— the global portal for all things SBML


Latest stable release: 5.8.0, released 28 February 2013 (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 is not an application itself (though it does come with example programs), but rather a library you can 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, Akiya Jouraku, Frank Bergmann, Ben Bornstein 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. 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.

Support for SBML Level 3 packages

LibSBML supports SBML Level 3 packages via plug-ins. Packages whose specifications have been officially released are included in the standard releases of libSBML, while in-development packages are available as part of experimental libSBML releases. A separate page summarizes the SBML Level 3 packages and their implementation statuses.

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.

Development roadmap and history

The libSBML release matrix provides an overview of the differences between the most current stable and development releases of libSBML. Our more detailed plans for upcoming versions of libSBML are described on a separate libSBML development roadmap page. 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):

• Bill Denny • Stefan Hoops
• Christoph Flamm • Moriyoshi Koizumi
• Akira Funahashi • Ben Kovitz
• Ralph Gauges • Rainer Machné
• Martin Ginkel • Nicolas Rodriguez
• Alex Gutteridge • Lucian Smith

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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