node package manager
Share your code. npm Orgs help your team discover, share, and reuse code. Create a free org »


These are offical "javascript bindings" to liblouis created by cross compiling liblouis using emscripten. The Liblouis API written in C can be directly called using the ccall and cwrap functions provided by emscripten. As directly calling the C API is cumbersome, an additional API — called Easy API — is provided for most functions. This package supports NodeJS and browser environments.

npm version Bower version latest build in the npm registry latest build in the bower registry

Table of Contents

  1. API Overview
    1. Installation
    2. List of Available Liblouis Functions
    3. Compiling the Latest Version of Liblouis
  2. Usage Examples
    1. Printing the Version Number Using the Easy API in the Browser
    2. Printing the Version Number By Directly Calling Liblouis in the Browser
    3. Printing the Version Number Using the Easy API in NodeJS
    4. Translating and Back-Translating a String Using the Easy API
    5. Altering a Table Definition on Run-Time
    6. Downloading Table Files on Demand in the Browser
    7. Loading Table Files From Disk in NodeJS
    8. Dropping the Path Prefix of Bundled Tables
    9. Debugging and Adjusting the Log Level
    10. Persisting Log Files in NodeJS using Deprecated Liblouis Log Functions
    11. Usage with Typescript
    12. Switching between Builds
  3. Changelog
  4. Licensing

API Overview


npm install liblouis

This will install the latest available version of liblouis' C-API. If you want to install the latest stable release execute:

npm install liblouis-build@latest
npm install liblouis

If you want to install the latest prerelease version execute:

npm install liblouis-build@next
npm install liblouis

If you want to fetch a specific version of the C-API, for example version 3.1.0, you can use the following commands:

npm install liblouis-build@3.1.0
npm install liblouis

List of Available Liblouis Functions

Method Easy API Direct Call API
lou_translateString ✔*
lou_backTranslateString ✔*
lou_logFile ✖**
lou_logPrint ✖**
lou_logEnd ✖**

* only BMP tested

** lou_logPrint, lou_logFile and lou_logEnd will not be implemented as they are deprecated.


Compiling the Latest Version of Liblouis

# obtain the latest version
git clone
cd liblouis
# build
emconfigure ./configure
emmake make
emcc liblouis/.libs/ -s RESERVED_FUNCTION_POINTERS=1 \
-s EXPORTED_FUNCTIONS="['_lou_version', '_lou_translateString', '_lou_translate',\
'_lou_backTranslateString', '_lou_backTranslate', '_lou_hyphenate',\
'_lou_compileString', '_lou_getTypeformForEmphClass', '_lou_dotsToChar',\
'_lou_charToDots', '_lou_registerLogCallback', '_lou_setLogLevel',\
'_lou_logFile', '_lou_logPrint', '_lou_logEnd', '_lou_setDataPath',\
'_lou_getDataPath', '_lou_getTable', '_lou_checkTable',\
'_lou_readCharFromFile', '_lou_free', '_lou_charSize']" \
--post-js ./inc/post.js --pre-js ./inc/pre.js -o liblouis.js

To include a list of table files or a directory containing table files use the --embed-file flag.

Usage Examples

Printing the Version Number Using the Easy API in the Browser

Include a liblouis build first and the Easy-API second.

<!doctype html>
<!-- use your package manager to obtain these files: `build-no-tables.js`
     is part of the package `liblouis-build`, `easy-api.js` is the main
     file of the `liblouis-js` package. -->
<script src="build-no-tables.js"></script>
<script src="easy-api.js"></script>
<script>"Liblouis Version:", liblouis.version());
// Should print: 
// Liblouis Version: 3.1.0 

Printing the Version Number By Directly Calling Liblouis in the Browser

You can include any liblouis build for this example.

<!doctype html>
<script src="build-no-tables.js"></script>
<script>"Liblouis Version:", Module.ccall("lou_version", "string"));
// Should print: 
// Liblouis Version: 3.1.0 

Printing the Version Number Using the Easy API in NodeJS

Using require includes the Easy API, liblouis without tables and mounts the tables folder as tables.

const liblouis = require("liblouis");"Liblouis Version using Easy API:", liblouis.version());
// Should print: 
// Liblouis Version using Easy API: 3.1.0 

Translating and Back-Translating a String Using the Easy API

var unicode_braille = liblouis.translateString("tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb", "10 Ziegen")
// Variable should contain: 
// ⠼⠁⠚ ⠵⠊⠑⠛⠑⠝ 
console.log(liblouis.backTranslateString("tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb", unicode_braille))
// Should print: 
// 10 ziegen 

Altering a Table Definition on Run-Time

console.log(liblouis.translateString("tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb", "1"));
// Logs: ⠼⠁ 
liblouis.compileString("tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb", "numsign 123456");
console.log(liblouis.translateString("tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb", "1"));
// Logs: ⠿⠁ 

Downloading Table Files on Demand in the Browser

After including a build without a bundled table folder and the Easy-API call enableOnDemandTableLoading with an absolute or relative URL to the table directory:

// enable and set base url for tables 
// call any API (direct call API or easy API) method: 
var unicode_braille = liblouis.translateString("tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb", "10 Ziegen")
// Makes 12 XHR-Requests for table files. The variable should contain the same 
// content as above: 
// ⠼⠁⠚ ⠵⠊⠑⠛⠑⠝ 

Note that you have to run liblouis in a worker thread for enableOnDemandTableLoading to work [1].

You should call enableOnDemandTableLoading only once on initialization. Changing the table folder location during execution causes the filesystem to be inconsistent. If you have to change the folder location, reload the whole liblouis/emscripten instance.

Loading Table Files from Disk in NodeJS

In NodeJS environments, liblouis-js automatically tries to load the tables/ folder from disk if your built does not already bundle table files.

If you do not want to load tables from disk, you can disable this feature by calling:


Or if you want to change the location of the table folder, simply call:


Providing null will reset the path to the original folder location. enableOnDemandTableLoading file not free tables that were already compiled by liblouis automatically. You have to call yourself if you want liblouis to reload table files.

Debugging and Adjusting the Log Level

The available log levels are listed in the liblouis documentation. The log level constants can be accessed using liblouis.LOG[levelname]. The default log level of liblouis is liblouis.LOG.INFO. The log messages of enabled log levels are shown in the javascript console by default [2].

// log everything including debug messages 
// replace the default message handler 
liblouis.registerLogCallback(function(logLevel, msg){
    // logLevel is the constant associated with the log level. 
    // you may obtain a string representation of the log level as follows: 
    var logLevelName = liblouis.LOG[logLevel];
    // you may check for a specific log level: 
    if(logLevel === liblouis.LOG.DEBUG) {"just recieved a debug message");
    // or alternatively using a string comparison: 
    if(logLevelName === "DEBUG") {"just recieved a debug message");
    console.log(logLevel, logLevelName, msg);
    // Example output: 
    // 10000 "DEBUG" "found table tables/de-de-g1.ctb" 
// remove the custom message handler and use the default message handler 

Persisting Log Files in NodeJS using Deprecated Liblouis Log Functions

The following example creates a log file, that is persisted on the hard drive. Note that the functions of liblouis called below (lou_logFile, lou_logPrint and lou_logEnd) are all deprecated. The example only demonstrates how liblouis can be called directly from nodeJS. In production systems, you should consider implementing your own log functionality using registerLogCallback.

const path = require('path');
const capi = require('liblouis-build');
const easyapi = require('liblouis');
// map a directory on the machine to a virtual directory of emscripten: 
var hdd_directory = path.resolve(__dirname, 'logs/');
liblouis.getFilesystem().mount(NODEFS, { root: hdd_directory }, '/logs');
// log all messages: 
// enable liblouis' deprecated "log to file"-functionality: 
capi.ccall('lou_logFile', 'void', ['string'], ['/logs/liblouis.txt']); 
// map the new log functionality of liblouis to the deprecated log 
// functionality: 
easyapi.registerLogCallback(function(i, str) {
    capi.ccall('lou_logPrint', 'void', ['string'], [str]);
// do something that logs messages: 
easyapi.translateString("tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb", "10 Ziegen");
// Example log file contents are now: 
// ---------------------------------- 
// Performing translation: tableList=tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb, inlen=38 
// Inbuf=0x0031 0x0030 0x0020 0x005A 0x0069 0x0065 0x0067 0x0065 0x006E 0x0000 
// 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 
// 0x0000 0x0033 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 
// 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 ~ 10 Ziegen 
// Cannot resolve table 'tables/unicode.dis' 
// 1 errors found. 
// tables/unicode.dis,tables/de-de-g0.utb could not be found 

The log file is created if it does not exist. If it exists, new log messages are appended to the end of the file.

Dropping the Path Prefix of Bundled Tables

liblouis.enableOnDemandTableLoading lets you set the location of the table folder if you are not bundling tables in the build's binary. If you want to change the folder location inside the bundled virtual filesystem, you can use liblouis' lou_setDataPath as follows:

const PREFIX = "/tables";
const capi = require('liblouis-build');
const easyapi = require('liblouis');
capi.FS.symlink("/tables", "/liblouis/tables");

Usage with Typescript

The easy api is typed and plays well with typescript and npm.

Add the library as dependency to your package.json using

$ npm install --save liblouis

and add the following line to each file that uses liblouis

/// <reference types="liblouis"/> 

Switching between Builds

Switching between builds is supported in nodeJS and the browser. The example below uses nodeJS:

const build_1 = require('liblouis-build/build-no-tables.js');
const build_2 = require('liblouis-build/build-tables-embeded.js');
// In nodeJS, liblouis-js uses 'build-no-tables' by default, which is 
// included as build_1 above 
const liblouis = require('liblouis');
// use a liblouis build with embeded tables instead: 
// switch back to the default liblouis build 

Settings like registerLogCallback are automatically applied to new build.


Release 0.3.0: liblouis-js no longer bundles a build of the liblouis C-API [3]. Builds were moved to their own npm and bower packages - this makes build switching and liblouis C-API selection easier; Adds support for on demand table file loading in NodeJS; implements lou_setDataPath and lou_getDataPath.

This release is backward compatible: Liblouis builds for version 0.2.x can be used with liblouis-js 0.3.0.

Release 0.2.1: liblouis-js is now an official part of liblouis. The npm and bower packages were renamed to liblouis. This release updates package URLs from reiner-dolp/liblouis-js to liblouis/liblouis-js.

Release 0.2.0: Adding support for nodeJS (Issue #10, #11) and commonJS; Adding type definitions for Typescript; Updates liblouis to version 2c849bc; Renaming easy api file to easy-api.js; Implements lou_compileString; Support for build switching; Emscripten methods are no longer leaked to global scope.

This release is backward compatible: Liblouis builds for version 0.1.0 can be used with liblouis-js 0.2.0.

Release 0.1.0: Adding libouis.setLogLevel and liblouis.registerLogCallback; updating liblouis builds to commit db2a361.

Release 0.0.3: Initial public release


Emscripten is available under 2 licenses, the MIT license and the University of Illinois/NCSA Open Source License. Liblouis is licensed under LGPLv2.1+. Note that table files may have a different license. Licensing information can be found in the header of the individual table files.

Code that is not part of liblouis and not part of emscripten is licensed under GPL-3.0. The text of the license can be found in the file LICENSE of this repository.


[1] Emscripten requires the files to be loaded synchroniously. Synchronous XHR, used to fetch the files, is deprecated in the main thread as it blocks all user interaction.

[2] Liblouis writes messages to stdout and stderr by default. Emscripten redirects these to Module.print and Module.printErr, which are implemented as: function print(x) { console.log(x); } and function printErr(x) { console.warn(x); }. There is no need to overwrite these functions. You can use liblouis#registerLogCallback(int logLevel, string msg), which additionally exposes the log level. The Easy API registers a log callback by default, which maps each message level to the correct console method, e.g. liblouis warning messages to console.warn and liblouis fatal errors to console.error.

[3] Before this change, liblouis and liblouis-js versions correspond as follows: 0.1.0 = 3.0.0 (db2a361), 0.2.0 = 3.1.0 (2c849bc).