KPackage Framework

Installation and loading of additional content (ex: scripts, images...) as packages.


The KPackage framework lets the user install and load packages of non binary content such as scripted extensions or graphic assets, as if they were traditional plugins.

Using KPackage

The frameworks consists of 3 classes: PackageStructure, PackageLoader and Package. The central class is Package, that represents an installed package and is used to access its file, install, update or uninstall it.

In order to use the framework the developer has to define a package structure. (the package type, that will be depending on the particular application, and the type of content that will be provided, may be a sound theme, graphics assets, qml files etc).

The package loader is used to load instances of Package of a given type.

Package class

Package is the central class of the framework, and it represents a package of a certain type, it can be either "abstract", not pointing to a particular package on disk (in which case the only things allowed will be installing and uninstalling) or it can point to a particular package installed on disk: its path() not being empty and valid.

A Package defines a particular filesystem structure for installed addons, made up of allowed subdirectories in which content will be organized and several optional named files, if you want to mandate a particular named file in every package (for instance if your addons need a file named "main.qml" in order to be considered valid).

A fixed structure is encouraged by the api of Package in order to encourage plugin creators to distribute packages made with a standard and expected structure, encouraging a common path installation prefix, and strongly discouraging cross references between different packages such as ../ relative paths and symlinks across packages.

An example filesystem structure (that in the end, depends from the PackageStructure) may be:

|-- code
| `-- main.js
|-- config
| `-- config.xml
|-- images
| `-- background.png
`-- metadata.json

The special, main and always required for every package structure file is the "metadata" file, which describes the package with values such as name, description, pluginname etc. It is in the JSON format accepted by KPluginMetadata. The metadata is accessible with Package::metadata().

All the other files are under the contents/ subdirectory: a folder under addDirectoryDefinition will be registered under contents/.

If the developer wants that those extension package require to have a particular file or folder, he will use setRequired() on a particular key: in that case if a package misses that file or folder, isValid() will return false and all the filePath resolution won't work.

To access a file within the package, the filePath(key, filename) method is used. In order to use that the caller doesn't have to care where the package is installed and absolute paths of any kind, it will pass a relative one, and the prober absolute path will be resolved and returned.

The key parameter is one of those that has been registered by the structure beforehand by addFileDefinition or addDirectoryDefinition. Files asked with an unknown keys won't be resolved.

Accessing a file under a directory will look like package.filePath("ui", "main.qml") while accessing a particular named file will look like package.filePath("mainscript").

If as file path is passed a relative path with ".." elements in it or an absolute path, the resolution will fail as well, in order to discourage cross references (same thing will happen if the resolved file is a symlink), unless the package structure explicitly allowed it with setAllowExternalPaths(). Here is a minimal example of a PackageStructure::initPackage.

// ...
void MyStructure::initPackage(KPackage::Package *package)
package->setDefaultPackageRoot(QStringLiteral("myapp" "/packages/"));
package->addDirectoryDefinition("images", QStringLiteral("images"));
QStringList mimetypes{QStringLiteral("image/svg+xml"), QStringLiteral("image/png"), QStringLiteral("image/jpeg")};
package->setMimeTypes("images", mimetypes);
package->addDirectoryDefinition("code", QStringLiteral("code"));
package->addFileDefinition("mainscript", QStringLiteral("scripts/main.js"));
//this way, the package will not be considered valid if mainscript is not present
package->setRequired("mainscript", true);
K_PLUGIN_CLASS_WITH_JSON(MyStructure, "mystructure.json")
object representing an installed package
Definition package.h:63
void setRequired(const QByteArray &key, bool required)
Sets whether or not a given part of the structure is required or not.
Definition package.cpp:678
void setMimeTypes(const QByteArray &key, const QStringList &mimeTypes)
Define mimeTypes for a given part of the structure The path must already have been added using addDir...
Definition package.cpp:698
void addDirectoryDefinition(const QByteArray &key, const QString &path)
Adds a directory to the structure of the package.
Definition package.cpp:625
void addFileDefinition(const QByteArray &key, const QString &path)
Adds a file to the structure of the package.
Definition package.cpp:645
void setDefaultPackageRoot(const QString &packageRoot)
Sets preferred package root.
Definition package.cpp:133

The line K_PLUGIN_CLASS_WITH_JSON is important in order to export the PackageStructure subclass MyStructure as a standalone plugin library using the KPluginFactory architecture, in order to be loadable and recognizable by a PackageLoader instance from any process (without the need to explicitly link to a library containing the MyStructure implementation).

In order to build the plugin, it is also needed a .json file describing the metadata for the plugin:

"KPackageStructure": "MyApp/MyStructure",
"X-KDE-ParentApp": "org.kde.myapp"

And an own CMakeLists.txt.

# build the PackageStructure implementation and install it where PackageLoader looks for plugins
kcoreaddons_add_plugin(myapp_packagestructure_mystructure SOURCES mystructure.cpp INSTALL_NAMESPACE kf6/packagestructure)
target_link_libraries(myapp_packagestructure_mystructure KF6::Package)

The C++ implementation with its CMake and JSON files are recommended to be in their own subdirectory, for separation respect to the code of the parent application.

Package structures

Package structures are instance of PackageStructure and are shipeed as plugins.

PackageStructure::initPackage will be executed once when any package is created, and this initializes the Package instance on what are the allowed subfolders and named files for this type. The most important thing to do in initPackage is setting a packageRoot path, that will be a common prefix under which all packages will be installed, relative to the xdg data paths. For instance the packages of type "plasmoid" will be under "plasma/plasmoids" which means searching under ~/.local/share/plasma/plasmoids and /usr/share/plasma/plasmoids.

This is the only required function to be reimplemented for a given PackageStructure, the other ones being optional only when particular needs ensue.

PackageStructure::pathChanged gets executed when the base path of the Package changes (that means, what package on the filesystem the class is pointing to, as this can change at runetime with Package::setPath). Reimplement this only if you need to have extra check/operations when such a thing happens.

Package loader

The PackageLoader is used to list, find and load Package instances.

The most important functions of this class are listPackages/findPackages to list and search packages of a certain type (package structure), for example listing all plasmoids or all plasmoids that have "clock" in their description PackageLoader::loadPackage loads a "blank" package of a certain type. The returned package will be a Package instance that has been initialized to that given structure, pointing to a particular package in the filesystem only if the optional parameter packagePath has been passed. If not, it will be an invalid package, still usable to install and uninstall packages of this type or it can always load a package on the filesystem with the setPath Package method, relative to the packageroot.

Upon setPath, subdirectories of the packageroot will be searched both in the global system installation and in the user home, preferring the home, such as ~/.local/share/plasma/plasmoids and /usr/share/plasma/plasmoids. If one has to iterate through packages, creating a single Package instance then loading different ones with subsequent calls of setPath is preferable over creating multiple instances for performance reasons. Example of code loading a package:

KPackage::Package p = KPackage::PackageLoader::self()->loadPackage("Plasma/Applet", "org.kde.plasma.analogclock");
if (p.isValid()) {
qDebug() << p.filePath("mainscript");