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Is SFML a better choice over SDL?

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I can't tell what to pick when it comes to game development... everyone keeps saying one or the other as being faster, driving me insane!

Does any one have any facts on which one is the better choice for game development ?

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Hmm so other than ease of use and general support for them on line with tutorials why do people swear by one or the other with performance etc? Is it a placebo effect?

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Most of the time when someone swears by one of these libraries over the others it's been better for their specific situation -- which may not apply to you -- or it's simply their personal preference rather than an actual measurable advantage, or in some cases they may simply believe what they've heard from others without any actual basis.

Often benchmarks are very specific or are designed to the strengths of one API rather than another, giving the impression of better performance, but unless your own usage will very closely match the situation that was benchmarked this usually has little meaning for you as a would-be user of the library.

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SFML is under active development. SDL went stagnant a few years back, though it appears it may be getting reactivated again with a new release... but that's not a guarantee.


according to the mailing list; it's for the most part finished, and Sam has stated he could ship it; but has been to busy with working with Valve for Steam on Linux at the moment; and that once he's more settled in it should be much closer to release.

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Yes, but we keep on hearing it's 'almost' finished and 'close' to release - for over 4 years. We may be "closer", but until it actually is released, you can't plan on it. I fully understand things take time and life gets in the way - but when advising people on what to use, I have to add that asterisk to SDL. Don't get me wrong, it's a great API! Edited by Servant of the Lord

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I have a practical situation whereby you might choose one over the other, as I have recently switched from SDL to SFML for a game I am building.

The game is a tile-based RTS, and I had developed it to the point where I had a fully functioning scrollable map + minimap + menu system. I started to use per-pixel alpha with some transition tiles that fade through varying degrees of transparency, and hit a brick wall with SDL's performance with this (a well known limitation of the library).

So I decided to give SFML a try, and converted my map engine to use this library ... and as expected the frame rate more than doubled. I'll be using SFML going forward on this project, due to the requirements of my game.

As others have said, it all depends on what you want to do. For complex alpha transparency, SDL is definitely not the way to go at the moment.

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Note that if you intend to use OpenGL directly for graphics then the peformance of SDL vs SFML in this regard is not relevant, since you'll not be using them for rendering.

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SFML may have a good documentation. But their website has been down for a lot of time, like more than a month, and still is, at least here in Brazil.

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Hmm, yes. I'm now on a different PC, and here It works now that I checked. Last week it was not working neither on the PC on my house or any other...

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Must have been an issue on your end or in your area, or else just extremely bad timing coinciding with much shorter outages, the SFML site hasn't recently had any major downtime like you initially described.

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It hasn't had major downtime, but it has had weird network issues. There have been previous posters on the forum asking if the SFML website was down in the last month.

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[quote name='Servant of the Lord' timestamp='1352165799' post='4997827']
SFML is under active development. SDL went stagnant a few years back, though it appears it may be getting reactivated again with a new release... but that's not a guarantee.


according to the mailing list; it's for the most part finished, and Sam has stated he could ship it; but has been to busy with working with Valve for Steam on Linux at the moment; and that once he's more settled in it should be much closer to release.
[/quote]
I'd say the "close to release" thing went to waste considering it's again in the process of new features getting added =P What's already there should be safe to use though... unless you're developing for a phone, I never tried it there but it seems that on phones there are still some serious issues (not surprising, given that phone apps have a completely different environment than PC programs).

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[quote name='doyleman77' timestamp='1352339935' post='4998693']
[quote name='Servant of the Lord' timestamp='1352165799' post='4997827']
SFML is under active development. SDL went stagnant a few years back, though it appears it may be getting reactivated again with a new release... but that's not a guarantee.


according to the mailing list; it's for the most part finished, and Sam has stated he could ship it; but has been to busy with working with Valve for Steam on Linux at the moment; and that once he's more settled in it should be much closer to release.
[/quote]
I'd say the "close to release" thing went to waste considering it's again in the process of new features getting added =P What's already there should be safe to use though... unless you're developing for a phone, I never tried it there but it seems that on phones there are still some serious issues (not surprising, given that phone apps have a completely different environment than PC programs).
[/quote]

SDL works great on mobile devices iOS and Android, angry birds used it when it was young and seems to be doing alright. I'm currently working on an iOS app using SDL2.0 and OpenGL for my rendering. If anyone has an issue or bug in SDL you need to report it to get a fix. You can even apply fixes yourself by posting it. If you check http://hg.libsdl.org/SDL/ you will see change sets getting added frequently.

Both SFML and SDL are great libraries though. Who knows maybe the OP is still learning so in the end it might not even matter, the experience he will gain will matter more.

Also note great improvement in rendering SDL 2.0 over the old SDL 1.2 or you could use OpenGL.

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This probably isn't the thread for it so pardon me, but I've been using GLFW coupled with GLEW for OpenGL and I couldn't be any more happier. It does everything I want and nothing more. If you can't decide between the two I really suggest giving GLFW a shot

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I've also found GLFW and GLEW to be a decent combination, though on Mac OS X I don't use GLEW since it natively supports the features I need. I have an OpenGL 3+ simple example of using the combo here: https://github.com/dougbinks/glewfw for Mac OS X 10.7+ or Windows.

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