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Setting up ARToolKit


At its core, ARToolKit is a collection of software libraries, designed to be linked into application programs. For this reason, ARToolKit is distributed as sourcecode, and you must compile it on your specific operating system and platform. You will need a development environment for your operating system. Free environments are available on all platforms. Build files are also supplied to enable building on Windows in the non-free Microsoft Visual Studio platform.

Although ARToolKit offers similar functions across multiple platforms, installation differs according to your operating system. In this tutorial we will guide you through the configuration process for your specific installation.

Your machine, operating system and platform must satisfy some basic requirements. Your hardware must be able to acquire a video stream, and have spare CPU to handle the tasks of video processing and display. There are also some basic software dependencies - important to avoid compiler and linker errors. The main packages are cross-platform (e.g. OpenGL, GLUT), and others are related to the specific video library for your machine (DirectShow, V4L, QuickTime).

The software dependencies for each supported operating system are outlined below along with installation instructions.


Building on Windows


Prerequisite Instructions
Development environment Microsoft Visual Studio 6 and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 are supported, but it is also possible to build the toolkit using free development environments (e.g. Cygwin,

On Windows, DSVideoLib is used to handle communication with the camera driver. DSVideoLib-0.0.8b or later is required for ARToolKit 2.71.

A source + binary package of DSVideoLib is included on the ARToolKit downloads page on sourceforge.


Verify that GLUT runtime and SDK is installed. If not, you can download a binary package containing GLUT for Windows from

Verify that you have the GLUT runtime installed in your system directory.
e.g. c:\windows\system32

  • glut32.dll

Verify that GLUT SDK is installed in your Visual C++ installation:

  • Include\gl\glut.h
  • Lib\glut32.lib
DirectX Runtime

Verify that DirectX runtime is installed: with Windows XP it is installed by default. You need to check your version; it must be 9.0b or later.

Video input device

Plug your camera or video input into your PC and install any necessary drivers. Verify that your camera has a VFW or WDM driver by running the program amcap.exe (this can be found in the DirectX SDK, in Samples\C++\DirectShow\Bin). Check for your camera in the Devices menu (see Figure 1).

amcap.exe screenshot
Figure 1: amcap Screenshot
(Optional, for VRML renderer only) OpenVRML-0.14.3-win32 A source + binary package of OpenVRML is included on the ARToolKit downloads page on sourceforge.

Building ARToolKit

You can now build ARToolKit. Build steps:

  1. Unpack the ARToolKit zip to a convenient location. This location will be referred to below as {ARToolKit}.
  2. Unpack the DSVideoLib zip into {ARToolKit}. Make sure that the directory is named "DSVL".
  3. Copy the files DSVL.dll and DSVLd.dll from {ARToolKit}\DSVL\bin into {ARToolKit}\bin.
  4. Install the GLUT DLL into the Windows System32 folder, and the library and headers into the VS platform SDK folders.
  5. Run the script {ARToolKit}\Configure.win32.bat to create include/AR/config.h.
  6. Open the ARToolKit.sln file (VS.NET) or ARToolkit.dsw file (VS6).
  7. Build the toolkit.

The VRML renderering library and example (libARvrml & simpleVRML) are optional builds:

  1. Unpack the OpenVRML zip into {ARToolKit}.
  2. Copy js32.dll from {ARToolKit}\OpenVRML\bin into {ARToolKit}\bin.
  3. Enable the libARvrml and simpleVRML projects in the VS configuration manager and build.

Linux / SGI Irix.


Prerequisite Instructions
OpenGL and GLUT Verify that OpenGL and GLUT RunTimes are installed: You need to find,, and, generally in /usr/X11R6/lib, /usr/lib, or /usr/local/lib.

Verify that OpenGL and GLUT SDKs are installed: You need to find opengl.h, glu.h and glut.h, generally in /usr/X11R6/include, /usr/include, or /usr/local/include.

Video Library Verify that your Video Library is installed:

On Linux, V4L RunTime and SDK installed, or dv1394 and dv1394 RunTime and SDK installed.

On SGI, ARToolKit has only been tested with SGI O2 models, but it should work with any SGI machine with similar video input hardware.

(Optional, for VRML renderer only) OpenVRML-0.14.3 A source package of OpenVRML is included on the ARToolKit downloads page on sourceforge.

Building ARToolKit

You can now build ARToolKit. Open a console application.

Unpack the ARToolKit to a convenient location. The root of this location will be referred to below as {ARToolKit}:

tar zxvf ARToolKit-2.71.tgz

Configure and build. The Linux builds support video input using either Video4Linux, an IIDC-compliant or DV camera connected via IEEE-1394, or a Sony EyeToy camera connected via USB. You will be prompted as to which of the four Linux video drivers you wish to use at the Configure step.

cd {ARToolKit}

Linux setup screenshot
Linux Setup Screenshot


Following a successful build, to run a binary such as simpleTest:

cd {ARToolKit}/bin

The VRML renderering library and example (libARvrml & simpleVRML) are optional builds:

cd {ARToolKit}/lib/SRC/ARvrml
cd {ARToolKit}/examples/simpleVRML
cd {ARToolKit}/bin

Mac OS X


Prerequisite Instructions
Apple Developer Tools XCode Tools install CD is included with Mac OS X, or disk image available free from Apple,
Camera driver Mac OS X 10.3 and later include an inbuilt IIDC and DV FireWire camera driver. USB camera drivers (and Firewire camera drivers for pre-10.3 systems) can be obtained from ioXperts at
(Optional, for VRML renderer only) Apple X11 and Fink

Install X11 off the Mac OS X install CD 3 or download an install disk image from

Download Fink (and optionally, FinkCommander) from

Building ARToolKit

Building using the XCode IDE:

  1. Unpack the archive to a convenient location using StuffIt Expander, and open the ARToolKit.xcodeproj.
  2. Builds include a script target "Configure" which enables accelerated and rectangular texturing by default. If you wish to change these defaults, manually run the ./Configure script from Terminal as for a command-line build (below).
  3. Executables are built as bundled applications into ARToolKit/bin, with the Data/ directory copied into the application bundle so that they may be moved from this location to other locations.

The VRML renderering library and example (libARvrml & simpleVRML) are optional builds:

  1. Using FinkCommander, do a binary install of mozilla-dev, followed by an install of openvrml4-dev and openvrml-gl5-dev.
  2. Select the ARToolKit extensions target, and build.

Alternately, ARToolKit can be built from the Terminal, using the Unix makefiles.
Drop the ARToolKit into a convenient location, e.g. your Desktop, then open a Terminal window and type:

cd ~/Desktop
tar zxvf ARToolKit-2.71.tgz

Configure and build

cd ~/ARToolKit

Following a successful build, to run a binary such as simpleTest, add these commands:

cd bin

The VRML renderering library and example (libARvrml & simpleVRML) are optional builds:

fink -b install mozilla-dev
fink install openvrml4-dev openvrml-gl5-dev
cd ~/Desktop/ARToolKit/lib/SRC/ARvrml
cd ~/Desktop/ARToolKit/examples/simpleVRML
cd ~/Desktop/ARToolKit/bin

Running the utilities and examples

Current versions of ARToolKit aren't designed to be installed in any standard location; thethe current compilation directory should be used to build your ARToolKit application. As ARToolKit builds only static libraries, these will be linked into any executable you build.

For using ARToolKit you need to have some markers available: some default markers use with the sample applications are presented on the patterns directory. You can open it (with your pdf reader) and print all of them, it will be useful for your next experiments. ARToolKit needs mainly rigid markers, so a simple solution is to glue them to cardboard (see hardware page for more information). After that you need to test if the graphics part of ARToolKit work with your application. For that run graphicsTest on the bin directory. if it's working a 3D window will be displayed with a rotated teapot:
graphicsTest screenshot
Graphics Test Screenshot
This test confirms that your camera support ARToolKit graphics module with OpenGL. A minimum frame rate of 15 fps is recommended, below performance of ARToolKit rendering module will be too restricted (see FAQ). You need also to test if the video input works and video can be displayed. You need to run the videoTest on the bin directory. if it's working (no error) a window video will be displayed (see figure below).This test confirms that your camera supports ARToolKit video module and ARToolKit graphics module.
videoTest screenshot
Video Test Screenshot
If nothing is displayed on the window, the problem is most likely related to your default camera configuration. (see FAQ).