Development/Tutorials/Using KActions

< Development‎ | Tutorials
Revision as of 21:43, 3 January 2007 by Milliams (talk | contribs) (All about KAction)
Jump to: navigation, search


We're going to introduce the concept of actions. Actions are a unified way of supplying the user with ways to interact with your program.

Say, for example, we want to let the user clear the text box by clicking a button in the toolbar, from an option in the File menu or through a keyboard shortcut; we can provide all of those through one KAction.



A KAction is an object which contains all the information about the icon and shortcuts you want associated to a certain action. You then connect the action to a slot which carries out the work of you action.

Creating Your Own

To create an action, you need to #include <KAction> in your .cpp file.

Creating the object

We're going to create an action which will clear the text area (see Tutorial 2). The KAction is built up in a number of steps. The first is creating the KAction KAction* clearAction = new KAction(actionCollection(), "clear"); This creates a KAction called clearAction. The first constructor argument is telling the action that it is part of the KActionCollection actionCollection() and the second is simply setting a name for internal use (it doesn't necessarily have to be textually similar to the function of the action).


Now we have out KAction object, we can start setting its properties. First, we'll set the text that will be displayed in the menu and under its icon in the toolbar. clearAction->setText(i18n("Clear")); As you can see, the text must be passed through the i18n() function if you want your UI to be translatable.


If you're going to display the action in a toolbar, you're going to want to have an icon depicting the action. To set an icon we simply use the setIcon() function thus: clearAction->setIcon(KIcon("filenew")); Here we're setting the icon to the standard KDE filenew icon.


We can also set a shortcut that will perform our action. It's as simple as a clearAction->setShortcut(Qt::CTRL+Qt::Key_W); to set Ctrl+W to be associated to this action.

Connecting the action

Now our action is fully set up, we need to connect it to something useful. We're going to connect our action to the clear() action belonging to a KTextArea. connect(clearAction, SIGNAL(triggered(bool)), textArea, SLOT(clear())); This is the came as it would be done in Qt with a QAction.


For actions which would likely appear in almost every KDE application such as 'quit', 'save', and 'load' there are pre-created convenience KActions, accessed through KStandardAction.

They are very simple to use. Once you've done #include <KAction>, you simply need to supply it with what you want the function to do and which KActionCollection to add it to. For example, KStandardAction::quit(kapp, SLOT(quit()), actionCollection()); Will Create a KAction with the correct icon, text and shortcut and will even add it to the File menu.

The Code


  1. ifndef MAINWINDOW_H
  2. define MAINWINDOW_H
  1. include <KMainWindow>
  2. include <KTextEdit>

class MainWindow : public KMainWindow {

   MainWindow(QWidget *parent=0);
   KTextEdit* textArea;
   void setupActions();


  1. endif


  1. include "mainwindow.h"
  1. include <KApplication>
  2. include <KAction>
  3. include <KStandardAction>

MainWindow::MainWindow(QWidget *parent) : KMainWindow(parent) {

 textArea = new KTextEdit;


void MainWindow::setupActions() {

 KAction* clearAction = new KAction(actionCollection(), "clear");
 connect(clearAction, SIGNAL(triggered(bool)), 
         textArea, SLOT(clear()));
 KStandardAction::quit(kapp, SLOT(quit()), actionCollection());



  1. include <KApplication>
  2. include <KAboutData>
  3. include <KCmdLineArgs>
  1. include "mainwindow.h"

int main (int argc, char *argv[]) {

 KAboutData aboutData( "tutorial3", "Tutorial 3",
     "1.0", "A simple text area using KAction etc.",
     KAboutData::License_GPL, "(c) 2006" );
 KCmdLineArgs::init( argc, argv, &aboutData );
 KApplication app;

 MainWindow* window = new MainWindow();
 return app.exec();


Putting the actions in the menus and toolbars



<!DOCTYPE kpartgui SYSTEM "kpartgui.dtd"> <kpartgui name="tutorial3" version="1">

 <ToolBar name="mainToolBar" >
   <text>Main Toolbar</text>
   <Action name="clear" />
   <Menu name="file" >
     <Action name="clear" />





SET(tutorial3_SRCS main.cpp mainwindow.cpp )

KDE4_ADD_EXECUTABLE(tutorial3 ${tutorial3_SRCS})


install(TARGETS tutorial3 DESTINATION ${BIN_INSTALL_DIR}) install( FILES tutorial3ui.rc DESTINATION ${DATA_INSTALL_DIR}/tutorial3 )

Moving On

Now we can make the GUI look like and do whatever we want, we can move on to storing application settings with KConfig XT

Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.