QtQml Scope and Naming Resolution

QML property bindings, inline functions, and imported JavaScript files all run in a JavaScript scope. Scope controls which variables an expression can access, and which variable takes precedence when two or more names conflict.

As JavaScript’s built-in scope mechanism is very simple, QML enhances it to fit more naturally with the QML language extensions.

QML’s scope extensions do not interfere with JavaScript’s natural scoping. JavaScript programmers can reuse their existing knowledge when programming functions, property bindings or imported JavaScript files in QML.

In the following example, the addConstant() method will add 13 to the parameter passed just as the programmer would expect irrespective of the value of the QML object’s a and b properties.

QtObject {
    property int a: 3
    property int b: 9
    function addConstant(b) {
        var a = 13;
        return b + a;
    }
}

That QML respects JavaScript’s normal scoping rules even applies in bindings. This totally evil, abomination of a binding will assign 12 to the QML object’s a property.

QtObject {
    property int a
    a: { var a = 12; a; }
}

Every JavaScript expression, function or file in QML has its own unique variable object. Local variables declared in one will never conflict with local variables declared in another.

QML Documents include import statements that define the type names and JavaScript files visible to the document. In addition to their use in the QML declaration itself, type names are used by JavaScript code when accessing attached properties and enumeration values.

The effect of an import applies to every property binding, and JavaScript function in the QML document, even those in nested inline components. The following example shows a simple QML file that accesses some enumeration values and calls an imported JavaScript function.

import QtQuick 2.0
import "code.js" as Code
ListView {
    snapMode: ListView.SnapToItem
    delegate: Component {
        Text {
            elide: Text.ElideMiddle
            text: "A really, really long string that will require eliding."
            color: Code.defaultColor()
        }
    }
}

An object which has a property binding is known has the binding’s scope object. In the following example, the Item object is the binding’s scope object.

Item {
    anchors.left: parent.left
}

Bindings have access to the scope object’s properties without qualification. In the previous example, the binding accesses the Item’s parent property directly, without needing any form of object prefix. QML introduces a more structured, object-oriented approach to JavaScript, and consequently does not require the use of the JavaScript this property.

Care must be used when accessing attached properties from bindings due to their interaction with the scope object. Conceptually attached properties exist on all objects, even if they only have an effect on a subset of those. Consequently unqualified attached property reads will always resolve to an attached property on the scope object, which is not always what the programmer intended.

For example, the PathView type attaches interpolated value properties to its delegates depending on their position in the path. As PathView only meaningfully attaches these properties to the root object in the delegate, any sub-object that accesses them must explicitly qualify the root object, as shown below.

PathView {
    delegate: Component {
        Rectangle {
            id: root
            Image {
                scale: root.PathView.scale
            }
        }
    }
}

If the Image object omitted the root prefix, it would inadvertently access the unset PathView.scale attached property on itself.

Each QML component in a QML document defines a logical scope. Each document has at least one root component, but can also have other inline sub-components. The component scope is the union of the object ids within the component and the component’s root object’s properties.

Item {
    property string title
    Text {
        id: titletype
        text: "<b>" + title + "</b>"
        font.pixelSize: 22
        anchors.top: parent.top
    }
    Text {
        text: titletype.text
        font.pixelSize: 18
        anchors.bottom: parent.bottom
    }
}

The example above shows a simple QML component that displays a rich text title string at the top, and a smaller copy of the same text at the bottom. The first Text type directly accesses the component’s title property when forming the text to display. That the root type’s properties are directly accessible makes it trivial to distribute data throughout the component.

The second Text type uses an id to access the first’s text directly. IDs are specified explicitly by the QML programmer so they always take precedence over other property names (except for those in the JavaScript Scope ). For example, in the unlikely event that the binding’s scope object had a titletype property in the previous example, the titletype id would still take precedence.

In QML, component instances connect their component scopes together to form a scope hierarchy. Component instances can directly access the component scopes of their ancestors.

The easiest way to demonstrate this is with inline sub-components whose component scopes are implicitly scoped as children of the outer component.

Item {
    property color defaultColor: "blue"
    ListView {
        delegate: Component {
            Rectangle {
                color: defaultColor
            }
        }
    }
}

The component instance hierarchy allows instances of the delegate component to access the defaultColor property of the Item type. Of course, had the delegate component had a property called defaultColor that would have taken precedence.

The component instance scope hierarchy extends to out-of-line components, too. In the following example, the TitlePage.qml component creates two TitleText instances. Even though the TitleText type is in a separate file, it still has access to the title property when it is used from within the TitlePage. QML is a dynamically scoped language - depending on where it is used, the title property may resolve differently.

// TitlePage.qml
import QtQuick 2.0
Item {
    property string title
    TitleText {
        size: 22
        anchors.top: parent.top
    }
    TitleText {
        size: 18
        anchors.bottom: parent.bottom
    }
}
// TitleText.qml
import QtQuick 2.0
Text {
    property int size
    text: "<b>" + title + "</b>"
    font.pixelSize: size
}

Dynamic scoping is very powerful, but it must be used cautiously to prevent the behavior of QML code from becoming difficult to predict. In general it should only be used in cases where the two components are already tightly coupled in another way. When building reusable components, it is preferable to use property interfaces, like this:

// TitlePage.qml
import QtQuick 2.0
Item {
    id: root
    property string title
    TitleText {
        title: root.title
        size: 22
        anchors.top: parent.top
    }
    TitleText {
        title: root.title
        size: 18
        anchors.bottom: parent.bottom
    }
}
// TitleText.qml
import QtQuick 2.0
Text {
    property string title
    property int size
    text: "<b>" + title + "</b>"
    font.pixelSize: size
}

QML permits property names defined in an object declaration to be overridden by properties declared within another object declaration that extends the first. For example:

// Displayable.qml
import QtQuick 2.0
Item {
    property string title
    property string detail
    Text {
        text: "<b>" + title + "</b><br>" + detail
    }
    function getTitle() { return title }
    function setTitle(newTitle) { title = newTitle }
}
// Person.qml
import QtQuick 2.0
Displayable {
    property string title
    property string firstName
    property string lastName
    function fullName()  { return title + " " + firstName + " " + lastName }
}

Here, the name title is given to both the heading of the output text for Displayable, and also to the honorific title of the Person object.

An overridden property is resolved according to the scope in which it is referenced. Inside the scope of the Person component, or from an external scope that refers to an instance of the Person component, title resolves to the property declared inside Person.qml. The fullName function will refer to the title property declared inside Person.

Inside the Displayable component, however, title refers to the property declared in Displayable.qml. The getTitle() and setTitle() functions, and the binding for the text property of the Text object will all refer to the title property declared in the Displayable component.

Despite sharing the same name, the two properties are entirely separate. An onChanged signal handler for one of the properties will not be triggered by a change to the other property with the same name. An alias to either property will refer to one or the other, but not both.

QML disallows type, id and property names that conflict with the properties on the global object to prevent any confusion. Programmers can be confident that Math.min(10, 9) will always work as expected!

See JavaScript Host Environment for more information.