vulkan: Bindings to the Vulkan graphics API.

[ bsd3, graphics, library ] [ Propose Tags ]

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Versions [faq],,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 3.3, 3.3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.6.1, 3.6.2, 3.6.3, 3.6.4, 3.6.5, 3.6.6, 3.6.7, 3.6.8, 3.6.9, 3.6.10 (info)
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Dependencies base (<4.15), bytestring, transformers, vector [details]
License BSD-3-Clause
Maintainer Joe Hermaszewski <>
Category Graphics
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Source repo head: git clone
Uploaded by jophish at 2020-10-12T12:55:25Z
Distributions NixOS:3.6.10
Downloads 9944 total (1443 in the last 30 days)
Rating 2.5 (votes: 6) [estimated by Bayesian average]
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Derive Generic instances for all structs. Disabled by default because of code size and compile time impact.


Do not mark foreign imports as unsafe. This means that callbacks from Vulkan to Haskell will work. If you are using these then make sure this flag is enabled.


Use -f <flag> to enable a flag, or -f -<flag> to disable that flag. More info


Maintainer's Corner

For package maintainers and hackage trustees

Readme for vulkan-3.6.10

[back to package description]


Slightly high level Haskell bindings to the Vulkan graphics API.

These bindings present an interface to Vulkan which looks like more idiomatic Haskell and which is much less verbose than the C API. Nevertheless, it retains access to all the functionality. If you find something you can do in the C bindings but not in these high level bindings please raise an issue.

Practically speaking this means:

  • No fiddling with vkGetInstanceProcAddr or vkGetDeviceProcAddr to get function pointers, this is done automatically on instance and device creation<sup>1</sup>.

  • No setting the sType member, this is done automatically.

  • No passing length/pointer pairs for arrays, Vector is used instead<sup>2</sup>.

  • No passing pointers for return values, this is done for you and multiple results are returned as elements of a tuple.

  • No checking VkResult return values for failure, a VulkanException will be thrown if a Vulkan command returns an error VkResult.

  • No manual memory management for command parameters or Vulkan structs. You'll still have to manage buffer and image memory yourself however.

Package structure

Types and functions are placed into modules according to the features and extensions portions of the specification. As these sections only mention functions, a best guess has to be made for types. Types and constants are drawn in transitively according to the dependencies of the functions.

It should be sufficient to import Vulkan.CoreXX along with Vulkan.Extensions.{whatever extensions you want}. You might want to import Vulkan.Zero too.

These bindings are intended to be imported qualified and do not feature the Vk prefixes on commands, structures, members or constants.

Things to know

  • Documentation is included more or less verbatim from the Vulkan C API documentation. The parameters it references might not map one-to-one with what's in these bindings. It should be obvious in most cases what it's trying to say. If part of the documentation is misleading or unclear with respect to these Haskell bindings please open an issue and we can special case a fix.

    • The haddock documentation can be browsed on Hackage or here
  • Parameters are named with the ::: operator where it would be useful; this operator simply ignores the string on the left.

  • There exists a Zero type class defined in Vulkan.Zero. This is a class for initializing values with all zero contents and empty arrays. It's very handy when initializing structs to use something like zero { only = _, members = _, i = _, care = _, about = _ }.

  • The library is compiled with -XStrict so expect all record members to be strict (and unboxed when they're small)

  • Calls to Vulkan are marked as unsafe by default to reduce FFI overhead.

    • This can be changed by setting the safe-foreign-calls flag.
    • It means that Vulkan functions are unable to safely call Haskell code. See the Haskell wiki for more information. This is important to consider if you want to write allocation or debug callbacks in Haskell.
    • It's also means that the garbage collector will not run while these calls are in progress. For some blocking functions (those which can return VK_TIMEOUT and those with wait in the name) a safe version is also provided with the Safe suffix.
  • As encouraged by the Vulkan user guide, commands are linked dynamically (with the sole exception of vkGetInstanceProcAddr).

    • The function pointers are attached to any dispatchable handle to save you the trouble of passing them around.
    • The function pointers are retrieved by calling vkGetInstanceProcAddr and vkGetDeviceProcAddr. These are stored in two records InstanceCmds and DeviceCmds which store instance level and device level commands respectively. These tables can be initialized with the initInstanceCmds and initDeviceCmds found in Vulkan.Dynamic.
  • There are nice Read and Show instances for the enums and bitmasks. These will, where possible, print and parse the pattern synonyms. For example one can do the following:

  • Make sure that all the functions you're going to use are not nullPtr in InstanceCmds or DeviceCmds before calling them or the command will throw an IOException. The *Cmds records can be found inside any dispatchable handle.

Minor things

  • To prevent a name clash between the constructors of VkClearColorValue and VkPerformanceCounterResultKHR the latter have had Counter suffixed.

  • To prevent a name clash between the constructors of DeviceOrHostAddressKHR and DeviceOrHostAddressConstKHR the latter have had Const suffixed.

How the C types relate to Haskell types

These bindings take advantage of the meta information present in the specification detailing the validity of structures and arguments.

  • Vector is used in place of pointers to arrays with associated length members/parameters. When interfacing with Vulkan these bindings automatically set the length member/parameter properly. If the vector is optional but the length is not then the length member/parameter is preserved, but will be inferred if the vector is present and the length is 0.

  • If a struct member or command parameters in the specification is a optional pointer (it may be null) this is replaced with a Maybe value.

  • If a struct has a member which can only have one possible value (the most common example is the sType member, then this member is elided.

  • C strings become ByteString. This is also the case for fixed length C strings, the library will truncate overly long strings in this case.

  • Pointers to void accompanied by a length in bytes become ByteString

  • Shader code is represented as ByteString

  • VkBool32 becomes Bool

  • Some Vulkan commands or structs take several arrays which must be the same length. These are currently exposed as several Vector arguments which must be the same length. If they are not the same length an exception is thrown.

If anything is unclear please raise an issue. The marshaling to and from Haskell and C is automatically generated and I've not checked every single function. It's possible that there are some commands or structs which could be represented better in Haskell, if so please also raise an issue.

Vulkan errors

If a Vulkan command has the VkResult type as a return value, this is checked and a VulkanException is thrown if it is not a success code. If the only success code a command can return is VK_SUCCESS then this is elided from the return type. If a command can return other success codes, for instance VK_EVENT_SET then the success code is exposed.

Bracketing commands

There are certain sets commands which must be called in pairs, for instance the create and destroy commands for using resources. In order to facilitate safe use of these commands, (i.e. ensure that the corresponding destroy command is always called) these bindings expose similarly named commands prefixed with with (for Create/Destroy and Allocate/Free pairs) or use for (Begin/End pairs). If the command is used in command buffer building then it is additionally prefixed with cmd.

These are higher order functions which take as their last argument a consumer for a pair of create and destroy commands. Values which fit this hole include Control.Exception.bracket, Control.Monad.Trans.Resource.allocate and (,).

An example is withInstance which calls createInstance and destroyInstance. Notice how the AllocationCallbacks parameter is automatically passed to the createInstance and destroyInstance command.

  :: forall a m
   . (PokeChain a, MonadIO m)
  => InstanceCreateInfo a
  -> Maybe AllocationCallbacks
  -> m Instance

  :: forall m
   . MonadIO m
  => Instance
  -> Maybe AllocationCallbacks
  -> m ()

  :: forall a m r
   . (PokeChain a, MonadIO m)
  => InstanceCreateInfo a
  -> Maybe AllocationCallbacks
  -> (m Instance -> (Instance -> m ()) -> r)
  -> r

Example usage:

import Control.Monad.Trans.Resource (runResourceT, allocate)
-- Create an instance and print its value
main = runResourceT $ do
  (instanceReleaseKey, inst) <- withInstance zero Nothing allocate
  liftIO $ print inst

-- Begin a render pass, draw something and end the render pass
drawTriangle =
  cmdUseRenderPass buffer renderPassBeginInfo SUBPASS_CONTENTS_INLINE bracket_
    $ do
        cmdBindPipeline buffer PIPELINE_BIND_POINT_GRAPHICS graphicsPipeline
        cmdDraw buffer 3 1 0 0

These pairs of commands aren't explicit in the specification, so a list of them is maintained in the generation code, if you see something missing please open an issue (these pairs are generated in VK/Bracket.hs).

Dual use commands

Certain commands, such as vkEnumerateDeviceLayerProperties or vkGetDisplayModePropertiesKHR, have a dual use. If they are not given a pointer to return an array of results then they instead return the total number of possible results, otherwise they return a number of results. There is an idiom in Vulkan which involves calling this function once with a null pointer to get the total number of queryable values, allocating space for querying that many values and they calling the function again to get the values. These bindings expose commands which automatically return all the results. As an example enumeratePhysicalDevices has the type MonadIO m => Instance -> m (Result, Vector PhysicalDevice).

Structure chains

Most structures in Vulkan have a member called pNext which can be a pointer to another Vulkan structure containing additional information. In these high level bindings the head of any struct chain is parameterized over the rest of the items in the chain. This allows for using type inference for getting struct chain return values out of Vulkan, for example: getPhysicalDeviceFeatures2 :: (PokeChain a, PeekChain a) => PhysicalDevice -> IO (PysicalDeviceFeatures2 a); here the variable a :: [Type] represents the structures present in the chain returned from vkGetPhysicalDeviceFeatures2.

There exists a GADT SomeStruct which captures the case of an unknown tail in the struct chain. This is also used for nested chains inside structs.

Struct chains inside records are represented as nested tuples: next :: (Something, (SomethingElse, (AThirdThing, ())))

There are two pattern synonyms exposed in Vulkan.CStruct.Extends which help in constructing and deconstructing struct chains.

  • h ::& t which appends the tail t to the struct h
  • t :& ts which constructs a struct extending tail comprising struct t and structs ts. Note that you must terminate the list with ().

For example, to create an instance with a debugUtilsMessenger and the validation layer's best practices output enabled:

makeInst = do
  let debugCreateInfo = _ :: DebugUtilsMessengerCreateInfoEXT
      validationFeatures = ValidationFeaturesEXT [VALIDATION_FEATURE_ENABLE_BEST_PRACTICES_EXT] []
      instanceCreateInfo = zero ::& debugCreateInfo :& validationFeatures :& ()
  createInstance instanceCreateInfo Nothing

And to deconstruct a return value with a struct tail, for example to find out if a physical device supports Timeline Semaphores:

hasTimelineSemaphores phys = do
  _ ::& PhysicalDeviceTimelineSemaphoreFeatures hasTimelineSemaphores :& () <-
    getPhysicalDeviceFeatures2 phys
  pure hasTimelineSemaphores


This package requires GHC 8.6 or higher due to the use of the QuantifiedConstraints language extension.

Make sure you have initialized the VulkanMemoryAllocator submodule if you intend to build the VulkanMemoryAllocator package.

If you provision (the Vulkan loader) with nix and you're not on NixOS, you'll have to use NixGL to run your programs. For this reason it's recommended to use the system-provided

For instructions on how to regenerate the bindings see the readme in ./generate-new.

To build the example programs. You'll need to supply the following system packages:

  • vulkan-loader (for
  • vulkan-headers (for vulkan.h)
  • pkg-config and SDL2 to build the Haskell sdl2 package.
  • glslang (for the glslangValidator binary, to build the shaders)

Jonathan Merritt has made an excellent video detailing how to set up everything necessary for running the examples on macOS here.

Building using Nix

Here is some generally useful information for using the default.nix files in this repo.

default.nix { forShell = false; } evaluates to an attribute set with one attribute for each of the following packages:

  • vulkan, the main package of this repository
  • VulkanMemoryAllocator, bindings to VMA
  • vulkan-utils, a small selection of utility functions for using vulkan
  • vulkan-examples, some examples, this package is dependency-heavy
  • generate-new, the program to generate the source of vulkan and VulkanMemoryAllocator, also quite dependency-heavy (this only build with ghc 8.8).

You may want to pass your <nixpkgs> as pkgs to default.nix to avoid rebuilding a parallel set of haskell packages based on the pegged nixpkgs version in default.nix. It should probably work with a wide range of nixpkgss, however some overrides in default.nix may need tweaking,

Alternatively you could use the Cachix repo which contains the latest closure for the packages in this repo.

nix-build -A vulkan is probably not terribly useful for using the library as it just builds the Haskell library.

nix-build -A vulkan-examples will produce a path with several examples, however to run these on a non-NixOS platform you'll need to use the NixGL project (or something similar) to run these. This isn't something tested very often so may be a little fragile. I'd suggest for non-NixOS platforms compiling without using Nix (or better yet get reliable instructions for using NixGL and open a PR).

This library is currently up to date on nixpkgs master (as of 2020-06-23), so if you're just a consumer it might be best to just use haskellPackages.vulkan from a recent version there.

For using this repository, I have two workflows:

  • For building and running examples

    • I navigate to the examples directory and use the default.nix expression in there to provision a shell with the correct dependencies for the examples.
    • I also make a cabal.project containing packages: ./, the reason for this little dance instead of just using the root's default.nix is so that nix builds the hoogle database for the dependencies and HIE's completion and indexing works much better for external dependencies instead of using a multi-package project as is the root.
    • This will override nixpkgs's vulkan and VulkanMemoryAllocator libraries with the ones in the repo, as well as building vulkan-utils.
  • For modifying the generation program I navigate to the generate-new directory and run nix-shell .. to use default.nix in the repo's root to provision a shell with:

    • The dependencies for running the generator
    • And the dependencies for compiling the vulkan source it spits out.
    • I run the generator with ghci $(HIE_BIOS_OUTPUT=/dev/stdout ./ $(pwd)/vk/Main.hs) vk/Main.hs +RTS -N16

For using the source in this package externally it may be easiest to do whatever you do to get a haskell environment with nix and simply override the source to point to this repo, the dependencies haven't changed for a while, so any version of nixpkgs from the last 3 months should do the trick.

Building on Windows

  • Clone this repo
  • Install stack
  • Make sure your graphics driver has installed vulkan-1.dll in C:/windows/system32
  • Install the LunarG Vulkan SDK
    • Remember the installation directory, use in place of C:/VulkanSDK/ below
    • We will link against vulkan-1.lib from this installation
    • We will use the glslangValidator from this installation, make sure it's in your PATH or otherwise made available to stack
  • Install the system dependencies via stack
    • pkg-config
    • SDL2
    • stack exec -- pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-pkg-config mingw-w64-x86_64-SDL2
    • Note that the above command will also install mingw's libvulkan-1.dll, I had trouble getting things to run with this dll, so make sure you're linking to the windows SDK installed earlier instead.
  • Build the packages
    • stack --extra-lib-dirs C:/VulkanSDK/ build
  • Run an example program
    • stack --extra-lib-dirs C:/VulkanSDK/ run resize


There exists a package to build some example programs in the examples directory.

Current Status

All the core Vulkan 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 functionality is here as well as all the extensions.

This is currently a 64 bit only library.

See also

The VulkanMemoryAllocator package (source in the VulkanMemoryAllocator directory) has similarly styled bindings to the Vulkan Memory Allocator library.

The vulkan-utils package (not currently on Hackage) includes a few utilities for writing programs using these bindings.

For an alternative take on Haskell bindings to Vulkan see the vulkan-api package. vulkan-api stores Vulkan structs in their C representation as ByteArray# whereas this library allocates structs on the stack and keeps them alive for just the lifetime of any Vulkan command call.

<a name="fun-ptr">1</a>: Note that you'll still have to request any required extensions for the function pointers belonging to that extension to be populated. An exception will be thrown if you try to call a function pointer which is null.

<a name="opt-vec">2</a>: The exception is where the spec allows the application to pass NULL for the vector with a non-zero count. In these cases it was deemed clearer to preserve the "count" member and allow the Haskell application to pass a zero-length vector to indicate NULL.