Expand description

Interface for interacting with the Wayland protocol, client-side.

General concepts

This crate is structured around four main objects: the Connection and EventQueue structs, proxies (objects implementing the Proxy trait), and the Dispatch trait.

The Connection is the heart of this crate, it represents you connection to the Wayland server, and you’ll generally initialize it using the Connection::connect_to_env() method, which will attempt to open a Wayland connection following the configuration specified by the environment.

Once you have a Connection, you can create an EventQueue from it. This EventQueue will take care of processing events from the Wayland server and delivering it to you processing logic, in the form of a state struct with several Dispatch implementations (see below).

Each of the Wayland object you can manipulate is represented by a struct implementing the Proxy trait. Thos structs are automatically generated from the wayland XML protocol specification. This crate provides the types generated from the core protocol in the protocol module. For other standard protocols, see the wayland-protocols crate.

Event dispatching

The core event dispatching logic provided by this crate is build around the EventQueue struct. In this paradigm, receiving and processing events is a two-step process:

  • First events are read from the Wayland socket, for each event the backend figures with EventQueue manages it, and enqueues the event in an internal buffer of that queue.
  • Then, the EventQueue empties its internal buffer by sequentially invoking the appropriate Dispatch::event() method on the State value that was provided to it.

The main goal of this structure is to make your State accessible without synchronization to most of your event-processing logic, to reduce the plumbing costs. See EventQueue documentation for explanations of how to drive your event loop using it and explanation about when and how to use multiple event queues in your app.

The Dispatch trait and dispatch delegation

In this paradigm, your State needs to implement Dispatch<O, _> for every Wayland object O it needs to process events for. This is ensured by the fact that, whenever creating an object using the methods on an other object, you need to pass a QueueHandle<State> from the EventQueue that will be managing the newly created object.

However, implementing all those traits on your own is a lot of (often uninteresting) work. To make this easier a composition mechanism is provided using the delegate_dispatch! macro. This way, another library (such as Smithay’s Client Toolkit) can provide generic Dispatch implementations that you can reuse on your own app by delegating those objects to that provided implementation. See the documentation of those traits and macro for details.

Getting started example

As an overview of how this crate is used, here is a commented example of a program that connects to the Wayland server and lists the globals this server advertized throught the wl_registry:

use wayland_client::{protocol::wl_registry, Connection, Dispatch, QueueHandle};
// This struct represents the state of our app. This simple app does not
// need any state, by this type still supports the `Dispatch` implementations.
struct AppData;

// Implement `Dispatch<WlRegistry, ()> for out state. This provides the logic
// to be able to process events for the wl_registry interface.
// The second type parameter is the user-data of our implementation. It is a
// mechanism that allows you to associate a value to each particular Wayland
// object, and allow different dispatching logic depending on the type of the
// associated value.
// In this example, we just use () as we don't have any value to associate. See
// the `Dispatch` documentation for more details about this.
impl Dispatch<wl_registry::WlRegistry, ()> for AppData {
    fn event(
        _state: &mut Self,
        _: &wl_registry::WlRegistry,
        event: wl_registry::Event,
        _: &(),
        _: &Connection,
        _: &QueueHandle<AppData>,
    ) {
        // When receiving events from the wl_registry, we are only interested in the
        // `global` event, which signals a new available global.
        // When receiving this event, we just print its characteristics in this example.
        if let wl_registry::Event::Global { name, interface, version } = event {
            println!("[{}] {} (v{})", name, interface, version);

// The main function of our program
fn main() {
    // Create a Wayland connection by connecting to the server through the
    // environment-provided configuration.
    let conn = Connection::connect_to_env().unwrap();

    // Retrieve the WlDisplay Wayland object from the connection. This object is
    // the starting point of any Wayland program, from which all other objects will
    // be created.
    let display = conn.display();

    // Create an event queue for our event processing
    let mut event_queue = conn.new_event_queue();
    // An get its handle to associated new objects to it
    let qh = event_queue.handle();

    // Create a wl_registry object by sending the wl_display.get_registry request
    // This method takes two arguments: a handle to the queue the newly created
    // wl_registry will be assigned to, and the user-data that should be associated
    // with this registry (here it is () as we don't need user-data).
    let _registry = display.get_registry(&qh, ());

    // At this point everything is ready, and we just need to wait to receive the events
    // from the wl_registry, our callback will print the advertized globals.
    println!("Advertized globals:");

    // To actually receive the events, we invoke the `sync_roundtrip` method. This method
    // is special and you will generally only invoke it during the setup of your program:
    // it will block until the server has received and processed all the messages you've
    // sent up to now.
    // In our case, that means it'll block until the server has received our
    // wl_display.get_registry request, and as a reaction has sent us a batch of
    // wl_registry.global events.
    // `sync_roundtrip` will then empty the internal buffer of the queue it has been invoked
    // on, and thus invoke our `Dispatch` implementation that prints the list of advertized
    // globals.
    event_queue.roundtrip(&mut AppData).unwrap();

Advanced use

Bypassing Dispatch

It may be that for some of your objects, handling them via the EventQueue is unpractical. For example if processing the events from those objects don’t require accessing some global state, and/or you need to handle them in a context where cranking an event loop is unpractical.

In those contexts, this crate also provides some escape-hatches to directly interface with the low-level APIs from wayland-backend, allowing you to register callbacks for those objects that will be invoked whenever they receive an event and any event queue from the program is being dispatched. Those callbacks are more constrained: they don’t get a &mut State reference, and must be threadsafe. See Proxy::send_constructor for details about how to assign such callbacks to objects.

Interaction with FFI

It can happen that you’ll need to interact with Wayland states accross FFI, a typical example would be if you need to use the raw-window-handle crate.

In this case, you’ll need to do it in two steps, by explicitly working with wayland-backend, adding it to your dependencies and enabling its client_system feature.

  • If you need to send pointers to FFI, you can retrive the *mut wl_proxy pointers from the proxies by first getting the ObjectId using the Proxy::id() method, and then the ObjectId::as_ptr() method.
  • If you need to receive pointers from FFI, you need to first create a Backend from the *mut wl_display using the from_external_display() method (see wayland-backend docs), and then make it into a Connection using Connection::from_backend(). Similarly, you can make ObjectIds from the *mut wl_proxy pointers using ObjectId::from_ptr(), and then make the proxies using Proxy::from_id.


This crate can generate some runtime error message (notably when a protocol error occurs). By default those messages are printed to stderr. If you activate the log cargo feature, they will instead be piped through the log crate.


Backend reexports

Helpers for handling the initialization of an app

Generated protocol definitions


A helper macro which delegates a set of Dispatch implementations for proxies to some other type which provides a generic Dispatch implementation.

A helper macro which delegates a set of Dispatch implementations for proxies to a static handler.


The Wayland connection

An event queue

A handle that temporarily pauses event processing on an EventQueue.

A handle representing an EventQueue, used to assign objects upon creation.

The ObjectData implementation used by Wayland proxies, integrating with Dispatch

A weak handle to a Wayland object


An error when trying to establish a Wayland connection.

Wayland dispatching error

An enum value in the protocol.


A trait providing an implementation for handling events a proxy through an EventQueue.

Trait representing a Wayland interface