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Torsten Schönfeld
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Glib::Object::Introspection - Dynamically create Perl language bindings


  use Glib::Object::Introspection;
    basename => 'Gtk',
    version => '3.0',
    package => 'Gtk3');
  # now GtkWindow, to mention just one example, is available as
  # Gtk3::Window, and you can call gtk_window_new as Gtk3::Window->new


Glib::Object::Introspection uses the gobject-introspection and libffi projects to dynamically create Perl bindings for a wide variety of libraries. Examples include gtk+, webkit, libsoup and many more.



To allow Glib::Object::Introspection to create bindings for a library, it must have installed a typelib file, for example $prefix/lib/girepository-1.0/Gtk-3.0.typelib. In your code you then simply call Glib::Object::Introspection->setup to set everything up. This method takes a couple of key-value pairs as arguments. These three are mandatory:

basename => $basename

The basename of the library that should be wrapped. If your typelib is called Gtk-3.0.typelib, then the basename is 'Gtk'.

version => $version

The particular version of the library that should be wrapped, in string form. For Gtk-3.0.typelib, it is '3.0'.

package => $package

The name of the Perl package where every class and method of the library should be rooted. If a library with basename 'Gtk' contains an object 'GtkWindow', and you pick as the package 'Gtk3', then that object will be available as 'Gtk3::Window'.

The rest are optional:

search_path => $search_path

A path that should be used when looking for typelibs. If you use typelibs from system directories, or if your environment is set up correctly, then this should not be necessary.

name_corrections => { auto_name => new_name, ... }

A hash ref that is used to rename functions and methods. Use this if you don't like the automatically generated mapping for a function or method. For example, if g_file_hash is automatically represented as Glib::IO::file_hash but you want Glib::IO::File::hash then pass

  name_corrections => {
    'Glib::IO::file_hash' => 'Glib::IO::File::hash'
class_static_methods => [ function1, ... ]

An array ref of function names that you want to be treated as class-static methods. That is, if you want be able to call Gtk3::Window::list_toplevels as Gtk3::Window->list_toplevels, then pass

  class_static_methods => [

The function names refer to those after name corrections.

flatten_array_ref_return_for => [ function1, ... ]

An array ref of function names that return an array ref that you want to be flattened so that they return plain lists. For example

  flatten_array_ref_return_for => [

The function names refer to those after name corrections. Functions occuring in flatten_array_ref_return_for may also occur in class_static_methods.

handle_sentinel_boolean_for => [ function1, ... ]

An array ref of function names that return multiple values, the first of which is to be interpreted as indicating whether the rest of the returned values are valid. This frequently occurs with functions that have out arguments; the boolean then indicates whether the out arguments have been written. With handle_sentinel_boolean_for, the first return value is taken to be the sentinel boolean. If it is true, the rest of the original return values will be returned, and otherwise an empty list will be returned.

  handle_sentinel_boolean_for => [

The function names refer to those after name corrections. Functions occuring in handle_sentinel_boolean_for may also occur in class_static_methods.

reblessers => { package => \&reblesser, ... }

Tells G:O:I to invoke reblesser whenever a Perl object is created for an object of type package. Currently, this only applies to boxed unions. The reblesser gets passed the pre-created Perl object and needs to return the modified Perl object. For example:

  sub Gtk3::Gdk::Event::_rebless {
    my ($event) = @_;
    return bless $event, lookup_real_package_for ($event);


To invoke specific functions manually, you can use the low-level Glib::Object::Introspection->invoke.

    $basename, $namespace, $function, @args)
  • $basename is the basename of a library, like 'Gtk'.

  • $namespace refers to a namespace inside that library, like 'Window'. Use undef here if you want to call a library-global function.

  • $function is the name of the function you want to invoke. It can also refer to the name of a constant.

  • @args are the arguments that should be passed to the function. For a method, this should include the invocant. For a constructor, this should include the package name.

Glib::Object::Introspection->invoke returns whatever the function being invoked returns.


To override the behavior of a specific function or method, create an appropriately named sub in the correct package and have it call Glib::Object::Introspection->invoke. Say you want to override Gtk3::Window::list_toplevels, then do this:

  sub Gtk3::Window::list_toplevels {
    # ...do something...
    my $ref = Glib::Object::Introspection->invoke (
                'Gtk', 'Window', 'list_toplevels',
    # ...do something...
    return wantarray ? @$ref : $ref->[$#$ref];

The sub's name and package must be those after name corrections.

Converting a Perl variable to a GValue

If you need to marshal into a GValue, then Glib::Object::Introspection cannot do this automatically because the type information is missing. If you do have this information in your module, however, you can use Glib::Object::Introspection::GValueWrapper to do the conversion. In the wrapper for a function that expects a GValue, do this:

  my $type = ...; # somehow get the package name that
                  # corresponds to the correct GType
  my $real_value =
    Glib::Object::Introspection::GValueWrapper->new ($type, $value);
  # now use Glib::Object::Introspection->invoke and
  # substitute $real_value where you'd use $value


gobject-introspection: http://live.gnome.org/GObjectIntrospection
libffi: http://sourceware.org/libffi/


Emmanuele Bassi <ebassi at linux intel com>
muppet <scott asofyet org>
Torsten Schönfeld <kaffeetisch at gmx de>


This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the Lesser General Public License (LGPL). For more information, see http://www.fsf.org/licenses/lgpl.txt