As you can probably tell, manual coding of C extensions can become fairly involved (this is almost inevitable in C language work). I’ve introduced the basics in this chapter thus far so that you understand the underlying structure. But today, C extensions are usually better and more easily implemented with a tool that generates all the required integration glue code automatically. There are a variety of such tools for use in the Python world, including SIP, SWIG, and Boost.Python; we’ll explore alternatives at the end of this chapter. Among these, the SWIG system is widely used by Python developers.
SWIG—the Simplified Wrapper and Interface Generator, is an open source system created by Dave Beazley and now developed by its community, much like Python. It uses C and C++ type declarations to generate complete C extension modules that integrate existing libraries for use in Python scripts. The generated C (and C++) extension modules are complete: they automatically handle data conversion, error protocols, reference-count management, and more.
That is, SWIG is a program that automatically generates all the glue code needed to plug C and C++ components into Python programs; simply run SWIG, compile its output, and your extension work is done. You still have to manage compilation and linking details, but the rest of the C extension task is largely performed by SWIG.
To use SWIG, instead of writing the C code in the prior section, ...