Adding Built-in Catalogues to Arbor#

There are two ways new mechanisms catalogues can be added to Arbor, statically or dynamically. If you have a set of mechanisms to use with Arbor, you are in all likelihood interested in the former.


If you are coming from NEURON and looking for the equivalent of nrnivmodl, please read on here.

Following the below instructions is for developers rather than end-users.

This requires a copy of the Arbor source tree and the compiler toolchain used to build Arbor in addition to the installed library. Following these steps will produce a catalogue of the same level of integration as the built-in catalogues (default, bbp, and allen). The required steps are as follows

  1. Go to the Arbor source tree.

  2. Create a new directory under mechanisms with the name of your catalogue

    1. Add any .mod files you wish to integrate.

    2. Add any raw C++ files to be included in the catalogue.

  1. Edit mechanisms/CMakeLists.txt to add a definition like this (example from default catalogue)

      NAME default                                                # Name of your catalogue, must match directory under 2.
      MOD exp2syn expsyn expsyn_stdp hh kamt kdrmt nax nernst pas # Space separated list of mechanism names
      CXX                                                         # Optional: list of raw C++ mechanism names
      VERBOSE  ${ARB_CAT_VERBOSE}                                 # Print debug info at configuration time
      ADD_DEPS ON)                                                # Must be ON, make catalogue part of arbor
  2. Add a global_NAME_catalogue function in mechcat.hpp.

  3. Bind this function in python/mechanisms.cpp to NAME-catalogue.

All steps can be directly adapted from the surrounding code.


If you have special requirements, you can write mechanisms in C/C++ directly against Arbor’s ABI. These need to adhere to the calling convention of the ABI. See here for more.