Qt Protobuf

The Qt Protobuf generator plugin generates Qt-based classes from .proto files. You can use the classes to serialize and deserialize their associated protobuf messages.


What are protocol buffers?

Protocol buffers are a language-neutral, platform-neutral, and extensible mechanism for serializing structured data, which is compact and easy to use:

  • A user defines the structure of data in .proto files.
  • Proto compiler is invoked at build time on .proto files to generate code in various programming languages.

The provided format is suitable for network traffic or long-term data storage.

Which problems do protocol buffers solve?

Protocol buffers provide a serialization format for packets of typed and structured data that are up to a few megabytes in size. Moreover, it can be extended with new information without invalidating existing data or requiring code to be updated. For more information, see Protocol Buffers Overview.

What are the benefits of using Qt Protobuf?

You can use a Protocol buffers mechanism in any Qt-based project:

  • No need to call a protocol buffer compiler explicitly.
  • No need to integrate generated code into project tree manually.
  • Convenient serialization and deserialization API.
  • Integrated properties mechanism for generated protobuf messages.
  • Integrated gRPC-client support (see Qt GRPC module).
  • Integrated QML-types support for generated protobuf messages. See Qt Protobuf QML Types
  • Enabled using Qt Core and Qt GUI types as a part of *.proto schema. See Protobuf Qt Core Types Module and Protobuf Qt GUI types module.

Incoming features

  • Enabling gRPC-server support.

Using the Module

Google protocol buffers provide a generator called protoc that supports extensions. The qtprotobufgen Tool is an extension for protoc and requires that you install protoc on your host system. For more information about the installation, see Protoc Installation.


The QML types of the module are available through the QML and QML_URI options in the qt_add_protobuf macro. The import name is equal to the .proto package name or defined by QML_URI option in the qt_add_protobuf macro. To use the types, add the following import statement to your .qml file:

import my.proto.package.uri


Using a Qt module's C++ API requires linking against the module library, either directly or through other dependencies. Several build tools have dedicated support for this, including CMake and qmake.

Building with CMake

Use the find_package() command to locate the needed module component in the Qt6 package:

find_package(Qt6 REQUIRED COMPONENTS Protobuf)
target_link_libraries(mytarget PRIVATE Qt6::Protobuf)

For more details, see the Build with CMake overview.

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Licenses and Attributions

The Qt Protobuf module is available under commercial licenses from The Qt Company. In addition, it is available under free software licenses: The GNU Lesser General Public License, version 3, or the GNU General Public License, version 2, or the GNU General Public License, version 3. See Qt Licensing for further details.

Furthermore, the qtprotobufgen tool in Qt 6.8.0 may contain third party modules under the following permissive licenses:

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