Building a reusable QML module

The example below demonstrates how to create a library which exposes C++ to QML. The directory structure for the example looks like this:

├── CMakeLists.txt
└── example
    └── mylib
        ├── CMakeLists.txt
        ├── mytype.cpp
        ├── mytype.h

The toplevel CMakeLists.txt file does some basic setup using qt_standard_project_setup, and then uses add_subdirectory to include the one in mylib:

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.16)

project(qmlmodule VERSION 1.0.0 LANGUAGES CXX)


find_package(Qt6 REQUIRED COMPONENTS Qml)
qt_standard_project_setup(REQUIRES 6.5)


The subdirectories are structured to correspond to the QML module’s URI, but with the dots replaced by slashes. That’s the same logic the engine uses when it searches for a module in the import paths. Following this subdirectory structure helps tooling.

mytype.h declares a class and uses the declarative registration macros to expose it to the engine.

In the subdirectory’s CMakeLists.txt we call qt_add_qml_module. Compared to Building a QML application, the invocation is slightly different:

    URI example.mylib
    VERSION 1.0
        mytype.h mytype.cpp

The target for mylib has not been created before. When the target passed to qt6_add_qml_module does not exist, it automatically creates a library target. This avoids a separate call to qt_add_library. To register QML types defined in C++, add their header and source files as arguments to the SOURCES parameter.

When the project is built, in addition to the library, a QML plugin is also built. The plugin's auto-generated class extends from QQmlEngineExtensionPlugin. The mylib library itself already contains the code to register the types with the engine. However, that is only useful in cases where we can link against the library. To make the module usable in a QML file loaded by qml, the QML Runtime Tool, a plugin is needed that can be loaded. The plugin is then responsible for actually linking against the library, and ensuring that the types get registered.

Note that the automatic plugin generation is only possible if the module does not do anything besides registering the types. If it needs to do something more advanced like registering an image provider in initializeEngine, you still need to manually write the plugin. qt6_add_qml_module has support for this with NO_GENERATE_PLUGIN_SOURCE.

Also, following the directory layout convention helps tooling. That layout is mirrored in the build directory. Which means that you can pass the path to your build directory to the QML tool (via the -I flag), and it will find the plugin.

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