How about …

Next time, I show you how to turn that ViewModel into a Visitor? And then make a view that shows the syntax and outline of a parsed file’s language?

How about I turn my blog into the programmers’ equivalent to Dobbit magazine? :-)

Who knows what I’ll come up with next time. I guess I don’t know myself.

MVVM, Model View ViewModel, with Qt and QML

In the XAML world it’s very common to use the MVVM pattern. I will explain how to use the technique in a similar way with Qt and QML.

The idea is to not have too much code in the view component. Instead we have declarative bindings and move most if not all of our view code to a so called ViewModel. The ViewModel will sit in between the actual model and the view. The ViewModel typically has one to one properties for everything that the view displays. Manipulating the properties of the ViewModel alters the view through bindings. You typically don’t alter the view directly.

In our example we have two list-models, two texts and one button: available-items, accepted-items, available-count, accepted-count and a button. Pressing the button moves stuff from available to accepted. Should be a simple example.

First the ViewModel.h file. The class will have a property for ~ everything the view displays:


#include <QAbstractListModel>
#include <QObject>

class ViewModel : public QObject

	Q_PROPERTY(QAbstractListModel* availableItems READ availableItems NOTIFY availableItemsChanged )
	Q_PROPERTY(QAbstractListModel* acceptedItems READ acceptedItems NOTIFY acceptedItemsChanged )
	Q_PROPERTY(int available READ available NOTIFY availableChanged )
	Q_PROPERTY(int accepted READ accepted NOTIFY acceptedChanged )

	ViewModel( QObject *parent = 0 );
	~ViewModel() { }

	QAbstractListModel* availableItems()
		{ return m_availableItems; }

	QAbstractListModel* acceptedItems()
		{ return m_acceptedItems; }

	int available ()
		{ return m_availableItems->rowCount(); }

	int accepted ()
		{ return m_acceptedItems->rowCount(); }

	Q_INVOKABLE void onButtonClicked( int availableRow );

	void availableItemsChanged();
	void acceptedItemsChanged();
	void availableChanged();
	void acceptedChanged();

	QAbstractListModel* m_availableItems;
	QAbstractListModel* m_acceptedItems;


The ViewModel.cpp implementation of the ViewModel. This is of course a simple example. The idea is that ViewModels can be quite complicated while the view.qml remains simple:

#include <QStringListModel>

#include "ViewModel.h"

ViewModel::ViewModel( QObject *parent ) : QObject ( parent )
	QStringList available;
	QStringList accepted;

	available << "Two" << "Three" << "Four" << "Five";
	accepted << "One";

	m_availableItems = new QStringListModel( available, this );
	emit availableItemsChanged();

	m_acceptedItems = new QStringListModel( accepted, this );
	emit acceptedItemsChanged();

void ViewModel::onButtonClicked(int availableRow)
	QModelIndex availableIndex = m_availableItems->index( availableRow, 0, QModelIndex() );
	QVariant availableItem = m_availableItems->data( availableIndex, Qt::DisplayRole );

	int acceptedRow = m_acceptedItems->rowCount();

	m_acceptedItems->insertRows( acceptedRow, 1 );

	QModelIndex acceptedIndex = m_acceptedItems->index( acceptedRow, 0, QModelIndex() );
	m_acceptedItems->setData( acceptedIndex, availableItem );
	emit acceptedChanged();

	m_availableItems->removeRows ( availableRow, 1, QModelIndex() );
	emit availableChanged();

The view.qml. We’ll try to have as few JavaScript code as possible; the idea is that coding itself is done in the ViewModel. The view should only be view code (styling, UI, animations, etc). The import url and version are defined by the use of qmlRegisterType in the main.cpp file, lower:

import QtQuick 2.0
import QtQuick.Controls 1.2

import be.codeminded.ViewModelExample 1.0

Rectangle {
    id: root
    width: 640; height: 320

	property var viewModel: ViewModel { }

	Rectangle {
		id: left
		anchors.left: parent.left
		width: parent.width / 2
		ListView {
		    id: leftView
			anchors.left: parent.left
			anchors.right: parent.right

			delegate: rowDelegate
		        model: viewModel.availableItems
		Text {
			id: leftText
			anchors.left: parent.left
			anchors.right: parent.right
			anchors.bottom: parent.bottom
			height: 20
			text: viewModel.available

	Rectangle {
		id: right
		anchors.left: left.right
		anchors.right: parent.right
		ListView {
		    id: rightView
			anchors.left: parent.left
			anchors.right: parent.right

			delegate: rowDelegate
		        model: viewModel.acceptedItems
		Text {
			id: rightText
			anchors.left: parent.left
			anchors.right: parent.right
			anchors.bottom: parent.bottom
			height: 20
			text: viewModel.accepted

	Component {
		id: rowDelegate
		Rectangle {
			width: parent.width
			height: 20
			color: ListView.view.currentIndex == index ? "red" : "white"
			Text { text: 'Name:' + display }
			MouseArea {
				anchors.fill: parent
				onClicked: parent.ListView.view.currentIndex = index

	Button {
		id: button
		anchors.left: parent.left
		anchors.right: parent.right
		anchors.bottom: parent.bottom
		height: 20
	        text: "Accept item"
		onClicked: viewModel.onButtonClicked( leftView.currentIndex );

A main.cpp example. The qmlRegisterType defines the url to import in the view.qml file:

#include <QGuiApplication>
#include <QQuickView>
#include <QtQml>
#include <QAbstractListModel>

#include "ViewModel.h"

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
	QGuiApplication app(argc, argv);
	QQuickView view;
	qmlRegisterType<ViewModel>("be.codeminded.ViewModelExample", 1, 0, "ViewModel");
	return app.exec();

A file. Obviously should you use cmake nowadays. But oh well:

QT += quick
SOURCES += ViewModel.cpp main.cpp
HEADERS += ViewModel.h
RESOURCES += project.qrc

And a project.qrc file:

<RCC version="1.0">
<qresource prefix="/">

Geef vorm

We zijn goed. We tonen dat door ons respect voor privacy en veiligheid te combineren. Kennis is daar onontbeerlijk voor. Ik pleit voor investeren in techneuten die de twee beheersen.

Onze overheid moet niet alles investeren in miljoenen voor het bestrijden van computervredebreuk; wel ook investeren in betere software.

Belgische bedrijven maken soms software. Ze moeten aangemoedig worden, gestuurd, om het goede te doen.

Ik zou graag van ons centrum cybersecurity zien dat ze bedrijven aanmoedigt om goede en dus veilige software te maken. We moeten ook inzetten op repressie. Maar we moeten net zo veel inzetten op hoge kwaliteit.

Wij denken wel eens dat, ach, wij te klein zijn. Maar dat is niet waar. Als wij beslissen dat hier, in België, de software goed moet zijn: dan creërt dat een markt die zich zal aanpassen aan wat wij willen. Het is zaak standvastig te zijn.

Wanneer wij zeggen dat a – b hier welkom is, of niet, geven we vorm aan technologie.

Ik verwacht niet minder van mijn land. Geef vorm.

QML coding conventions checker that uses QML parser’s own abstract syntax tree

My colleague Henk Van Der Laak made a interesting tool that checks your code against the QML coding conventions. It uses the internal parser’s abstract syntax tree of Qt 5.6 and a visitor design.

It has a command line, but being developers ourselves we want an API too of course. Then we can integrate it in our development environments without having to use popen!

So this is how to use that API:

// Parse the code
QQmlJS::Engine engine;
QQmlJS::Lexer lexer(&engine);
QQmlJS::Parser parser(&engine);

QFileInfo info(a_filename);
bool isJavaScript = info.suffix().toLower() == QLatin1String("js");
lexer.setCode(code,  1, !isJavaScript);
bool success = isJavaScript ? parser.parseProgram() : parser.parse();
if (success) {
    // Check the code
    QQmlJS::AST::UiProgram *program = parser.ast();
    CheckingVisitor checkingVisitor(a_filename);
    foreach (const QString &warning, checkingVisitor.getWarnings()) {
        qWarning() << qPrintable(warning);

Item isChild of another Item in QML

Damned, QML is inconsistent! Things have a content, data or children. And apparently they can all mean the same thing. So how do we know if something is a child of something else?

After a failed stackoverflow search I gave up on copy-paste coding and invented the damn thing myself.

function isChild( a_child, a_parent ) {
	if ( a_parent === null ) {
		return false

	var tmp = ( a_parent.hasOwnProperty("content") ? a_parent.content
		: ( a_parent.hasOwnProperty("children") ? a_parent.children : ) )

	if ( tmp === null || tmp === undefined ) {
		return false

	for (var i = 0; i < tmp.length; ++i) {

		if ( tmp[i] === a_child ) {
			return true
		} else {
			if ( isChild ( a_child, tmp[i] ) ) {
				return true
	return false

Composition and aggregation to choose memory types in Qt

As we all know has Qt types like QPointerQSharedPointer and we know about its object trees. So when do we use what?

Let’s first go back to school, and remember the difference between composition and aggregation. Most of you probably remember drawings like this?

It thought us when to use composition, and when to use aggregation:

  • Use composition when the user can’t exist without the dependency. For example a Human can’t exist without a Head unless it ceases to be a human. You could also model Arm, Hand, Finger and Leg as aggregates but it might not make sense in your model (for a patient in a hospital perhaps it does?)
  • Use aggregate when the user can exist without the dependency: A car without a passenger is still a car in most models.

This model in the picture will for example tell us that a car’s passenger must have ten fingers.

But what does this have to do with QPointer, QSharedPointer and Qt’s object trees?

First situation is a shared composition. Both Owner1 and Owner2 can’t survive without Shared (composition, filled up diamonds). For this situation you would typically use a QSharedPointer<Shared> at Owner1 and Owner2:

If there is no other owner, then it’s probably better to just use Qt’s object trees and setParent() instead. Note that for example QML’s GC is not very well aware of QSharedPointer, but does seem to understand Qt’s object trees.

Second situation are shared users. User1 and User2 can stay alive when Shared goes away (aggregation, empty diamonds). In this situation you typically use a QPointer<Shared> at User1 and at User2. You want to be aware when Shared goes away. QPointer<Shared>’s isNull() will become true after that happened.

Third situation is a mixed one. In this case you could at Owner use a QSharedPointer<Shared> or a parented raw QObject pointer (using setParent()), but a QPointer<Shared> at User. When Owner goes away and its destructor (due to the parenting) deletes Shared, User can check for it using the previously mentioned isNull check.

Finally if you have a typical object tree, then use QObject’s infrastructure for this.