— the global portal for all things SBML


Latest stable release: 5.10.0, released 10 April 2014 (see box at right →)

LibSBML is a free, open-source programming library to help you read, write, manipulate, translate, and validate SBML files and data streams. It's not an application itself (though it does come with example programs), but rather a library you embed in your own applications.

LibSBML is available for free under LGPL terms in both source-code form and precompiled binaries for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

The main authors are Sarah Keating, Frank Bergmann, Ben Bornstein, Akiya Jouraku, Lucian Smith and Michael Hucka, with contributions from many other people.

Why use libSBML?

Why not simply use an off-the-shelf XML parser? In some cases this approach may be appropriate. However, there are many reasons to prefer libSBML. First, libSBML understands all Levels and Versions of SBML, and supports plug-in extensions for SBML Level 3 packages, as well as the SBML Layout proposal by Gauges, Rost, Sahle and Wegner. Here are a few additional benefits:

  • API for many languages. LibSBML is written in ISO C and C++ but can be used from all the languages listed in the right-hand box.
  • Object model. LibSBML's object model and API are designed around SBML and the operations that are commonly needed when working with SBML.
  • Features. LibSBML offers powerful features such as reading/writing compressed SBML files, support for SBML Level 3 packages, detecting overconstrained models, checking units, an API for SBML <annotation> content, and support for the three most popular XML parser libraries: Xerces, Expat, and libxml2.
  • Efficiency. LibSBML's event-based parser is more efficient than using a DOM.
  • Portability. The code is highly portable. It's supported on Linux (multiple variants), Windows (native), MacOS X, and also runs on Solaris and FreeBSD.

Please cite the paper if you use libSBML

Article citations are crucial to our academic careers. If you use libSBML and you publish papers about your software, we ask that you please cite the libSBML paper:

Bornstein, B. J., Keating, S. M., Jouraku, A., and Hucka M. (2008) LibSBML: An API Library for SBML. Bioinformatics, 24(6):880–881, doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btn051.

Release schedule

A stable release of libSBML includes support for SBML Level 3 Core and all accepted SBML Level 3 packages, as well as support for Level 3 packages that are currently under development. An experimental only release merely updates code for the SBML Level 3 packages under development. A full explanation of the types of release and the release schedule for 2014 can be found here.

Development roadmap and history

Plans for upcoming versions of libSBML are described on a separate libSBML development roadmap page. Previous development pages are available here. Finally, the complete releases of all previous versions are always available in the download area on

LibSBML contributors

LibSBML has been developed and supported for many years and is the result of hard work by many people. We especially thank the following contributors (in alphabetical order):

• Gordon Ball • Stefan Hoops
• Bill Denney • Totte Karlsson
• Christoph Flamm • Moriyoshi Koizumi
• Akira Funahashi • Ben Kovitz
• Ralph Gauges • Rainer Machné
• Martin Ginkel • Nicolas Rodriguez
• Alex Gutteridge

Funding acknowledgements

We are immensely thankful to the funding agencies, particularly NIH and DARPA, that have supported the development of libSBML over the years. Please visit our funding acknowledgements page for more information.

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