Writing QML Modules

You should declare a QML module using the CMake QML Module API to:

  • Generate qmldir and *.qmltypes files.
  • Register C++ types annotated with QML_ELEMENT.
  • Combine QML files and C++-based types in the same module.
  • Invoke qmlcachegen on all QML files.
  • Use the pre-compiled versions of QML files inside the module.
  • Provide the module both in the physical and in the resource file system.
  • Create a backing library and an optional plugin. Link the backing library into the application to avoid loading the plugin at run time.

All the above actions can also be configured separately. For more information, see CMake QML Module API.

Multiple QML Modules in One Binary

You can add multiple QML modules into the same binary. Define a CMake target for each module and then link the targets to the executable. If the extra targets are all static libraries, the result will be one binary, which contains multiple QML modules. In short you can create an application like this:

    | - CMakeLists.txt
    | - main.cpp
    | - main.qml
    | - onething.h
    | - onething.cpp
    | - ExtraModule
        | - CMakeLists.txt
        | - Extra.qml
        | - extrathing.h
        | - extrathing.cpp

To begin, let's assume main.qml contains an instantiation of Extra.qml:

import ExtraModule
Extra { ... }

The extra module has to be a static library so that you can link it into the main program. Therefore, state as much in ExtraModule/CMakeLists.txt:

# Copyright (C) 2022 The Qt Company Ltd.
# SPDX-License-Identifier: LicenseRef-Qt-Commercial OR BSD-3-Clause

qt_add_library(extra_module STATIC)
    URI "ExtraModule"
    VERSION 1.0
        extrathing.cpp extrathing.h

This generates two targets: extra_module for the backing library, and extra_moduleplugin for the plugin. Being a static library too, the plugin cannot be loaded at runtime.

In myProject/CMakeLists.txt you need to specify the QML module that main.qml and any types declared in onething.h are part of:

qt_add_executable(main_program main.cpp)

    VERSION 1.0
    URI myProject
        onething.cpp onething.h


From there, you add the subdirectory for the extra module:


To ensure that linking the extra module works correctly, you need to:

  • Define a symbol in the extra module.
  • Create a reference to the symbol from the main program.

QML plugins contain a symbol you can use for this purpose. You can use the Q_IMPORT_QML_PLUGIN macro to create a reference to this symbol. Add the following code to the main.cpp:

#include <QtQml/QQmlExtensionPlugin>

ExtraModulePlugin is the name of the generated plugin class. It's composed of the module URI with Plugin appended to it. Then, in the main program's CMakeLists.txt, link the plugin, not the backing library, into the main program:

target_link_libraries(main_program PRIVATE extra_moduleplugin)


QML has a complex system to assign versions to components and modules. In most cases you should ignore all of it by:

  1. Never adding a version to your import statements
  2. Never specifying any versions in qt_add_qml_module
  4. Never using Q_REVISION or the REVISION() attribute in Q_PROPERTY
  5. Avoiding unqualified access
  6. Generously using import namespaces

Versioning is ideally handled outside the language itself. You may, for example, keep separate import paths for different sets of QML modules. Or you may use a versioning mechanism provided by your operating system to install or uninstall packages with QML modules.

In some cases, Qt's own QML modules may show different behavior, depending on what version is imported. In particular, if a property is added to a QML component, and your code contains unqualified access to another property of the same name, your code will break. In the following example, the code will behave differently depending on the version of Qt, because the topLeftRadius property was added in Qt 6.7:

import QtQuick

Item {
    // property you want to use
    property real topLeftRadius: 24

    Rectangle {

        // correct for Qt version < 6.7 but uses Rectangle's topLeftRadius in 6.7
        objectName: "top left radius:" + topLeftRadius

The solution here is to avoid the unqualified access. qmllint can be used to find such problems. The following example accesses the property you actually mean in a safe, qualified way:

import QtQuick

Item {
    id: root

    // property you want to use
    property real topLeftRadius: 24

    Rectangle {

        // never mixes up topLeftRadius with unrelated Rectangle's topLeftRadius
        objectName: "top left radius:" + root.topLeftRadius

You can also avoid the incompatibility by importing a specific version of QtQuick:

// make sure Rectangle has no topLeftRadius property
import QtQuick 6.6

Item {
    property real topLeftRadius: 24
    Rectangle {
        objectName: "top left radius:" + topLeftRadius

Another problem solved by versioning is the fact that QML components imported by different modules may shadow each other. In the following example, if MyModule were to introduce a component named Rectangle in a newer version, the Rectangle created by this document would not be a QQuickRectangle anymore, but rather the new Rectangle introduced by MyModule.

import QtQuick
import MyModule

Rectangle {
    // MyModule's Rectangle, not QtQuick's

A good way to avoid the shadowing would be to import QtQuick and/or MyModule into type namespaces as follows:

import QtQuick as QQ
import MyModule as MM

QQ.Rectangle {
   // QtQuick's Rectangle

Alternatively, if you import MyModule with a fixed version, and the new component receives a correct version tag via QML_ADDED_IN_VERSION or QT_QML_SOURCE_VERSIONS, the shadowing is also avoided:

import QtQuick 6.6

// Types introduced after 1.0 are not available, like Rectangle for example
import MyModule 1.0

Rectangle {
    // QtQuick's Rectangle

For this to work, you need to use versions in MyModule. There are a few things to be aware of.

If you add versions, add them everywhere

You need to add a VERSION attribute to qt_add_qml_module. The version should be the most recent version provided by your module. Older minor versions of the same major version will automatically be registered. For older major versions, see below.

You should add QML_ADDED_IN_VERSION or QT_QML_SOURCE_VERSIONS to every type that was not introduced in version x.0 of your module, where x is the current major version.

If you forget to add a version tag, the component will be available in all versions, making the versioning ineffective.

However, there is no way to add versions to properties, methods, and signals defined in QML. The only way to version QML documents is to add a new document with separate QT_QML_SOURCE_VERSIONS for each change.

Versions are not transitive

If a component from your module A imports another module B and instantiates a type from that module as the root element, then the import version of B is relevant for the properties available from the resulting component, no matter what version of A is imported by a user.

Consider a file TypeFromA.qml with version 2.6 in module A:

import B 2.7

// Exposes TypeFromB 2.7, no matter what version of A is imported
TypeFromB { }

Now consider a user of TypeFromA:

import A 2.6

// This is TypeFromB 2.7.
TypeFromA { }

The user hopes to see version 2.6 but actually gets version 2.7 of the base class TypeFromB.

Therefore, in order to be safe, you not only have to duplicate your QML files and give them new versions when you add properties yourself, but also when you bump versions of modules you import.

Qualified access does not honor versioning

Versioning only affects unqualified access to members of a type or the type itself. In the example with topLeftRadius, if you write this.topLeftRadius, the property will be resolved if you're using Qt 6.7, even if you import QtQuick 6.6.

Versions and revisions

With QML_ADDED_IN_VERSION, and the two-argument variants of Q_REVISION and Q_PROPERTY's REVISION(), you can only declare versions that are tightly coupled to the metaobject's revision as exposed in QMetaMethod::revision and QMetaProperty::revision. This means all the types in your type hierarchy have to follow the same versioning scheme. This includes any types provided by Qt itself that you inherit from.

With qmlRegisterType and related functions you can register any mapping between metaobject revisions and type versions. You then need to use the one-argument forms of Q_REVISION and the REVISION attribute of Q_PROPERTY. However, this can become rather complex and confusing and is not recommended.

Exporting multiple major versions from the same module

qt_add_qml_module by default considers the major version given in its VERSION argument, even if the individual types declare other versions in their added specific version via QT_QML_SOURCE_VERSIONS or Q_REVISION. If a module is available under more than one version, you also need to decide what versions the individual QML files are available under. To declare further major versions, you can use the PAST_MAJOR_VERSIONS option to qt_add_qml_module as well as the QT_QML_SOURCE_VERSIONS property on individual QML files.

        QT_QML_SOURCE_VERSIONS "1.4;2.0;3.0"

        QT_QML_SOURCE_VERSIONS "2.2;3.0"

    URI MyModule
    VERSION 3.2
        1 2
        everything.cpp everything.h

MyModule is available in major versions 1, 2, and 3. The maximum version available is 3.2. You can import any version 1.x or 2.x with a positive x. For Thing.qml and OtherThing.qml we have added explicit version information. Thing.qml is available from version 1.4, and OtherThing.qml is available from version 2.2. You have to specify the later versions, too, in each set_source_files_properties() because you may remove QML files from a module when bumping the major version. There is no explicit version information for OneMoreThing.qml. This means that OneMoreThing.qml is available in all major versions, from minor version 0.

With this setup, the generated registration code will register the module versions using qmlRegisterModule() for each of the major versions. This way, all versions can be imported.

Custom Directory Layouts

The easiest way to structure QML modules is to keep them in directories named by their URIs. For example, a module My.Extra.Module would live in a directory My/Extra/Module relative to the application that uses it. This way, they can easily be found at run time and by any tools.

In more complex projects, this convention can be too limiting. You might for instance want to group all QML modules in one place to avoid polluting the project's root directory. Or you want to reuse a single module in multiple applications. For those cases, QT_QML_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY in combination with RESOURCE_PREFIX and IMPORT_PATH can be used.

To collect QML modules into a specific output directory, for example a subdirectory "qml" in the build directory QT_QML_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY, set the following in the top-level CMakeLists.txt:


The output directories of QML modules move to the new location. Likewise, the qmllint and qmlcachegen invocations are automatically adapted to use the new output directory as an import path. Because the new output directory is not part of the default QML import path, you have to add it explicitly at run time, so that the QML modules can be found.

Now that the physical file system is taken care of, you may still want to move the QML modules into a different place in the resource file system. This is what the RESOURCE_PREFIX option is for. You have to specify it separately in each qt_add_qml_module. The QML module will then be placed under the specified prefix, with a target path generated from the URI appended. For example, consider the following module:

    URI My.Great.Module
    VERSION 1.0
    RESOURCE_PREFIX /example.com/qml

This will add a directory example.com/qml/My/Great/Module to the resource file system and place the QML module defined above in it. You don't strictly need to add the resource prefix to the QML import path as the module can still be found in the physical file system. However, it generally is a good idea to add the resource prefix to the QML import path because loading from the resource file system is faster than loading from the physical file system for most modules.

If the QML modules are meant to be used in a larger project with multiple import paths, you'll have to do an additional step: Even if you add the import paths at run time, tooling like qmllint does not have access to it, and might fail to find the correct dependencies. Use IMPORT_PATH to tell tooling about the additional paths it has to consider. For example:

    URI My.Dependent.Module
    VERSION 1.0
    IMPORT_PATH "/some/where/else"

Eliminating Run Time File System Access

If all QML modules are always loaded from the resource file system, you can deploy the application as a single binary.

If QTP0001 policy is set to NEW, the RESOURCE_PREFIX argument for qt_add_qml_module() defaults to /qt/qml/, therefore your modules are placed in :/qt/qml/ in the resource file system. This is part of the default QML Import Path, but not used by Qt itself. For modules to be used within your application, this is the right place.

If you have instead specified a custom RESOURCE_PREFIX, you have to add the custom resource prefix to the QML Import Path. You can also add multiple resource prefixes:

QQmlEngine qmlEngine;
// Use qmlEngine to load the main.qml file.

This might be necessary when using third party libraries to avoid module name conflicts. Using a custom resource prefix is discouraged in all other cases.

The path :/qt-project.org/imports/ is also part of the default QML Import Path. For modules that are heavily re-used across different projects or Qt versions, :/qt-project.org/imports/ is acceptable as resource prefix. Qt's own QML modules are placed there, though. You have to be careful not to overwrite them.

Do not add any unnecessary import paths. The QML engine might find your modules in the wrong place then. This can trigger problems which can only be reproduced in specific environments.

Integrating custom QML plugins

If you bundle an image provider in the QML module, you need to implement the QQmlEngineExtensionPlugin::initializeEngine() method. This, in turn, makes it necessary to write your own plugin. To support this use case, NO_GENERATE_PLUGIN_SOURCE can be used.

Let's consider a module that provides its own plugin source:

    VERSION 1.0
    URI "ImageProvider"
    PLUGIN_TARGET imageproviderplugin
    CLASS_NAME ImageProviderExtensionPlugin
        moretypes.cpp moretypes.h
        myimageprovider.cpp myimageprovider.h

You may declare an image provider in myimageprovider.h, like this:

class MyImageProvider : public QQuickImageProvider

In plugin.cpp you can then define the QQmlEngineExtensionPlugin:

#include <myimageprovider.h>
#include <QtQml/qqmlextensionplugin.h>

class ImageProviderExtensionPlugin : public QQmlEngineExtensionPlugin
    Q_PLUGIN_METADATA(IID QQmlEngineExtensionInterface_iid)
    void initializeEngine(QQmlEngine *engine, const char *uri) final
        engine->addImageProvider("myimg", new MyImageProvider);

This will make the image provider available. The plugin and the backing library both are in the same CMake target imageproviderplugin. This is done so that the linker does not drop parts of the module in various scenarios.

As the plugin creates an image provider, it no longer has a trivial initializeEngine function. Therefore, the plugin is no longer optional.

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