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Snack v2.2 - a sound toolkit for scripting languages

Kåre Sjölander

Email address:
There are several anti-spam methods between me and anybody trying to contact
me by e-mail. If you don't hear anything try to contact me again. One option
is also to use this forum
which can be used to discuss Snack issues.
Also, please start the subject line with the word "snack" in any e-mail
correspondence in order to clearly indicate that it is an important message.


Snack is a sound processing toolkit designed as an extension
to a scripting language. Snack currently works with the scripting
languages Tcl/Tk, Python, and Ruby.
Snack has commands to play, record, process, and visualize sound.
Snack provides high level sound objects, with flexible storage management,
and streaming support. It handles most common sound file formats.
The visualization canvas item types update in real-time and can output
postscript. The same scripts run on Unix (Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, IRIX,
FreeBSD, NetBSD), Macintosh, and Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP.
Several example scripts can be found in the demos directory.

For more information on Tcl/Tk and Python see

In order to use Snack you must have Tcl and Tk version 8.0 or later. Always 
use the latest stable release, currently 8.4.8, which can be downloaded from

Tcl/Tk is often included with Python distributions. Snack has been tested
with Python 1.5.2 - 2.3 on Linux and Windows. See the Python
section below.

The Snack package has been tested on the following platforms:
Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP
Linux 2.0.35 (OSS 3.5) - 2.4.20-31.9 (OSS 3.8.2/ALSA 0.9.0) (x86 & PowerPC)
SunOS 5.5.1 (Sparc and x86), Solaris 8 (Sparc)
HP-UX B.10.20/11.00
IRIX 6.2, 6.3 & 6.4 (even runs under SoftWindows, although slowly)
NetBSD-current/i386 using the OSS emulation library
Mac OS X, MacOS 8.6 and later

Make sure you have the latest Snack version available at before proceeding with the installation.

Compilation instructions for Snack on Unix (see mac/README for OS X)

You must have Tcl/Tk installed on your system. Both Tcl and Tk must have
been configured with the "--enable-shared" flag at build time (this is 
default for the 8.4 versions). Build them before Snack.

Unpack Snack and change directory to the snack2.2.10/unix directory.

Type "./configure".

If you get this error message "Can't find Tcl configuration definitions",
you have to specify their locations using the options "--with-tcl" and
"--with-tk" when running configure. For example, use 
"--with-tcl=/usr/lib --with-tk=/usr/lib" if Tcl/Tk was
installed in "/usr/lib", or "--with-tcl=../tcl8.4.8/unix" if you use that

Linux users who have the ALSA sound driver installed should specify the configure flag --enable-alsa in order to enable native ALSA support.

Type "make".

If the make fails you will have to edit the Makefile and possibly also the 
configure script. TCL_INCPATH should be the path to the directory which 
contains the Tcl header file (tcl.h). The same goes for TK_INCPATH (tk.h). 
XINCLUDES should be the path to the directory containing the X11 include

If you use Tcl/Tk 8.0 to 8.0.5 you will have to use the flag
--disable-stubs, when configuring Snack.

Summary in case you download Tcl, Tk, and Snack and build from scratch:
You should place the distributions in the same directory and unpack them.
Build Snack using the following commands:
cd tcl8.4.8/unix
./configure --enable-shared
cd ../../tk8.4.8/unix
./configure --enable-shared
cd ../../snack2.2.10/unix


When you have succesfully compiled Snack it's time to look at the demos.
In order to run these you will have to set the environment variable 
TCLLIBPATH to the directory containing the Snack library files (you don't 
need this step if you install Snack as described below). If you have 
compiled Snack in /u/kare/snack2.2.10/unix, this would be:

setenv TCLLIBPATH /u/kare/snack2.2.10/unix

Change to the demos/tcl/ directory and type ./widget.tcl:

cd ../demos/tcl/

this runs the Snack widget demonstration.

You should also try the Snack test suite. Type:

make test

in the build directory. You should then see a printout of the test files
processed. If any errors occur, you'll see a much more substantial printout
for each error. Please report any problems to the author.

System wide installation

The recommended installation directory is the standard Tcl package directory. 
You can determine this by typing:

puts $tcl_pkgPath

If you choose this directory you don't have to set the TCLLIBPATH variable.
Edit the Makefile if necessary. SNACK_INSTALL_PATH should be the path to the 
directory where you want to install the Snack package (e.g. /usr/local/lib).

Install using:

make install

Compilation instructions for Snack on Windows

The MSVC++ 6.0 workspace and project files necessary to build Snack on Windows
are located in the win directory of the source distribution.

In order to use Snack you will have to install Tcl/Tk 8.4 first.

Snack's project files are set up for use with Tcl installed in C:\Tcl\, it
might be easiest to change such paths by editing all *.dsp files in a text
Don't forget to copy the files snack.tcl and pkgIndex.tcl.dll from the
unix directory to C:\Tcl\lib\snack2.2\ and rename the last file pkgIndex.tcl

Compilation instructions for Snack on Windows using Mingw

Mingw users (gcc for Windows) can now compile Snack under Windows.

The win subdirectory contains a configure script that can be
used to compile snack with Mingw compiled versions of Tcl and Tk.
Users will first need to download Tcl and Tk sources along with
the msys_mingw package from the following URL:

At this point, the DirectX 6 headers and lib files will need
to be downloaded and installed into /mingw/dx6. If you change
the location of the DirectX install, the Makefile will need
to be updated after configure is run.

To build, run the configure script and pass the --with-tcl=DIR and
--with-tk=DIR arguments that correspond to the build directories
for Tcl and Tk. Tcl/Tk 8.4 or newer is required, OGG and NIST
format options are not currently supported with the Mingw build.

The typical configure-make cycle looks like:
./configure --with-tcl=$TCL_DIR --with-tk=$TK_DIR --prefix=$INST_DIR
make install

The above will create a snack directory in $INST_DIR/lib, which should
be the same --prefix that you passed to the Tcl and Tk configure scripts.

Using Snack with Python

Snack must currently be used in conjunction with Tkinter. You need to have a
matching installation of Snack and Tcl. For example, Python 1.5.2 uses
Tcl8.0.5 and Python 1.6-2.3 uses Tcl8.3 on Windows. For Unix you have to
edit Modules/Setup before building Python to specify which Tcl version to use.
The default is Tcl8.0. You can check this by typing the following lines
at the Python prompt:

import Tkinter
Tkinter.Tk().tk.eval('info tclversion')

Snack is accessed using the tkSnack module located in the python directory.
You need to put the file in your Python path. 

Some demos can be found in demos/python/.

Documentation is found in doc/python-man.html

Using Snack with NIST/Sphere file formats

It is possible to configure Snack to create an additional package for
handling the NIST/Sphere file formats. Use the configure options
--with-nist-include and --with-nist-lib to specify the locations of
the corresponding directories of the NIST/Sphere distribution,
which can be downloaded at In the Sphere
distribution you will have to modify the file src/scripts/ and add
the compilation flag to create position independent code in some cases. Look
at the Snack Makefile for these.

On HP-UX with HP cc use: -Ae +z
Linux users should specify platform: 10 (Custom),
compiler flags: -O -Wall -fPIC, architecture: INTEL,and comment the
line "extern char *sys_errlist[];" in nist/src/lib/sp/exit.c
See SphereFile.txt for more info.

Windows users can get a compiled dll at the address
Put it in ..Tcl\lib\Snack2.2 (together with libsnack.dll).

Linux users get a compiled library at the address
Put it in the Snack installation directory (together with

Using Snack with the OGG/Vorbis file format

It is possible to configure Snack to create an additional package for
handling the OGG/Vorbis file format. Use the configure options
--with-ogg-include and --with-ogg-lib to specify the locations of an
existing OGG/Vorbis installation.
More information about OGG/Vorbis available at

Windows users can get a compiled dll at the address
Put libsnackogg.dll in ..Tcl\lib\Snack2.2 (together with libsnack.dll).

Linux users can get a compiled library at the address
Put in the Snack installation directory (together 

When building Ogg/Vorbis from source on Unix note that some modifications
to the Makefiles might be necessary. Specify
"AM_CPPFLAGS=-I$prefix/include" "LDFLAGS=-L$exec_prefix/lib"
to get them to find their own installed headers and libraries.
On Solaris force libvorbis to use the native compiler and add
to prevent the system from using a non-existing alloca.

Dynamic linking problems

(Sun, Linux, and SGI)
The loader must be able to find the "" shared object. You may
have to set the environment variable LD_LIBRARY_PATH to point the directory
where it is located. This variable is a colon separated list of paths which
can be modified using setenv. If you, for example, have compiled Snack in
the directory /u/kare/snack/unix and have the shared objects
and in /usr/local/bin you would use the following command at the 
terminal prompt or in your .cshrc file:

setenv LD_LIBRARY_PATH /u/kare/snack/unix:/usr/local/bin:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH

The corresponding environment variable on HP-UX systems is SHLIB_PATH and 
shared objects use ".sl" as file extension.


Snack is currently licensed under GPL, see the file COPYING.
Contact the author if this kind of license is a problem.
The only reason for GPL is the MPEG decoding code, see jkFormatMP3.c.
If you remove that code it is possible to use a license similar to the one 
Tcl/Tk uses (BSD style) and to include Snack in any software on the same

The following people have contributed code, suggestions, and/or other help.

Roger Lindell
Jonas Beskow
Claude Barras
Alexandre Ferrieux
Daryl Vertigan
David van Leeuwen
Stefan Karnebäck
Simon Arnfield
Magnus Lundeberg
Zhibiao Wu
Qiru Zhou
Philippe Langlais
Dan Ellis
Holger Kanwischer
Egbert Ammicht
Richard Donselius
Seymour Shlien
Leonid Spektor
Frederic Bonnet
Andreas Gustafsson
Jeffrey Hobbs
Johan Dahl
Erhard Rank
Richard Ross-Langley
Uwe Koloska
Kevin Russell
Nicolas Garbe
Tom Wilkason
Jonas Ekeroot
Peter Kabal
Ted Dunning
Andreas Kupries
Erik Allaert
Christian Wegehaupt
Alex Barnes
Steve Davis
Oriol Pique
Athanassios Hatzis
Scott McSpadden
Albert Visagie
Helmut Hissen
Daniel A. Steffen
Hans Werner Strube
David McClosky
Russell Owen
Benjamin Baudoux
Steve Renals
Michel Scheffers
Reinhard Max
Brian Theado
Håkan Melin
Scott T. Silliman
Mo DeJong
Richard Dobson
Alan Schnarr
Lorenzo Seno
Edouard Hinard