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A Lua, C and asset dependency manager for the Playdate SDK

Project description

MIT License PyPI - Python Version PyPI - Version Python package

A Lua, C and asset dependency manager for the Playdate SDK. lets you easily use, create and share third party libraries, called toyboxes, for any Playdate project. It handles all dependencies between toyboxes automatically and provides precise versioning for each toybox.

Some toyboxes may provide C code, some may provide Lua code or Lua extensions written in C and some may provide just assets. Some toyboxes may provide all three or only two of these, it's completely up to the toybox creator and maintainer.

The main website for the project is at, there is also a blog and you can join the community around the project on its discussions forum.

You can also follow the project on Mastodon or Twitter.

Playdate is a registered trademark of Panic.

Table of Contents

Installation is a pure python project and it requires at least Python 3.7 and access to the git command line tool. is currently in beta and, although it should work on other platforms, it's only been tested on macOS so far. If you are able to help test and maintain the project on Linux or Windows, please reach out.

It's not recommended to use the version of Python, if any, installed on your system. Instead you should install a more recent version of Python locally for your user so that any modifications you make won't affect your entire computer.

You can install by typing the following in a terminal window:

pip install toyboxpy

Usage supports various commands, sometimes with one extra argument:

toybox <command> <argument>

The following commands are supported:

help                 - Show a help message.
help <topic>         - Show a help message on a topic (use 'help topics' for a list).
version              - Get the Toybox version.
info                 - Describe your dependency set.
add <url>            - Add a new dependency.
add <url> <version>  - Add a new dependency with a specific version.
remove <ulr>         - Remove a dependency.
update               - Update all the dependencies.
update <dependency>  - Update a single dependency.
check                - Check for updates.
set <name> <value>   - Set a configuration value for this toybox. should always be run from your project's root directory. Although it doesn't use and git commands directly on your project folder, some git commands that uses do require that your project folder already be a git repo. A simple git init suffices. This also makes it easy for you to also back-track any unwanted changes. creates and uses a local file at the root of your project's directory named Boxfile. You can use the add and remove commands to modify it.

Adding dependencies

The add command takes up to two arguments:

toybox add <url> <version>

The url argument should either be the full url to a git repository which contains the toybox you would like to add, such as or any of the short forms below, which all point to the same repository:

toyboxes do not need to be hosted on Github but, as shown above, if the server url is omitted then Github is assumed.

Adding a dependency with a url which already exists for your project will replace the version used for that dependency.

The version parameter is optional and allows you to select a specific or a range of versions for the toybox but also lets you specify the name of a branch when, for example, using a development version of a given toybox.

To require a specific version, just set version to a valid semver such as '1.4.12'.

You can also require a specific minor version with '1.4' or a specific major version with '1'. In that case, the latest version with the given minor or major version numbers will be used which allows a developer using your toybox to stay up to date with bug fixes or new features without risking an API change from breaking your project.

If you would like to fine tune your version requirement even more, you can instead use up to two comparaison operators in the version argument. For example '>1.2.3 <=3.0.0'. Keep in mind that, here too, valid semver version numbers should be used. Major or minor versions can be still used in combination with comparaisons. For example, a version requirement like '3 <3.9.0' results in all versions higher or equal to 3.0.0 but less than 3.9.0. Supported comparaison operators are >, <, >=, <=.

You can also request a specific branch for any given toybox just by using the name of the branch, as in develop, instead of a version number. In that case, the latest commit from that branch is used when updating.

There may be times, like during development of a toybox, when you'll want to use a local version of a toybox instead of one found on a server. In order to do that, just replace version by the path to the local folder that contains your toybox and then use the update command. This path need to start with either ~ or /. In order to prevent you from committing files that come from a local toybox by mistake, using local toyboxes will also create a pre-commit hook that will prevent you from making any commits while local toyboxes are used.

On macOS and linux, the content of a local toybox is be soft-linked inside your project instead of copied. This way, any modifications you make during development will modify the actual local toybox directly. On Windows, the files from the local toybox are just copied over.

In order to restore everything after using local toyboxes, just add back the regular version and use the update command again.

Finally if no version argument is provided then the default branch for the toybox's repo is used.

Removing dependencies

You can remove a toybox with the remove command:

toybox remove <url>

Updating dependencies

Once you've added or modified a dependency, you can update its content within your project by using the update command:

toybox update <dependency>

The dependency argument used here is the name of the dependency, which is the name of the repo and not its url. If no dependency argument is used then all dependencies are updated.

toybox records the current version of any dependency installed in your project so keep in mind that this may modify the Boxfile for your project.

Checking for updates

You can check to see if any of the toyboxes you use have been updated by using the check command:

toybox check

This will not modify anything within your project, it will just let you know if anything new is available for you.

Using Lua toyboxes

Any toybox will be installed in a subfolder named toyboxes at the root folder of your project. If any of the toyboxes provides Lua code, a file named toyboxes.lua will be created in that folder. All you need to do to start using your toyboxes is import that file anywhere in your project.

Assuming you are using the standard project structure suggested by the Playdate SDK and have your Lua source files in a subfolder named source then you can do this by adding this import statement in any file that uses the toyboxes:

import '../toyboxes/toyboxes.lua'

Note that due to a bug in the pdc app used by the Playdate SDK to process source files, the .lua extension is required here. Once this bug is fixed, this will no longer be needed.

Using C toyboxes

Any toybox will be installed in a subfolder named toyboxes at the root folder of your project. If any of the toyboxes provides C code, a file named and a file named toyboxes.h will be created in that folder.

Assuming your makefile is in your project's root folder, you will need to include this makefile in your own before you include the Playdate SDK's common makefile:

include toyboxes/


include $(SDK)/C_API/buildsupport/

You will then need to call the toyboxes init macro REGISTER_TOYBOXES during the kEventInitLua event and pass it a PlaydateAPI*:

#include "toyboxes.h"

#include "pd_api.h"

int eventHandler(PlaydateAPI* playdate, PDSystemEvent event, uint32_t arg)
    if(event == kEventInitLua) {
    return 0;

If you don't know how to setup your project to use C extensions, you can check out the modplayer-sample project which is a simple project using the C extension toybox named modplayer.

Using assets from toyboxes

If you want, or need, to access a toybox's assets directly they will, if any, be located in a folder named toybox_assets inside the source folder of your project. The folder is organised by toybox URLs so, for example, an asset named MyPic in a toybox named MyRepo from user Usernmame on github will be located at


More often than not, toyboxes will provide Lua methods to access their assets though so you shouldn't need to do this.

Adding the toybox powered badge

If your projects use toyboxes, you can let others know that they are Toybox Powered by adding this badge to your file:

[![Toybox Powered](](

Creating your own toyboxes

Of course the best part of is that anyone can create, distribute and maintain their own toyboxes for others to use. All you need it a git repo (which can be located anywhere on the internet) and to make sure that some of your code is laid out in a way that toybox can process and understand.

For starters, the name of your git repo will be the name toybox uses for a lot of things. It's better not to use the name of an existing toybox as this could cause clashes with future features (i.e. search for toyboxes on the website or add your toybox to a potential registry of toyboxes).

toyboxes can provide Lua methods, either written in Lua or in C as extensions to the Lua language, or C methods that can be used by others when writing their own C code for the Playdate. Your toybox can provide just one, two or all three of these types of extensions.

Versionning for toyboxes is done via tags in the git repo for your toybox. Those tags should be a valid semver version and can optionally be prefixed by a v. For example v2.3.0 is correct, v2.3 is not. The most important part for users of your toybox is to make sure that you only fix issues when incrementing a patch version, that you only add new functionality when incrementing a minor version and that you always increment the major version when adding things to your toybox that may break things for your users (removing deprecated methods or changing the API for example).

It's usually a good idea, rather than provide a swiss-army knife type of toybox, to try and make sure you toyboxes provide one service and do it well. Split different functionality into separate toyboxes so developers can only add the ones they need.

toyboxes can depend on other toyboxes. All you need is to add a Boxfile in the root directory of your toybox and it will be taken care of automatically when resolving dependencies. Be careful, during development for example, to not resolve that dependency directly in your project folder. You could end up committing the resulting toyboxes folder which would be redundant when others use your toybox. Instead you can use it as a local toybox in a test project.

A Lua toybox can depend on a C toybox and a C toybox can depend on another C toybox. You don't even need any extra import statements because any Lua toyboxes your toybox depends on should already be imported before your toyboxe's import file is imported.

Try to make sure that toyboxes don't cross-depend on each other (A require B and B also requires A) as this is usually a sign of some API design issues and can complicate things in the long run.

Creating a Lua toybox

Creating a Lua toybox is as simple as adding one Lua file at the root to your project's repo or in a subfolder named source or Source. That file can be named import.lua or the same as your project and must contain all the import statements required to use your toybox. For example, the fictional MyPdPi toybox, if written in Lua, would contain one file named MyPdPi.lua which would look like this:

--  MyPdPi - Calculate Pi to an infinite number of decimals.

import "math"
import "picalc"
import "utils"

The source code itself in your toybox can be laid out any way you want (additional Source subfolder, etc...) as long as this file imports all the other files correctly.

If you wish to use a completely custom name for the Lua file toybox will import for your project, you can use the set lua_import command:

toybox set lua_import mycustomfile.lua

This will create a Boxfile in your project, if one didn't already exist, and will set a configuration parameter for toybox to use that Lua file when importing your toybox instead of the default.

Creating a C toybox

Creating a C toybox is almost as simple and requires three things. First you need to create a makefile for your toybox in the root folder of your project and name it after your project. Once again, if the fictional MyPdPi toybox was written in C, it would contain one file named which would look like this:

#  MyPdPi - Calculate Pi to an infinite number of decimals.

# -- Find out more about where this file is relative to the Makefile including it

# -- Add us as an include search folder only if it's not already there
uniq = $(if $1,$(firstword $1) $(call uniq,$(filter-out $(firstword $1),$1)))
UINCDIR := $(call uniq, $(UINCDIR) $(_RELATIVE_DIR))

# -- Add our source files.
SRC := $(SRC) \

The first section is very important and makes sure that the makefile is relocatable, i.e. can work no matter where the includer's makefile is located. The second part adds the root folder of your toybox as an include path. The last section adds the source files that need to be compiled for your toybox. Don't forget the $(SRC) on the first line to make sure that any previous sources files from other toyboxes are included.

The use of := instead of = is also very important here as it force make to resolve the value right here and there, instead of when it is used because it could have been overwritten by another toybox at that point.

Header files for your project should be located in a subfolder named after your project, in our case MyPdPi and it should contain at least an include header named after your project, i.e. MyPdPi.h which, at a minimum, looks like this:

*  MyPdPi - Calculate Pi to an infinite number of decimals.

#ifndef MYPDPI_H
#define MYPDPI_H

#include "pd_api.h"

// -- Globals
extern PlaydateAPI* pd;

// -- toybox registration function
void register_MyPdPi(PlaydateAPI* playdate);


As shown above, your toybox header file needs to declare at least one function and that's the function called during the kEventInitLua event. The name of that function needs to be register_<toybox_name> and take a PlaydateAPI* playdate as an argument. If you're registering extensions to the Lua language this is where that would take place.

You can also declare any other functions your toybox exposes or include any other header files that may be needed. If your toybox is just providing C code for other projects and doesn't require any particular initialisation you can leave this method empty or just grab the PlaydateAPI* for future use elsewhere in your code, like so:

 *  MyPdPi - Calculate Pi to an infinite number of decimals.
#include "MyPdPi/MyPdPi.h"

// -- Globals
PlaydateAPI* pd = NULL;

// -- toybox registration function
void register_MyPdPi(PlaydateAPI* playdate)
    pd = playdate;

Providing assets in your toybox

If your toybox uses or provides assets, they should be located in a folder named assets at the root of your toybox folder. This folder will be moved into the end-user's source folder during installation so that it can be accessible by pdc during compilation of the project. You will therefore need to use a specific path in order to reach those assets from your code.

For example, if our MyPdPi toybox contained an image named MyPic.png in assets/images and was available via a github repo named MyRepo from user MyUsername then accessing the asset can be done as follows:

image =`toybox_assets/`)

While this works when the code is internal to your toybox, when you need to provide assets to the end-user of your toybox, it is much more elegant to provide utility methods in order to access your assets, like this:

function MyPdPi.getMyPic()

That way they do not have to deal with the path to your asset.

You can override the subfolder used for your toybox's assets by using the set assets_sub_folder command:

toybox set assets_sub_folder My/Custom/Path

This will create a Boxfile in your project, if one didn't already exist, and will set a configuration parameter for toybox to use that subfolder inside the toybox_assets folder. This is not recommended to use for production toyboxes as is could cause name collisions. It can still be useful if you forked a toybox repo for development but want to still keep the assets' path the same as the original repo.

Letting others know about your toybox

It's not required, but it's always a good idea, to add a word about in the of your toybox repo so developers know what it contains and how to use it:

**MyPdPi** is a [**Playdate**]( **toybox** which lets you calculate Pi to an infinite number of decimals.

You can add it to your **Playdate** project by installing [****](, going to your project folder in a Terminal window and typing:

    toybox add MyGitHubUsername/MyPdPi
    toybox update

This **toybox** contains both **Lua** and **C** toys for you to play with.

You can also add a nice Toybox Compatible badge like this:

[![Toybox Compatible](](

Don't forget to also let us know about your toyboxes via social media (#toyboxpy, mentions or DM) so that we can spread the word too...

License is distributed under the terms of the MIT license.

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