MVTec Software GmbH

Programming with HALCON

HALCON offers various interfaces to access all of HALCON's more than 2000 powerful operators from programming languages like C, C++, and .NET languages like C# or VB.NET. Its open architecture allows you to access defined data structures and thus to integrate HALCON with further software components such as a user interface or process control. For example, HALCON provides a powerful extension for Visual Studio.

The software also supports parallel programming, e.g., multithreaded programs. Thus, multiple threads can call HALCON operators simultaneously. All of this, together with HALCON's inbuilt high-performance memory management lets you concentrate on your application development and quickly come to a solution.

Debugging within Visual Studio
HALCON variables can be inspected directly within Visual Studio


In HALCON/.NET all HALCON operators and data structures are available as high-level classes, greatly simplifying the development of your application. HALCON/.NET can be used in .NET languages like C#, Visual Basic .NET, and C++. It can be used on Windows and with Mono also on Linux.

With only a few lines of C# code you can build the entire application, e.g., to decode bar codes.

private void timerCycle_Tick(object sender, System.EventArgs e) 
   HTuple results; 


   // Create instance of reader without special parameters 
   HBarCode reader = new HBarCode(new HTuple(), new HTuple()); 


   // Acquire next image 
   HImage image = acquisition.GrabImage(); 


   // Find and decode bar codes of type EAN 13 
   HRegion regions = reader.FindBarCode(image, "EAN-13", out results); 


   if (results.Length > 0) 


      // Display image and bar code regions in graphics window 


      // Display decoded result of first found bar code in a text box 
      textBoxCode.Text = results[0]; 
      textBoxCode.Text = "Not found!"; 


   // Cleanup (could also be done using the garbage collector) 


With HALCON/C++ you can access the whole functionality of HALCON based on a C++ class hierarchy. This enables you to develop programs that are very compact and easy to maintain. HALCON/C++ is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS.


If you develop your solution with the interactive rapid prototyping environment HDevelop, the integration is very easy, since HDevelop can export your application as C++, C, C#, or Visual Basic source code. Furthermore, using HDevEngine, you can also integrate your machine vision program code easily into your application.


The "HDevelop Engine" is a library that acts as an interpreter and lets you directly load and execute HDevelop programs and procedures from within your C++, C#, or Visual Basic application. This allows you to change the vision part of your application without the need of compiling it.


In order to handle complex data more easily, HALCON offers a new data structure "dictionary". It is an associate array, that enables, e. g., to bundle different complex data types (like an image, corresponding ROIs, and parameters) into one single variable. This way you can simply structure programs for, e.g., passing many parameters to a procedure.

Dictionaries can also be read from and written to a file. This allows an engineer to bundle all information necessary to reproduce a certain application's state (e.g., camera calibration settings, defective images, and machine parameters) into a single file. This file can then easily be shared with an machine vision expert for offline-debugging.

Parallel Programming

HALCON not only supports multithreading and parallel programming but also provides automatic parallelization to exploit the power of multi-core or multiprocessor hardware. Read more about multi-core performance.

Automatic Handle Clearing

HALCON automatically clears handles once they are no longer required. This significantly reduces the risk of creating memory leaks and makes writing "safe code" much simpler.

Powerful Debugging

HALCON supports debugging efforts of software developers tremendously. Using HALCON's extension for Visual Studio, C++, and C#/.NET, developers can inspect HALCON variables (tuples and iconic) directly within Visual Studio.

When executing HDevelop procedures inside a C# or C++ application via HDevEngine, the machine vision part of the application can be debugged directly within HDevelop – even remotely – by connecting it with HDevEngine.

Protection of Know-how

HALCON secures the know-how of the software developer: code that is saved in external or local procedures, as well as code of entire procedure libraries or programs, can be secured with a password. Therefore, functionality can be shared without revealing the program code.