SampleBinding Example

This example showcases how you can use Shiboken to generate CPython-based binding code for a C++ library. The C++ library is called Universe, with two classes: Icecream and Truck. Ice-creams are characterized by their flavor, and Truck serves as a vehicle of Icecream distribution for kids in a neighborhood.

First, let’s look at the definition of the two classes:

 class Icecream
     Icecream(const std::string &flavor);
     virtual Icecream *clone();
     virtual ~Icecream();
     virtual const std::string getFlavor();

     std::string m_flavor;
 class Truck {
     Truck(bool leaveOnDestruction = false);
     Truck(const Truck &other);
     Truck& operator=(const Truck &other);

     void addIcecreamFlavor(Icecream *icecream);
     void printAvailableFlavors() const;

     bool deliver() const;
     void arrive() const;
     void leave() const;

     void setLeaveOnDestruction(bool value);
     void setArrivalMessage(const std::string &message);

     void clearFlavors();

     bool m_leaveOnDestruction = false;
     std::string m_arrivalMessage = "A new icecream truck has arrived!\n";
     std::vector m_flavors;

Here’s a summary of what’s included in the Universe library:

  • The Icecream polymorphic type, which is intended to be overridden.

  • The Icecream::getFlavor() method returns the flavor depending on the actual derived type.

  • The Truck value type that contains pointers, hence the copy constructor.

  • Truck stores the Icecream objects in a vector, which can be modified via Truck::addIcecreamFlavor().

  • The Truck’s arrival message can be customized using its setArrivalMessage() method.

  • The Truck::deliver() method tells us if the ice-cream delivery was successful.

Shiboken typesystem

Now that the library definitions are in place, the Shiboken generator needs a header file that includes the types we are interested in:

 #ifndef BINDINGS_H
 #define BINDINGS_H
 #include "icecream.h"
 #include "truck.h"
 #endif // BINDINGS_H

In addition, Shiboken also requires an XML-based typesystem file that defines the relationship between C++ and Python types:

 <?xml version="1.0"?>
 <typesystem package="Universe">
     <primitive-type name="bool"/>
     <primitive-type name="std::string"/>
     <object-type name="Icecream">
         <modify-function signature="clone()">
             <modify-argument index="0">
                 <define-ownership owner="c++"/>
     <value-type name="Truck">
         <modify-function signature="addIcecreamFlavor(Icecream*)">
             <modify-argument index="1">
                 <define-ownership owner="c++"/>

One important thing to notice here is that we declare "bool" and "std::string" as primitive types. These types are used by some of the C++ methods as parameters or return types, so Shiboken must know about them. Then, Shiboken can generate relevant conversion code between C++ and Python, although most C++ primitive types are handled by Shiboken without additional code.

Next, we declare the two aforementioned classes. One of them as an “object-type” and the other as a “value-type”. The main difference is that object-types are passed around in generated code as pointers, whereas value-types are copied (value semantics).

By specifying the names of these classes in the typesystem file, Shiboken automatically tries to generate bindings for all methods of those classes. You need not mention all the methods manually in the XML file, unless you want to modify them.

Object ownership rules

Shiboken doesn’t know if Python or C++ are responsible for freeing the C++ objects that were allocated in the Python code, and assuming this might lead to errors. There can be cases where Python should release the C++ memory when the reference count of the Python object becomes zero, but it should never delete the underlying C++ object just from assuming that it will not be deleted by underlying C++ library, or if it’s maybe parented to another object (like QWidgets).

In our case, the clone() method is only called inside the C++ library, and we assume that the C++ code takes care of releasing the cloned object.

As for addIcecreamFlavor(), we know that a Truck owns the Icecream object, and will remove it once the Truck is destroyed. That’s why the ownership is set to “c++” in the typesystem file, so that the C++ objects are not deleted when the corresponding Python names go out of scope.


To build the Universe custom library and then generate bindings for it, use the CMakeLists.txt file provided with the example. Later, you can reuse the file for your own libraries with minor changes.

Now, run the "cmake ." command from the prompt to configure the project and build with the toolchain of your choice; we recommend the ‘(N)Makefiles’ generator.

As a result, you end up with two shared libraries: libuniverse.(so/dylib/dll) and Universe.(so/pyd). The former is the custom C++ library, and the latter is the Python module to import in your Python script.

For more details about these platforms, see the file.

Use the Python module

The following script uses the Universe module, derives a few types from Icecream, implements virtual methods, instantiates objects, and much more:
 from Universe import Icecream, Truck

 class VanillaChocolateIcecream(Icecream):
     def __init__(self, flavor=""):
         super(VanillaChocolateIcecream, self).__init__(flavor)

     def clone(self):
         return VanillaChocolateIcecream(self.getFlavor())

     def getFlavor(self):
         return "vanilla sprinked with chocolate"

 class VanillaChocolateCherryIcecream(VanillaChocolateIcecream):
     def __init__(self, flavor=""):
         super(VanillaChocolateIcecream, self).__init__(flavor)

     def clone(self):
         return VanillaChocolateCherryIcecream(self.getFlavor())

     def getFlavor(self):
         base_flavor = super(VanillaChocolateCherryIcecream, self).getFlavor()
         return base_flavor + " and a cherry"

 if __name__ == '__main__':
     leave_on_destruction = True
     truck = Truck(leave_on_destruction)

     flavors = ["vanilla", "chocolate", "strawberry"]
     for f in flavors:
         icecream = Icecream(f)


     result = truck.deliver()

     if result:
         print("All the kids got some icecream!")
         print("Aww, someone didn't get the flavor they wanted...")

     if not result:
         special_truck = Truck(truck)
         del truck

         special_truck.setArrivalMessage("A new SPECIAL icecream truck has arrived!\n")
         special_truck.addIcecreamFlavor(Icecream("SPECIAL *magical* icecream"))
         print("Now everyone got the flavor they wanted!")

After importing the classes from the Universe module, it derives two types from Icecream for different “flavors”. It then creates a truck to deliver some regular flavored Icecreams and two special ones.

If the delivery fails, a new truck is created with the old flavors copied over, and a new magical flavor that will surely satisfy all customers.

Try running it to see if the ice creams are delivered.


You can find the sources for this example under <PYTHON_ENV_ROOT>/site-packages/lib/PySide6/examples/samplebinding.

Refer to the following topics for detailed information about using Shiboken: