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How to build the software

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This page just explains how to build the software needed for OpenSPIM. For an overview of the source code, please have a look at this page.

Obtaining the source code

The easy way

First, make sure you have your camera driver installed!

You first need to install the newest Microsoft SDK and then Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2010 (see this link to find out why).

Note: You must install the SDK first. Please see Micro-Manager's build environment setup instructions for details.

Download & run the OpenSPIM development environment installer (it is actually a self-extracting archive, you can use 7-Zip to extract the archive instead if you feel uncomfortable with an installer).

This will set up everything you need and perform the initial build.

It will also install the OpenSPIM Dev Env shortcut on your desktop so you can easily start the development environment again.

Note: this installer will clone and download additional packages, at the time of writing totaling to about 450 megabyte. You have been warned.


First, make sure you have your camera driver installed!

Note: this section is intended primarily to describe what the development environment installer does. However, you are welcome to follow these steps, if you really must.

You need Git

First of all, you need to make sure that you have the version control software Git installed. If in doubt, just install Git for Windows.

Cloning the Micro-Manager and support sources

Wherever you like, e.g. in your home directory, call these commands:

  1. git clone git://
  2. git clone git://

Install Microsoft Visual Studio

You need a copy of the Microsoft Visual Studio. Please follow the instructions on the µManager Wiki.


Make sure that the environment variable JAVA_HOME is set and points to a valid JDK (you can add environment variables by right-clicking on the "Start" menu button, choosing "Open Windows Explorer", opening the context menu of "My Computer", selecting "Properties" and in the "Advanced mode" click on the "Environment variables" button. You need to restart the Visual Studio after adding the environment variable).

Building Micro-Manager

After installing Visual C++ Express 2010, start the development environment via the OpenSPIM Dev Env desktop icon created by the development environment installer. Launch Visual Studio by calling

and then open the µManager project via File>Open>Project/Solution.... The file to load is located in <development-environment>\src\micromanager and is called micromanager.sln.

Build all of the software by clicking on Build>Build Solution or by pressing the F7 key.

For full details, see the instructions on the µManager Wiki.

Why Microsoft Visual C++?

There exists an alternative to Microsoft Visual C++ which is not only free, but also Open Source: GNU C++.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to build µManager on Windows with the GNU C++ compiler. The reason is that Microsoft Visual C++ uses an Application Binary Interface (ABI) which predates, and is incompatible with, the standard defined by the C++ consortium, but GNU C++ abides by the standard. All of the shared libraries provided by vendors were compiled for Microsoft Visual C++, though, so linking using GNU C++ is impossible.

Note: even if µManager requires Microsoft Visual Studio, it is sufficient to use the Express version, i.e. the free-of-cost one.

µManager scripting/plugins

One of the coolest things in µManager is the Beanshell Scripting support. You can launch it through the Tools>Script Panel menu item. Those Beanshell scripts can interact with the GUI of µManager through the global gui variable which is actually an instance of org.micromanager.MMStudioMainFrame, and with the MMCore through the global mmc variable which is an instance of mmcorej.CMMCore (the binding to the C++ core).

When prototyping, it is best to start out with Beanshell scripts and once things get polished enough, turn them into µManager plugins. Such plugins are connected to the µManager application through the method setApp() which must be implemented when implementing the org.micromanager.api.MMPlugin interface. This method is passed an instance of org.micromanager.api.ScriptInterface which has a method getMMCore(). Unfortunately, it has no method to retrieve a reference to the MMStudioMainFrame, but you can use the static method getInstance() of said class to retrieve the singleton.

To provide ease of transition between scripting and plugin coding, we do the following in the OpenSPIM plugin: we have two fields, unsurprisingly called mmc and gui, which are initialized in the setApp() method.


See the Frequently Asked Questions.

Further reading

A birds-eye view of the OpenSPIM source code