Build FieldWorks for Mac

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The port of FieldWorks to Mac is still at an early stage, although we are hopeful that almost all of the work done to port it to Linux will carry over to Mac with very little change.

This page documents the current state of our knowledge about the steps that need to be followed.


We recommend that needed software packages be installed with MacPorts, whenever possible. This makes it much easier to keep things organized and updated. There is a wide range of ports available, and the versions are usually quite recent.

For the MacPorts versions of libraries to be used instead of the built-in ones, several environment variables need to be set. This can be done in ~/.profile (for use in Terminal) as follows:

export CPATH=/opt/local/include${CPATH+:}$CPATH

It's also possible to set them in ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist, making them applicable to all GUI programs, but this will cause the built-in Mac OS apps to use MacPorts libraries rather than the built-in ones they were developed with, which is not recommended and is likely to cause problems.

Install and build dependencies

Install the following MacPorts packages:

  • autoconf autoconf-archive automake libtool
  • mono nant
  • ImageMagick +wmf +jbig +jpeg2
  • icu
  • gtkmm
  • enchant
  • ossp-uuid
  • pccts
  • quilt

Although some of the packages above (eg autoconf) are already installed on the OS, we typically need the MacPorts ones, which are newer, or are needed by add-ons like autoconf-archive.

There is a Mac-native version of GTK which can be installed by substituting the following lines:

  • sudo port install gtkmm +quartz +atsui +no_x11
  • sudo port install ImageMagick +wmf +jbig +jpeg2 +no_x11

However, the Quartz version is a little less mature and may have a few glitches in it, so we recommend starting out with the X11 version.


Building and running FieldWorks requires a special version of mono. So you will need to build mono from source.

Currently there are a couple of problems with MacPorts that require workarounds, although hopefully these will be resolved soon:

  • There is a problem with the atlas port, which is a dependency of py26-numpy. It conflicts with libLAPACK.dylib from /System/Library/Frameworks/. If you have installed either of these two ports (py26-numpy and atlas) yourself, they must be uninstalled before building mono.
  • The MacPorts version of mono crashes when trying to build mono-basic. However, if the mono subdirectory is already built and installed, it's possible to build mono-basic with the newly-installed mono compiler. After checkout-and-build-mono has failed, do the following:
for D in {libgdiplus,mono,mono-basic}/fieldworks-*; do
  make -C $D && sudo make install -C $D


Currently, building FieldWorks fails on Mac:

[writeregistry] Opening LocalMachine:SOFTWARE\SIL\FieldWorks\7.0\
[writeregistry] Setting RootCodeDir to …/fieldworks/DistFiles

Unhandled Exception: System.InvalidCastException: Cannot cast from source type to destination type.
 at System.Threading.Timer+Scheduler.SchedulerThread () [0x0015e] in
 at System.Threading.Thread.StartUnsafe () [0x00016] in

However, this error seems to be a crash in nant itself rather than an error in FieldWorks.