Difference between revisions of "Development/Tutorials/Plasma4/GettingStarted"

(cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr/lib/kde4/ hint added)
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== Testing the Applet ==
== Testing the Applet ==
If your current Development Environment differs from the Test Installation, you have to  
If your current Development Environment differs from the Test Installation, you have to run cmake with -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr/lib/kde4/ (replace with your $KDEDIR) or
* cp ./lib/plasma_applet_tutorial1.so $KDEDIR/lib  
* cp ./lib/plasma_applet_tutorial1.so $KDEDIR/lib  
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Where '''applet_name''' is the value specified into .desktop for the '''X-KDE-PluginInfo-Name''' key.
Where '''applet_name''' is the value specified into .desktop for the '''X-KDE-PluginInfo-Name''' key.
Otherwise you can restart the KDE session, so the Applet will be displayed in the Applet Browser.
Otherwise you can restart the KDE session, so the Applet will be displayed in the Applet Browser. Once you restarted the session you can keep updating the version, just close the widget before you install a new version of it.

Revision as of 13:27, 9 June 2008

Creating your first Plasmoid
Tutorial Series   Plasma Tutorial
Previous   C++, Qt, KDE4 development environment
What's Next  
Further Reading   CMake


This tutorial needs KDE 4.1 (trunk) to build. We're going to start creating a simple plasmoid in this tutorial, to keep things simple we will only create a static plasmoid, it will contain the following items.

  • An SVG Image
  • Icon
  • Some nice text

The Code

The .desktop file

Every Plasmoid needs a .desktop file to tell plasma how they should be started, and what name they carry.

plasma-applet-tutorial1.desktop [Desktop Entry] Name=Tutorial 1 Comment=Plasma Tutorial 1 Type=Service

X-KDE-ServiceTypes=Plasma/Applet X-KDE-Library=plasma_applet_tutorial1 X-KDE-PluginInfo-Author=Bas Grolleman [email protected] X-KDE-PluginInfo-Name=tutorial1 X-KDE-PluginInfo-Version=0.1 X-KDE-PluginInfo-Website=http://plasma.kde.org/ X-KDE-PluginInfo-Category=Examples X-KDE-PluginInfo-Depends= X-KDE-PluginInfo-License=GPL X-KDE-PluginInfo-EnabledByDefault=true

The most important bits are the X-KDE-Library and X-KDE-PluginInfo-Name, they are the "glue" between your class and plasma, without it, nothing will start. For X-KDE-PluginInfo-Category, refer to the PIG.

The header file

This is the example header file, I will add lots of comments in the code to explain everything.

plasma-tutorial1.h // Here we avoid loading the header multiple times

  1. ifndef Tutorial1_HEADER
  2. define Tutorial1_HEADER

// We need the Plasma Applet headers

  1. include <KIcon>
  1. include <Plasma/Applet>
  2. include <Plasma/Svg>

class QSizeF;

// Define our plasma Applet class PlasmaTutorial1 : public Plasma::Applet {

       // Basic Create/Destroy
       PlasmaTutorial1(QObject *parent, const QVariantList &args);

       // The paintInterface procedure paints the applet to screen
       void paintInterface(QPainter *painter,
               const QStyleOptionGraphicsItem *option,
               const QRect& contentsRect);

void init();

       Plasma::Svg m_svg;
       KIcon m_icon;


// This is the command that links your applet to the .desktop file K_EXPORT_PLASMA_APPLET(tutorial1, PlasmaTutorial1)

  1. endif

QRectF boundingRect()

The boundingRect() function tells plasma the actual size of the plasmoid, this is important because we need to know how much space is taken on screen.

If you have issues with your plasmoid leaving pixels behind when dragging this is almost always a result of a incorrect boundingRect()

void paintInterface(QRectF contentsRect)

You could call this the main function, since this paints the plasmoid on screen, here you define how you want your plasmoid to look. you should only paint in the boundaries defined by contentsRect and avoid using geometry(). when a plasmoid don't have a standard background, like it was disabled with a setBackgroundHints() call or it's in the panel geometry() and boundingRect are the same, but when the standard background is enabled (the usual case) the appplet will have a margin where it should not be painted

K_EXPORT_PLASMA_APPLET ( <name>, <class> )

This is a small but very important part, this links your classname to the applet name in the .desktop file, if your applet doesn't seem to be loaded than chances are there is a difference between this and your .desktop file

The K_EXPORT_PLASMA_APPLET adds "plasma_applet_", please pay attention to this when setting up your .desktop file to avoid a name difference

The actual work file

Here is the body of the function, again with a lot of comments in between.


  1. include "plasma-tutorial1.h"
  2. include <QPainter>
  3. include <QFontMetrics>
  4. include <QSizeF>
  1. include <plasma/svg.h>
  2. include <plasma/theme.h>

PlasmaTutorial1::PlasmaTutorial1(QObject *parent, const QVariantList &args)

   : Plasma::Applet(parent, args),


   // this will get us the standard applet background, for free!
   resize(200, 200);


PlasmaTutorial1::~PlasmaTutorial1() {

   if (hasFailedToLaunch()) {
       // Do some cleanup here
   } else {
       // Save settings


void PlasmaTutorial1::init() {

   // A small demonstration of the setFailedToLaunch function
   if (m_icon.isNull()) {
       setFailedToLaunch(true, "No world to say hello");


void PlasmaTutorial1::paintInterface(QPainter *p,

       const QStyleOptionGraphicsItem *option, const QRect &contentsRect)



   // Now we draw the applet, starting with our svg
   m_svg.resize((int)contentsRect.width(), (int)contentsRect.height());
   m_svg.paint(p, (int)contentsRect.left(), (int)contentsRect.top());

   // We place the icon and text
   p->drawPixmap(7, 0, m_icon.pixmap((int)contentsRect.width(),(int)contentsRect.width()-14));
               Qt::AlignBottom | Qt::AlignHCenter,
               "Hello Plasmoid!");


  1. include "plasma-tutorial1.moc"


As you can see in the example code where using the Plasma::Svg object, there are some important things to note here.

First we're using a relative path widgets/background which causes Plasma::Svg to use Plasma::Theme to locate the SVG data. While Plasma::Svg does support loading arbitrary files when passed an absolute path, use relative paths from the theme as often as possible as it makes Plasma skinable and the individual plasmoids look like a combined whole instead of a group of separate unrelated applications. You can see a list of available image components on the Plasma Theme page.

In either mode, Plasma::Svg can be used to draw a subset of the SVG file by passing it an element id that appears in the SVG document. As a good example, if you open the clock.svg file that ships with the default theme, you will see that it has a background, 3 handles (hour, minute and seconds) and a foreground (the glass). Due to the ability to put all the elements in one file the SVG file shows a clock. This is much nicer for artists compared to editing 5 separate files that they have to imagine on top of each other, and much nicer for performance as only one SVG renderer and one file read from disk is necessary.


Since drawing a background is a common function there is fast and easier way of doing it. By adding setBackgroundHints(DefaultBackground) to the code, the default Plasma background gets drawn behind your plasmoid. This not only saves you time and code, but creates a more consistent presentation for the user.

The init() method

In the constructor you only tell plasma about the background and configuration file if any. You also set the start size in the constructor. After that, plasma will take care of any resizing and you never have to worry about size. In the init() method you initialize everything that needs to be initialize such as reading config data for example.


If for some reason, the applet fails to get up on its feet (the library couldn't be loaded, necessary hardware support wasn't found, etc..) this method returns true. Using this function gives your application a chance to cleanup before quiting.

setFailedToLaunch(bool, QString)

When your application is unable to start, this function allows you to inform Plasma and give an optional reason why. Plasma will then draw a standardized error interface to inform the user of the situation and your applet will not be called upon to do any drawing on its own from that point forward. If your plasmoid becomes more complex and depends on multiple factors this is the nicest way to cleanup.


If you would connect to any of plasma's data-engines you would have to implement a function called dataUpdated in your plasmoid. The latter is called if the data-engine sends you data, i.e. your plasmoid should recalculate its contents.

Determine the applet size and geometry: geometry() and contentsRect()

If you need to know in your applet code what is the applet size and geometry you usually should avoid calling geometry() and size() because they don't take into account the margins size set by the applets default background, but you should use contentsRect() and contentsRect().size(). you should also avoid to use absolute numbers to position items in the applet like QPoint(0, 0) to indicate the top-left point of your applet, and should use contentsRect().topLeft() instead.

Building it all, the CMakeLists.txt

Finally, to put everything together you need to build everything, to tell cmake what needs to go where there is the CMakeLists.txt file.

For more details on CMake please read Development/Tutorials/CMake

  1. Project Needs a name ofcourse


  1. Find the required Libaries

find_package(KDE4 REQUIRED) include(KDE4Defaults) find_package(Plasma REQUIRED)

add_definitions (${QT_DEFINITIONS} ${KDE4_DEFINITIONS}) include_directories(

  1. We add our source code here

set(tutorial1_SRCS plasma-tutorial1.cpp)

  1. Now make sure all files get to the right place

kde4_add_plugin(plasma_applet_tutorial1 ${tutorial1_SRCS}) target_link_libraries(plasma_applet_tutorial1

                     ${PLASMA_LIBS} ${KDE4_KDEUI_LIBS})

install(TARGETS plasma_applet_tutorial1


install(FILES plasma-applet-tutorial1.desktop


Testing the Applet

If your current Development Environment differs from the Test Installation, you have to run cmake with -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr/lib/kde4/ (replace with your $KDEDIR) or

  • cp ./lib/plasma_applet_tutorial1.so $KDEDIR/lib
  • cp ./plasma-applet-tutorial1.desktop $KDEDIR/share/kde4/services/

and run kbuildsycoca4 (so that KDE apps will know about the new desktop files). In order to test your Applet you can use the plasmoidviewer program: plasmoidviewer applet_name

Where applet_name is the value specified into .desktop for the X-KDE-PluginInfo-Name key.

Otherwise you can restart the KDE session, so the Applet will be displayed in the Applet Browser. Once you restarted the session you can keep updating the version, just close the widget before you install a new version of it.

This page was last edited on 9 June 2008, at 13:27. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.