12.9. Creating a KParts Plug-in
A plug-in is the way to implement some functionality out of a part but still in a shared library, with actions defined by the plug-in to access this functionality. Those actions, whose layout is described in XML as usual, can be merged in a part's user interface or in a mainwindow's, depending on whether it applies to a part or to an application.
Several reasons exist for using plug-ins. One is saving memory, because the plug-in is not loaded until one of its actions is called, but the main reason is reusability—the same plug-in can apply to several parts or applications. For instance, a spell-checker plug-in can apply to all kinds of text editors, mail composers, word processors, and even presenters.
A plug-in can have a user interface, such as the dialog box for the spell checker, but not necessarily. Plug-ins can also act directly on the part or the application or anything else.
The XML for a spell-checker plug-in is shown below:
Note the additional attribute in the main tag: library defines the name of the library to open to find the plug-in. This is because no .desktop file exists for plug-ins. Installing the preceding XML file in partplugins/, under share/apps/notepadpart, automatically inserts the plug-in's action in the NotepadPart user interface.
You know how the plug-in's library will be opened; now you need only to create a factory in the library, as usual, and let it create an instance of the plug-in. Writing the factory, which doesn't even need an instance in the simple case, and the init_libspellcheck() function will be left as an exercise to the reader.
To define a plug-in, simply inherit KParts::Plugin and add slots for its actions:
In the implementation, you have to create the plug-in actions; no setXMLFile is here because it has been found by the part already.
Because in this example you are not going to create a real spell checker—a libkspell exists for that— call the action "select current line" and implement that in the slot.
Note that to access the part's widget, the plug-in has to assume—and check—that it has been installed for a NotepadPart. This means that you should not install it under another part's directory. But selecting the current line in an image viewer wouldn't mean much anyway.
A more flexible plug-in would instead check and cast the parent to ReadWritePart and then check the type of its widget to be QMultiLineEdit.