Public headers are in the Inc folder of the distribution package.


All the functions in the library are in the DirectX C++ namespace.

Note: The Xbox One exclusive application XBoxDDSTextureLoader functions are in the Xbox C++ namespace



MakeSpriteFont - builds .spritefont data files for use with SpriteFont class
XWBTool - builds .xwb XACT-style wave banks for use with WaveBank class


This code is designed to build with Visual Studio 2010, 2012, or 2013. It requires the Windows 8.x SDK for functionality such as the DirectXMath library and the DXGI 1.2 headers. Visual Studio 2012 and 2013 already include the Windows 8.x SDK, but Visual Studio 2010 users must install the standalone Windows 8.1 SDK http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=323507. Details on using the Windows 8.1 SDK with VS 2010 are described on the Visual C++ Team Blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/vcblog/archive/2012/11/23/using-the-windows-8-sdk-with-visual-studio-2010-configuring-multiple-projects.aspx and the required .props files are included in the DirectX Tool Kit package.

These components are designed to work without requiring any content from the DirectX SDK. For details, see "Where is the DirectX SDK"? http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee663275.aspx and "Where is the DirectX SDK (2013 Edition)?" http://blogs.msdn.com/b/chuckw/archive/2013/07/01/where-is-the-directx-sdk-2013-edition.aspx

HLSL shaders

The distribution package comes with a set of Src\Shader\*.inc files containing the compiled HLSL shaders which are included into the DirectXTK static library. They can be rebuilt if using a newer HLSL FXC.EXE or if the .fx or .hlsl files in the library are modified.

Open a Developer Command Prompt (installed with Visual Studio), and change to the directory containing CompileShaders.cmd (i.e. ...\DirectXTK\Src\Shaders)

Enter the following command-line after changing to the appropriate directory:

Then rebuild the DirectXTK library to update with the latest version of the shaders.

Xbox One XDK

Xbox One exclusive application developers using the Xbox One XDK need to generate the Src\Shaders\Compiled\XboxOne*.inc files to build the library as they are not included in the distribution package. They should be generated with the matching FXC compiler from the Xbox One XDK. While they will continue to work if outdated, a mismatch will cause runtime compilation overhead that would otherwise be avoided.

Open a Xbox One XDK Command Prompt, and change to the directory containing CompileShaders.cmd (i.e. ...\DirectXTK\Src\Shaders)

Enter the following command-line after changing to the appropriate directory:
CompileShaders xbox

Then build the Xbox One XDK version of the DirectXTK library.

Adding to a VS project

In your application's solution, right-click on the Solution and use "Add \ Existing Project..." to add the appropriate .vcxproj file to your solution.
  • DirectXTK_Windows81 is for Windows Store apps building with VS 2013 targeting Windows 8.1 / RT 8.1
  • DirectXTK_Windows8 is for Windows Store apps building with VS 2012 targeting Windows 8 / RT
  • DirectXTK_WindowsPhone81 is for Windows phone 8.1 apps building with VS 2013 Update 2 or later.
  • DirectXTK_WindowsPhone8 is for Windows phone 8 apps building with VS 2012 or VS 2013 and the Windows Phone 8.0 SDK
  • DirectXTK_Desktop_2013 is for Win32 desktop applications building with the VS 2013 Express for Desktop, VS 2013 Professional or higher
  • DirectXTK_Desktop_2012 is for Win32 desktop applications building with VS 2012 Express for Desktop, VS 2012 Professional or higher
  • DirectXTK_Desktop_2010 is for Win32 desktop applications building with VS 2010 using the Windows 8.1 SDK
  • DirectXTK_XboxOneXDK is for Xbox One exclusive applications building with VS 2012 using the Xbox One XDK
  • DirectXTK_XboxOneADK is for Xbox One hub apps building with VS 2012 using the Xbox One ADK
In your application's project, right-click on the Project and use "References...", then "Add New Reference...", and then check the DirectXTK project name and click OK. For a Windows Store app, you need to set Reference Assembly Output to false since DirectXTK is a static C++ library and not a WinRT component.

In your application's project settings, on the "C++ / General" page set Configuration to "All Configurations", set Platform to "All Plaforms", and then add the path $(SolutionDir)\DirectXTK\inc; to the Additional Include Directories properties. Click Apply.

When using VS 2010 with the Windows 8.x SDK, or when using VS 2012 with the Windows 8.1 SDK, you'll need to apply the correct .props files to your projects as well as use the correct DirectXTK project. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/vcblog/archive/2012/11/23/using-the-windows-8-sdk-with-visual-studio-2010-configuring-multiple-projects.aspx

See Audio for additional information when setting up Win32 desktop projects to use DirectXTK for Audio.


Content pipeline

To use the Visual Studio 2012 & 2013 graphics assets tools in the build system, be sure to add them to your project. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh972446.aspx

The graphics assets tools are not present in the Express editions of Visual Studio 2012. They are present in the Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows edition, but not in VS 2013 Express for Windows Desktop.

Note: When adding .spritefont, .sdkmesh, or .xwb files to your Windows Store app or Windows phone app project, you need to manually set the file properties to "Content: Yes" for all configurations to have these files included in your AppX package. .dds files and other image file formats are automatically detected as a media file and are included as content by default.

Error handling

DirectXTK makes use of C++ exception handling which should be enabled by the application via the /EHsc compiler switch. In Visual Studio, this is set in the project settings under "C++ / Code Generation" with Enable C++ Exceptions set to "Yes (/EHsc)" for all configurations.


Smart-pointers and reference counting

DirectXTK encourages and makes use of a number of smart-pointers to simplify resource lifetime tracking.
  • std::unique_ptr - A smart-pointer that has exactly one 'owner' of the memory
  • std::shared_ptr - A smart-pointer that tracks memory use with reference counting
  • Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr - A COM smart-pointer for reference count management very similar to ATL's CComPtr


Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr is a C++ template smart-pointer for COM objects that is used extensively in WinRT programming. It also works in Win32 desktop applications as well. It is similar to ATL's CComPtr with some useful improvements. Microsoft::WRL:::ComPtr is in the Windows 8.x SDK, which, unlike ATL, is available when using the Express versions of Visual Studio. It is used extensively in DirectXTK to properly handle COM reference counting maintenance.


Whenever you need to obtain a raw pointer from a ComPtr, use .Get()

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Device> device;

Generally, if you are creating a fresh ComPtr and then using a COM creation function or factory, you can use.GetAddressOf() since you know the ComPtr is initially null.

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Device> device;
hr = D3D11CreateDevice( ..., device.GetAddressOf(), ... );

If you are using a ComPtr as a class member, then you should use .ReleaseAndGetAddressOf() to ensure any existing object reference is properly released. The operator overload for & does the same thing as .ReleaseAndGetAddressOf(), but the explicit use of the method name is clearer in code.

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Device> m_device;
hr = D3D11CreateDevice( ..., device.ReleaseAndGetAddressOf(), ... );

Note that ATL's CComPtr asserted that the object was always null for operator&, which had a potential to cause resource leaks.

Last edited Apr 3 at 8:12 PM by walbourn, version 76