of Windows, with the exception of Windows CE.
On both MinGW and Cygwin, PCRE should build correctly using:
./configure && make && make install
This should create two libraries called libpcre and libpcreposix, and, if you
have enabled building the C++ wrapper, a third one called libpcrecpp. These are
independent libraries: when you link with libpcreposix or libpcrecpp you must
also link with libpcre, which contains the basic functions. (Some earlier
releases of PCRE included the basic libpcre functions in libpcreposix. This no
A user submitted a special-purpose patch that makes it easy to create
"pcre.dll" under mingw32 using the "msys" environment. It provides "pcre.dll"
as a special target. If you use this target, no other files are built, and in
particular, the pcretest and pcregrep programs are not built. An example of how
this might be used is:
./configure --enable-utf --disable-cpp CFLAGS="-03 -s"; make pcre.dll
Using Cygwin's compiler generates libraries and executables that depend on
cygwin1.dll. If a library that is generated this way is distributed,
cygwin1.dll has to be distributed as well. Since cygwin1.dll is under the GPL
licence, this forces not only PCRE to be under the GPL, but also the entire
application. A distributor who wants to keep their own code proprietary must
purchase an appropriate Cygwin licence.
MinGW has no such restrictions. The MinGW compiler generates a library or
executable that can run standalone on Windows without any third party dll or
But there is more complication:
If a Cygwin user uses the -mno-cygwin Cygwin gcc flag, what that really does is
to tell Cygwin's gcc to use the MinGW gcc. Cygwin's gcc is only acting as a
front end to MinGW's gcc (if you install Cygwin's gcc, you get both Cygwin's
gcc and MinGW's gcc). So, a user can:
. Build native binaries by using MinGW or by getting Cygwin and using
. Build binaries that depend on cygwin1.dll by using Cygwin with the normal
The test files that are supplied with PCRE are in UNIX format, with LF
characters as line terminators. Unless your PCRE library uses a default newline
option that includes LF as a valid newline, it may be necessary to change the
line terminators in the test files to get some of the tests to work.
BUILDING PCRE ON WINDOWS WITH CMAKE
CMake is an alternative configuration facility that can be used instead of
"configure". CMake creates project files (make files, solution files, etc.)
tailored to numerous development environments, including Visual Studio,
Borland, Msys, MinGW, NMake, and Unix. If possible, use short paths with no
spaces in the names for your CMake installation and your PCRE source and build
The following instructions were contributed by a PCRE user. If they are not
followed exactly, errors may occur. In the event that errors do occur, it is
recommended that you delete the CMake cache before attempting to repeat the
CMake build process. In the CMake GUI, the cache can be deleted by selecting
"File > Delete Cache".
1. Install the latest CMake version available from http://www.cmake.org/, and
ensure that cmake\bin is on your path.
2. Unzip (retaining folder structure) the PCRE source tree into a source
directory such as C:\pcre. You should ensure your local date and time
is not earlier than the file dates in your source dir if the release is
3. Create a new, empty build directory, preferably a subdirectory of the
source dir. For example, C:\pcre\pcre-xx\build.
4. Run cmake-gui from the Shell envirornment of your build tool, for example,
Msys for Msys/MinGW or Visual Studio Command Prompt for VC/VC++. Do not try
to start Cmake from the Windows Start menu, as this can lead to errors.
5. Enter C:\pcre\pcre-xx and C:\pcre\pcre-xx\build for the source and build
6. Hit the "Configure" button.
7. Select the particular IDE / build tool that you are using (Visual
Studio, MSYS makefiles, MinGW makefiles, etc.)
8. The GUI will then list several configuration options. This is where
you can enable UTF-8 support or other PCRE optional features.
9. Hit "Configure" again. The adjacent "Generate" button should now be
10. Hit "Generate".
11. The build directory should now contain a usable build system, be it a
solution file for Visual Studio, makefiles for MinGW, etc. Exit from
cmake-gui and use the generated build system with your compiler or IDE.
E.g., for MinGW you can run "make", or for Visual Studio, open the PCRE
solution, select the desired configuration (Debug, or Release, etc.) and
build the ALL_BUILD project.
12. If during configuration with cmake-gui you've elected to build the test
programs, you can execute them by building the test project. E.g., for
MinGW: "make test"; for Visual Studio build the RUN_TESTS project. The
most recent build configuration is targeted by the tests. A summary of
test results is presented. Complete test output is subsequently
available for review in Testing\Temporary under your build dir.
USE OF RELATIVE PATHS WITH CMAKE ON WINDOWS
A PCRE user comments as follows: I thought that others may want to know the
current state of CMAKE_USE_RELATIVE_PATHS support on Windows. Here it is:
-- AdditionalIncludeDirectories is only partially modified (only the
first path - see below)
-- Only some of the contained file paths are modified - shown below for
-- It properly modifies
I am sure CMake people can fix that if they want to. Until then one will
need to replace existing absolute paths in project files with relative
paths manually (e.g. from VS) - relative to project file location. I did
just that before being told to try CMAKE_USE_RELATIVE_PATHS. Not a big
TESTING WITH RUNTEST.BAT
If configured with CMake, building the test project ("make test" or building
ALL_TESTS in Visual Studio) creates (and runs) pcre_test.bat (and depending
on your configuration options, possibly other test programs) in the build
directory. Pcre_test.bat runs RunTest.Bat with correct source and exe paths.
For manual testing with RunTest.bat, provided the build dir is a subdirectory
of the source directory: Open command shell window. Chdir to the location
of your pcretest.exe and pcregrep.exe programs. Call RunTest.bat with
"..\RunTest.Bat" or "..\..\RunTest.bat" as appropriate.
To run only a particular test with RunTest.Bat provide a test number argument.
1. Copy RunTest.bat into the directory where pcretest.exe and pcregrep.exe
have been created.
2. Edit RunTest.bat to indentify the full or relative location of
the pcre source (wherein which the testdata folder resides), e.g.:
3. In a Windows command environment, chdir to the location of your bat and
4. Run RunTest.bat. Test outputs will automatically be compared to expected
results, and discrepancies will be identified in the console output.
To independently test the just-in-time compiler, run pcre_jit_test.exe.
To test pcrecpp, run pcrecpp_unittest.exe, pcre_stringpiece_unittest.exe and
BUILDING UNDER WINDOWS CE WITH VISUAL STUDIO 200x
Vincent Richomme sent a zip archive of files to help with this process. They
can be found in the file "pcre-vsbuild.zip" in the Contrib directory of the FTP
BUILDING UNDER WINDOWS WITH BCC5.5
Michael Roy sent these comments about building PCRE under Windows with BCC5.5:
Some of the core BCC libraries have a version of PCRE from 1998 built in, which
can lead to pcre_exec() giving an erroneous PCRE_ERROR_NULL from a version
mismatch. I'm including an easy workaround below, if you'd like to include it
in the non-unix instructions:
When linking a project with BCC5.5, pcre.lib must be included before any of the
libraries cw32.lib, cw32i.lib, cw32mt.lib, and cw32mti.lib on the command line.
BUILDING USING BORLAND C++ BUILDER 2007 (CB2007) AND HIGHER
A PCRE user sent these comments about this environment (see also the comment
from another user that follows them):
The XE versions of C++ Builder come with a RegularExpressionsCore class which
contain a version of TPerlRegEx. However, direct use of the C PCRE library may
The default makevp.bat, however, supplied with PCRE builds a version of PCRE
that is not usable with any version of C++ Builder because the compiler ships
with an embedded version of PCRE, version 2.01 from 1998! [See also the note
about BCC5.5 above.] If you want to use PCRE you'll need to rename the
functions (pcre_compile to pcre_compile_bcc, etc) or do as I have done and just
use the 16 bit versions. I'm using std::wstring everywhere anyway. Since the
embedded version of PCRE does not have the 16 bit function names, there is no
Building PCRE using a C++ Builder static library project file (recommended):
1. Rename or remove pcre.h, pcreposi.h, and pcreposix.h from your C++ Builder
original include path.
2. Download PCRE from pcre.org and extract to a directory.
3. Rename pcre_chartables.c.dist to pcre_chartables.c, pcre.h.generic to
pcre.h, and config.h.generic to config.h.
4. Edit pcre.h and pcre_config.c so that they include config.h.
5. Edit config.h like so:
Comment out the following lines:
#define PACKAGE "pcre"
#define PACKAGE_BUGREPORT ""
#define PACKAGE_NAME "PCRE"
#define PACKAGE_STRING "PCRE 8.32"
#define PACKAGE_TARNAME "pcre"
#define PACKAGE_URL ""
#define PACKAGE_VERSION "8.32"
Add the following lines:
#define SUPPORT_UTF 100 // any value is fine
#define SUPPORT_UCP 101 // any value is fine
#define SUPPORT_PCRE16 102 // any value is fine
#define SUPPORT_UTF8 103 // any value is fine
6. Build a C++ Builder project using the IDE. Go to File / New / Other and
choose Static Library. You can name it pcre.cbproj or whatever. Now set your
paths by going to Project / Options. Set the Include path. Do this from the
"Base" option to apply to both Release and Debug builds. Now add the following
files to the project:
7. After compiling the .lib file, copy the .lib and header files to a project
you want to use PCRE with. Enjoy.
Optional ... Building PCRE using the makevp.bat file:
1. Edit makevp_c.txt and makevp_l.txt and change all the names to the 16 bit
2. Edit makevp.bat and set the path to C++ Builder. Run makevp.bat.
Another PCRE user added this comment:
Another approach I successfully used for some years with BCB 5 and 6 was to
make sure that include and library paths of PCRE are configured before the
default paths of the IDE in the dialogs where one can manage those paths.
Afterwards one can open the project files using a text editor and manually add
the self created library for pcre itself, pcrecpp doesn't ship with the IDE, in
the library nodes where the IDE manages its own libraries to link against in
front of the IDE-own libraries. This way one can use the default PCRE function
names without getting access violations on runtime.
<ALLLIB value="libpcre.lib $(LIBFILES) $(LIBRARIES) import32.lib cp32mt.lib"/>
BUILDING PCRE ON OPENVMS
Stephen Hoffman sent the following, in December 2012:
"Here <http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/1847> is a very short write-up on the
OpenVMS port and here
is a zip with the OpenVMS files, and with one modified testing-related PCRE
file." This is a port of PCRE 8.32.
Earlier, Dan Mooney sent the following comments about building PCRE on OpenVMS.
They relate to an older version of PCRE that used fewer source files, so the
exact commands will need changing. See the current list of source files above.
"It was quite easy to compile and link the library. I don't have a formal
make file but the attached file [reproduced below] contains the OpenVMS DCL
commands I used to build the library. I had to add #define
POSIX_MALLOC_THRESHOLD 10 to pcre.h since it was not defined anywhere.
The library was built on:
O/S: HP OpenVMS v7.3-1
Compiler: Compaq C v6.5-001-48BCD
The test results did not match 100% due to the issues you mention in your
documentation regarding isprint(), iscntrl(), isgraph() and ispunct(). I
modified some of the character tables temporarily and was able to get the
results to match. Tests using the fr locale did not match since I don't have
that locale loaded. The study size was always reported to be 3 less than the
value in the standard test output files."
$! This DCL procedure builds PCRE on OpenVMS
$! I followed the instructions in the non-unix-use file in the distribution.
$ COMPILE == "CC/LIST/NOMEMBER_ALIGNMENT/PREFIX_LIBRARY_ENTRIES=ALL_ENTRIES
$ COMPILE DFTABLES.C
$ LINK/EXE=DFTABLES.EXE DFTABLES.OBJ
$ RUN DFTABLES.EXE/OUTPUT=CHARTABLES.C
$ COMPILE MAKETABLES.C
$ COMPILE GET.C
$ COMPILE STUDY.C
$! I had to set POSIX_MALLOC_THRESHOLD to 10 in PCRE.H since the symbol
$! did not seem to be defined anywhere.
$! I edited pcre.h and added #DEFINE SUPPORT_UTF8 to enable UTF8 support.
$ COMPILE PCRE.C
$ LIB/CREATE PCRE MAKETABLES.OBJ, GET.OBJ, STUDY.OBJ, PCRE.OBJ
$! I had to set POSIX_MALLOC_THRESHOLD to 10 in PCRE.H since the symbol
$! did not seem to be defined anywhere.
$ COMPILE PCREPOSIX.C
$ LIB/CREATE PCREPOSIX PCREPOSIX.OBJ
$ COMPILE PCRETEST.C
$ LINK/EXE=PCRETEST.EXE PCRETEST.OBJ, PCRE/LIB, PCREPOSIX/LIB
$! C programs that want access to command line arguments must be
$! defined as a symbol
$ PCRETEST :== "$ SYS$ROADSUSERS:[DMOONEY.REGEXP]PCRETEST.EXE"
$! Arguments must be enclosed in quotes.
$ PCRETEST "-C"
$! Test results:
$! The test results did not match 100%. The functions isprint(), iscntrl(),
$! isgraph() and ispunct() on OpenVMS must not produce the same results
$! as the system that built the test output files provided with the
$! The study size did not match and was always 3 less on OpenVMS.
$! Locale could not be set to fr
BUILDING PCRE ON STRATUS OPENVOS
These notes on the port of PCRE to VOS (lightly edited) were supplied by
Ashutosh Warikoo, whose email address has the local part awarikoo and the
domain nse.co.in. The port was for version 7.9 in August 2009.
1. Building PCRE
I built pcre on OpenVOS Release 17.0.1at using GNU Tools 3.4a without any
problems. I used the following packages to build PCRE:
Please read and follow the instructions that come with these packages. To start
the build of pcre, from the root of the package type:
2. Installing PCRE
Once you have successfully built PCRE, login to the SysAdmin group, switch to
the root user, and type
[ !create_dir (master_disk)>usr --if needed ]
[ !create_dir (master_disk)>usr>local --if needed ]
This installs PCRE and its man pages into /usr/local. You can add
(master_disk)>usr>local>bin to your command search paths, or if you are in
BASH, add /usr/local/bin to the PATH environment variable.
This port requires readline library optionally. However during the build I
faced some yet unexplored errors while linking with readline. As it was an
optional component I chose to disable it.
5. Known Problems
I ran the test suite, but you will have to be your own judge of whether this
command, and this port, suits your purposes. If you find any problems that
appear to be related to the port itself, please let me know. Please see the
build.log file in the root of the package also.
BUILDING PCRE ON NATIVE Z/OS AND Z/VM
z/OS and z/VM are operating systems for mainframe computers, produced by IBM.
The character code used is EBCDIC, not ASCII or Unicode. In z/OS, UNIX APIs and
applications can be supported through UNIX System Services, and in such an
environment PCRE can be built in the same way as in other systems. However, in
native z/OS (without UNIX System Services) and in z/VM, special ports are
required. For details, please see this web site:
There is also a mirror here:
Last Updated: 14 May 2013