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# Plugin Content

A plugin is a library with a defined interface, which is loaded on demand. This differs from a library as a library is linked and loaded on startup of the application. In the QML case, the interface is called QQmlExtensionPlugin. There are two methods interesting for us initializeEngine() and registerTypes(). When the plugin is loaded first the initializeEngine() is called, which allows us to access the engine to expose plugin objects to the root context. In the majority, you will only use the registerTypes() method. This allows you to register your custom QML types with the engine on the provided URL.

Let us explore by building a small FileIO utility class. It would let you read and write text files from QML. A first iteration could look like this in a mocked QML implementation.

// FileIO.qml (good)
QtObject {
    function write(path, text) {};
    function read(path) { return "TEXT" }
}

This is a pure QML implementation of a possible C++ based QML API. We use this to explore the API. We see we need a read and a write function. We also see that the write function takes a path and a text, while the read function takes a path and returns a text. As it looks, path and text are common parameters and maybe we can extract them as properties to make the API easier to use in a declarative context.

// FileIO.qml (better)
QtObject {
    property url source
    property string text
    function write() {} // open file and write text 
    function read() {} // read file and assign to text 
}

Yes, this looks more like a QML API. We use properties to allow our environment to bind to our properties and react to changes.

To create this API in C++ we would need to create a Qt C++ interface looking like this.

class FileIO : public QObject {
    ...
    Q_PROPERTY(QUrl source READ source WRITE setSource NOTIFY sourceChanged)
    Q_PROPERTY(QString text READ text WRITE setText NOTIFY textChanged)
    ...
public:
    Q_INVOKABLE void read();
    Q_INVOKABLE void write();
    ...
}

The FileIO type need to be registered with the QML engine. We want to use it under the “org.example.io” module

import org.example.io 1.0

FileIO {
}

A plugin could expose several types with the same module. But it can not expose several modules from one plugin. So there is a one to one relationship between modules and plugins. This relationship is expressed by the module identifier.