(You may browse this at https://github.com/ocornut/imgui/blob/master/docs/BACKENDS.md or view this file with any Markdown viewer)
The backends/ folder contains backends for popular platforms/graphics API, which you can use in your application or engine to easily integrate Dear ImGui. Each backend is typically self-contained in a pair of files: imgui_impl_XXXX.cpp + imgui_impl_XXXX.h.
The ‘Platform’ backends are in charge of: mouse/keyboard/gamepad inputs, cursor shape, timing, windowing.
e.g. Windows (imgui_impl_win32.cpp), GLFW (imgui_impl_glfw.cpp), SDL2 (imgui_impl_sdl.cpp), etc.
The ‘Renderer’ backends are in charge of: creating atlas texture, rendering imgui draw data.
e.g. DirectX11 (imgui_impl_dx11.cpp), OpenGL/WebGL (imgui_impl_opengl3.cpp, Vulkan (imgui_impl_vulkan.cpp, etc.
For some high-level frameworks, a single backend usually handle both ‘Platform’ and ‘Renderer’ parts.
e.g. Allegro 5 (imgui_impl_allegro5.cpp), Marmalade (imgui_impl_marmalade.cpp). If you end up creating a custom backend for your engine, you may want to do the same.
An application usually combines 1 Platform backend + 1 Renderer backend + main Dear ImGui sources. For example, the example_win32_directx11 application combines imgui_impl_win32.cpp + imgui_impl_dx11.cpp. There are 20+ examples in the examples/ folder. See EXAMPLES.MD for details.
Dear ImGui is highly portable and only requires a few things to run and render, typically:
Extra features are opt-in, our backends try to support as many as possible:
This is essentially what each backends are doing + obligatory portability cruft. Using default backends ensure you can get all those features including the ones that would be harder to implement on your side (e.g. multi-viewports support).
It is important to understand the difference between the core Dear ImGui library (files in the root folder) and backends which we are describing here (backends/ folder).
See “Getting Started” section of EXAMPLES.MD for more details.
In the backends/ folder:
List of Platforms Backends:
imgui_impl_android.cpp ; Android native app API imgui_impl_glfw.cpp ; GLFW (Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.) http://www.glfw.org/ imgui_impl_osx.mm ; macOS native API (not as feature complete as glfw/sdl backends) imgui_impl_sdl.cpp ; SDL2 (Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android) https://www.libsdl.org imgui_impl_win32.cpp ; Win32 native API (Windows) imgui_impl_glut.cpp ; GLUT/FreeGLUT (this is prehistoric software and absolutely not recommended today!)
List of Renderer Backends:
imgui_impl_dx9.cpp ; DirectX9 imgui_impl_dx10.cpp ; DirectX10 imgui_impl_dx11.cpp ; DirectX11 imgui_impl_dx12.cpp ; DirectX12 imgui_impl_metal.mm ; Metal (with ObjC) imgui_impl_opengl2.cpp ; OpenGL 2 (legacy, fixed pipeline <- don't use with modern OpenGL context) imgui_impl_opengl3.cpp ; OpenGL 3/4, OpenGL ES 2, OpenGL ES 3 (modern programmable pipeline) imgui_impl_vulkan.cpp ; Vulkan imgui_impl_wgpu.cpp ; WebGPU
List of high-level Frameworks Backends (combining Platform + Renderer):
Emscripten is also supported. The example_emscripten_opengl3 app uses imgui_impl_sdl.cpp + imgui_impl_opengl3.cpp, but other combos are possible.
See https://github.com/ocornut/imgui/wiki/Bindings for the full list.
If you are not sure which backend to use, the recommended platform/frameworks for portable applications:
|Sokol||https://github.com/floooh/sokol||util/sokol_imgui.h||Lower-level than GLFW/SDL|
You will likely be tempted to start by rewrite your own backend using your own custom/high-level facilities...
If you are new to Dear ImGui, first try using the existing backends as-is. You will save lots of time integrating the library. You can LATER decide to rewrite yourself a custom backend if you really need to. In most situations, custom backends have less features and more bugs than the standard backends we provide. If you want portability, you can use multiple backends and choose between them either at compile time or at runtime.
Example A: your engine is built over Windows + DirectX11 but you have your own high-level rendering system layered over DirectX11.
Suggestion: try using imgui_impl_win32.cpp + imgui_impl_dx11.cpp first. Once it works, if you really need it you can replace the imgui_impl_dx11.cpp code with a custom renderer using your own rendering functions, and keep using the standard Win32 code etc.
Example B: your engine runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and uses DirectX11, Metal, Vulkan respectively.
Suggestion: use multiple generic backends! Once it works, if you really need it you can replace parts of backends with your own abstractions.
Example C: your engine runs on platforms we can't provide public backends for (e.g. PS4/PS5, Switch), and you have high-level systems everywhere.
Suggestion: try using a non-portable backend first (e.g. win32 + underlying graphics API) to get your desktop builds working first. This will get you running faster and get your acquainted with how Dear ImGui works and is setup. You can then rewrite a custom backend using your own engine API.
Also: The multi-viewports feature of the ‘docking’ branch allows Dear ImGui windows to be seamlessly detached from the main application window. This is achieved using an extra layer to the Platform and Renderer backends, which allows Dear ImGui to communicate platform-specific requests such as: “create an additional OS window”, “create a render context”, “get the OS position of this window” etc. See ‘ImGuiPlatformIO’ for details. Supporting the multi-viewports feature correctly using 100% of your own abstractions is more difficult than supporting single-viewport. If you decide to use unmodified imgui_impl_XXXX.cpp files, you can automatically benefit from improvements and fixes related to viewports and platform windows without extra work on your side.