Cmake & Python Export


We use cmake to build NGSolve, therefore we recommend, that you set up your extension using cmake as well. First we add NGSolve as a dependency and give the default install dirs as hints:


cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.1)

find_package(NGSolve CONFIG REQUIRED
  HINTS /usr $ENV{NETGENDIR}/.. /tmp/inst/usr /opt/netgen/ /Applications/ C:/netgen

then we create our extension library myngspy which contains all the cpp files we will create in this tutorial:

add_ngsolve_python_module(myngspy myngspy.cpp
  1_myFEM/myElement.cpp 1_myFEM/myFESpace.cpp
  1_myFEM/myPreconditioner.cpp 1_myFEM/myCoefficient.cpp
  2_myHOFEM/myHOFESpace.cpp 2_myHOFEM/myHOElement.cpp
  4_utility_functions/demo_coupling.cpp 4_utility_functions/myAssembling.cpp

We recommend, that you set the default install (if CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX is not set by the user) dir to the NGSolve install dir, then the include paths and the PYTHONPATH will be set correctly:

  execute_process(COMMAND ${PYTHON_EXECUTABLE} -c "import site; print(site.USER_SITE)" OUTPUT_VARIABLE install_dir OUTPUT_STRIP_TRAILING_WHITESPACE)
  set(CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX ${install_dir} CACHE PATH "Install dir" FORCE)

message("The python package will be installed to: ${CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX}")
install(TARGETS myngspy DESTINATION .)

Thats all you need to build your extension! :)

Python Export

We use Pybind11 to export C++ classes to Python. With pybind we create a Python module with wrapper classes and functions to access the C++ code. Note that this is only a very short introduction and focused on NGSolve classes, for a more detailed introduction into C++ binding have a look at the Pybind11 documentation . In your project there must be one .cpp file defining the macro PYBIND11_MODULE with the module name and the variable the module will be stored in. We recommend importing the NGSolve module here, then the dependencies on the NGSolve classes will be available.

PYBIND11_MODULE(myngspy,m) {
  // import ngsolve such that python base classes are defined

  all the functionality you want to export...

Inside this macro we export all the functions and classes we need. Functions can be defined in two ways, first, if all the arguments and the return value can be directly converted to Python objects (They are either references to exported types or std::shared_ptr to an exported type with holder type std::shared_ptr, or raw pointer to exported types) then the function can simply exported by handing pybind the function pointer.

m.def("SomeFunction", &SomeCppFunction, "some documentation")

the documentation string will be displayed if you call


in Python.

If the arguments can't be directly parsed, or some pre-/post-processing needs to be done before they can be parsed to the C++ function it is possible to do this in a lambda function:

m.def("SomeFunction", [] (First & first,
                          shared_ptr<Second> second,
                          py::object obj)
    shared_ptr<MyExportedObject> myObject;
      myObject = do_some_stuff(first, second);
      auto third = py::cast<shared_ptr<Third>>(obj);
      myObject = do_some_other_stuff(first, second, third);
    return myObject;
  }, arg("first"), arg("second"), arg("third") = py::none(),
  "some documentation");

Note, we can either pass references, shared_ptr or pybind11 objects to our function. Further we can use utility functions from pybind, like py::cast before calling our C++ functions. The shared_ptr return type will be automatically converted to a Python object sharing lifetime with the C++ object. We can additionally name our arguments, so they can be called from Python as keyword arguments and we can prescribe default arguments.

But let's start with some NGSolve stuff, as a first example we will create our own CoefficientFunction ->