The path to the web.

img In my last post I showed the effects of various methods of filesystem::path. It occurred to me that it might be a fun little project to generate a web-based interactive version of the post.

Since I didn’t want to reimplement filesystem::path in Javascript, this would be a good chance to try emscripten, something that I’ve been meaning to do for some time:

Emscripten is an LLVM-based project that compiles C and C++ into highly-optimizable JavaScript in asm.js format. This lets you run C and C++ on the web at near-native speed, without plugins.

I needed emscripten to use a compiler and standard library that supports std::filesystem::path. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the current version of the emscripten compiler and library do not support std::filesystem::path nor std::experimental::filesystem::path.

Since std::filesystem is based on The Boost Filesystem Library, perhaps I could emulate std::filesystem using an emscriptened version of Boost.

Fortunately, the chronotext-boost project provides wide cross-platform support for Boost (1.58) on iOS, Android and Emscripten (to name a few). The Wiki is relatively straight forward, and using emscripten portable I had the emscriptened Boost samples running in the browser pretty quickly.


Since I only wanted to expose a few methods of std::filesystem::path, I chose the embind approach.
Here is the full C++ code:

#include <string>
#include <emscripten/bind.h>
#include <boost/filesystem.hpp>

using namespace emscripten;
namespace fs = boost::filesystem;

#define PATH_FUNC(func_name)                  \
std::wstring func_name(std::wstring const& p) \ 
{ return fs::path(p).func_name().wstring(); }   

PATH_FUNC(remove_filename); // in this context, remove_filename is equivalent to parent_path()

// register exported functions
  function("root_name", &root_name);
  function("root_directory", &root_directory);
  function("root_path", &root_path);
  function("relative_path", &relative_path);
  function("parent_path", &parent_path);
  function("filename", &filename);
  function("stem", &stem);
  function("extension", &extension);
  function("remove_filename", &remove_filename);

Code Considerations

As seen in the code, the functions are all stateless (and macro-generated identically), taking in a string and returning a string. Conversions to and from std::filesystem::path are done inside the functions so that std::filesystem::path instances are not exported or exposed.

I decided to go with stand-alone functions since wrapping std::filesystem::path with another class, or even exporting it itself, would require the user on the JS side to new the class and then remember to .delete() it. Access to the functions on the Javascript side is done via e.g. Module.filename() so it still looks and feels like method access sans the memory management.

I used std::wstring since this allows me to seamlessly and natively support Javascript’s Unicode strings.

Note also that the Boost version of boost::filesystem::path built with emscripten is a Linux based one and ths gives slightly different results with OS-specific things like root names. So although the Windows version will identify C:\ as the root path, this Linuxy-build version will not.

Throw in a little JavaScript and I give you Empath the emscriptened path:


Enter your path here and behold the magic of C++ and Javascript!

Newer versions of emscripten will also generate WebAssembly, which is gaining support with newer versions of most browsers. This makes the web another target platform for C++ that should not be overlooked when performance is at a premium.

I ❤ your feedback so do use the comments below, Twitter or Reddit.

Acknowledgments: banner :: chronotext-boost

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