SmartMatrix-playpen VS stb

Compare SmartMatrix-playpen vs stb and see what are their differences.


A testing ground for SmartMatrix effects (by sutaburosu)


stb single-file public domain libraries for C/C++ (by nothings)
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SmartMatrix-playpen stb
3 164
2 25,008
- -
4.5 6.7
almost 3 years ago 6 days ago
C++ C
- GNU General Public License v3.0 or later
The number of mentions indicates the total number of mentions that we've tracked plus the number of user suggested alternatives.
Stars - the number of stars that a project has on GitHub. Growth - month over month growth in stars.
Activity is a relative number indicating how actively a project is being developed. Recent commits have higher weight than older ones.
For example, an activity of 9.0 indicates that a project is amongst the top 10% of the most actively developed projects that we are tracking.


Posts with mentions or reviews of SmartMatrix-playpen. We have used some of these posts to build our list of alternatives and similar projects. The last one was on 2021-12-14.
  • Need a trippy color spiral for your matrix? I gotcha covered.
    3 projects | /r/FastLED | 14 Dec 2021
    I'm not aware of any general significance of DrawOneFrame functions. They don't invoke any particular FastLED behaviour. For projects where a variety of different effects can be presented, the author may choose to use C++ classes to provide a standard interface to initialise and display those effects. In my WavyDots sketch, that function name is a vestige of such a choice. The Aurora project does something similar. So does the Striptease project, but there the DrawOneFrame function is simply called loop.
  • Any repository of perpetual 2D effects? (E.g. game of life, fractals, mathematical functions, etc.)
    1 project | /r/FastLED | 6 Sep 2021
    I have a repo with a few such effects. They are not intended for FastLED, but wouldn't require much effort to get working with FastLED. Video.
  • Supersample CRGB array
    3 projects | /r/FastLED | 12 Aug 2021
    On the T4 I found I can completely fill the screen with them: ~8,000 Wu pixels per frame at ~80 FPS. Is the current speed hampering you on ESP32?


Posts with mentions or reviews of stb. We have used some of these posts to build our list of alternatives and similar projects. The last one was on 2024-01-09.
  • Lessons learned about how to make a header-file library (2013)
    1 project | | 28 Feb 2024
  • Nebula is an open-source and free-to-use modern C++ game engine
    6 projects | | 9 Jan 2024
    Have you considered not using an engine at all, in favor of libraries? There are many amazing libraries I've used for game development - all in C/C++ - that you can piece together:

    * General: [stb](

  • STB: Single-file public domain libraries for C/C++
    4 projects | | 6 Jan 2024
  • Writing a TrueType font renderer
    9 projects | | 1 Jan 2024
    Great to see more accessible references on font internals. I have dabbled on this a bit last year and managed to have a parser and render the points of a glyph's contour (I stopped before Bezier and shape filling stuff). I still have not considered hinting, so it's nice that it's covered. What helped me was an article from the Handmade Network [1] and the source of stb_truetype [2] (also used in Dear ImGUI).



  • Capturing the WebGPU Ecosystem
    9 projects | | 11 Nov 2023
    So I read through the materials on mesh shaders and work graphs and looked at sample code. These won't really work (see below). As I implied previously, it's best to research/discuss these sort of matters with professional graphics programmers who have experience actually using the technologies under consideration.

    So for the sake of future web searchers who discover this thread: there are only two proven ways to efficiently draw thousands of unique textures of different sizes with a single draw call that are actually used by experienced graphics programmers in production code as of 2023.

    Proven method #1: Pack these thousands of textures into a texture atlas.

    Proven method #2: Use bindless resources, which is still fairly bleeding edge, and will require fallback to atlases if targeting the PC instead of only high end console (Xbox Series S|X...).

    Mesh shaders by themselves won't work: These have similar texture access limitations to the old geometry/tessellation stage they improve upon. A limited, fixed number of textures still must be bound before each draw call (say, 16 or 32 textures, not 1000s), unless bindless resources are used. So mesh shaders must be used with an atlas or with bindless resources.

    Work graphs by themselves won't work: This feature is bleeding edge shader model 6.8 whereas bindless resources are SM 6.6. (Xbox Series X|S might top out at SM 6.7, I can't find an authoritative answer.) It looks like work graphs might only work well on nVidia GPUs and won't work well on Intel GPUs anytime soon (but, again, I'm not knowledgeable enough to say this authoritatively). Furthermore, this feature may have a hard dependency on using bindless to begin with. That is, I can't tell if one is allowed to execute a work graph that binds and unbinds individual texture resources. And if one could do such a thing, it would certainly be slower than using bindless. The cost of bindless is paid "up front" when the textures are uploaded.

    Some programmers use Texture2DArray/GL_TEXTURE_2D_ARRAY as an alternative to atlases but two limitations are (1) the max array length (e.g. GL_MAX_ARRAY_TEXTURE_LAYERS) might only be 256 (e.g. for OpenGL 3.0), (2) all textures must be the same size.

    Finally, for the sake of any web searcher who lands on this thread in the years to come, to pack an atlas well a good packing algorithm is needed. It's harder to pack triangles than rectangles but triangles use atlas memory more efficiently and a good triangle packing will outperform the fancy new bindless rendering. Some open source starting points for packing:

  • Www Which WASM Works
    2 projects | | 24 Sep 2023
    The STB headers are mostly built like that:

    You could also add an optional 'convenience API' over the lower-level flexible-but-inconvenient core API, as long as core library can be compiled on its own.

    In essence it's just a way to decouple the actually important library code from runtime environment details which might be better implemented outside the C/C++ stdlib.

    It's already as simple as the stdlib IO functions not being asynchrononous while many operating systems provide more modern alternatives. For a specific type of library (such an image decoder) it's often better to delegate such details to the library user instead of circumventing the stdlib and talking directly to OS APIs.

  • File for Divorce from LLVM
    9 projects | | 29 Jun 2023
    My stuff for instance:

    ...inspired by:

    But it's not so much about the build system, but requiring a separate C/C++ compiler toolchain (Rust needs this, Zig currently does not - unless the proposal is implemented).

  • What C libraries do you use the most?
    4 projects | /r/C_Programming | 29 Jun 2023
    STB Libraries:
  • [Noob Question] How do C programmers get around not having hash maps?
    3 projects | /r/C_Programming | 22 Jun 2023
    stb_ds is also very popular.
  • Is there an existing multidimensional hash table implementation in C?
    4 projects | /r/C_Programming | 20 Jun 2023

What are some alternatives?

When comparing SmartMatrix-playpen and stb you can also consider the following projects:

plutovg - Tiny 2D vector graphics library in C

Vcpkg - C++ Library Manager for Windows, Linux, and MacOS

ESP32StockTicker - Basic stock ticker using ESP32 and MAX7219 LED Matrix. Produces a webpage so user can input a ticker.

imgui-node-editor - Node Editor built using Dear ImGui

Striptease - Sexy, audio-responsive effects on LED strips.

ZXing - ZXing ("Zebra Crossing") barcode scanning library for Java, Android

aurora - Aurora runs on SmartMatrix, a beautiful music visualizer, dynamic art display, video game art display.

freetype-gl - OpenGL text using one vertex buffer, one texture and FreeType

ImageMagick - 🧙‍♂️ ImageMagick 7

Cppcheck - static analysis of C/C++ code

SOIL2 - SOIL2 is a tiny C library used primarily for uploading textures into OpenGL.

Better String - The Better String Library