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This documentation is for an old version of Cantera. You can find docs for newer versions here.

Language Interfaces

Although most of Cantera is written in C++, interfaces are provided to allow users to work with Cantera from several different languages or environments, including Fortran 90/95, Python, and MATLAB. Which language should you choose? The basic rule of thumb is this: use Python or MATLAB if possible; use C++ or Fortran if necessary.


Python is a free scripting language that is designed to be easy to use. If you are familiar with any other programming language, you can probably learn Python in a couple of hours. It is also an elegant language, and provides a user-friendly introduction to the concepts of object-oriented programming. Python is great for solving problems quickly, and Cantera provides example Python scripts to do calculations ranging from simple evaluation of thermodynamic or transport properties, on up to chemical equilibrium in multiphase mixtures, 1D laminar flames, reactor networks, and more. If your problem can be solved by using Cantera from Python, you’ll almost certainly solve it faster with Python than by writing programs in Fortran or C++.



The comments above for Python apply to MATLAB too, except hat Python is free and MATLAB isn’t. If you have MATLAB already and are familiar with it, this is a good choice for an environment from which to run Cantera. It is probably the most popular Cantera application environment.


If you find that you need full access to the internals of Cantera, or want to extend and customize Cantera, then C++ is the language for you. Most of Cantera is itself written in C++, and so C++ application programs have more direct access to Cantera’s core functionality than do programs written in other languages, which access Cantera through a library of C-like functions. From C++, you can implement new equations of state, new models for transport properties, and many other things that simply can’t be done through the other language interfaces. If you are doing substantial code development with Cantera, rather than simply using it to solve a few problems, then you will probably want to use it from C++.


Cantera provides an interface to Fortran 90/95, and can even be used from Fortran 77 programs. Use this if you have existing Fortran code you want to port to Cantera.