extrawurst's blog

#dlang, annotations and menus

• dlang, metaprogramming, and imgui

What do menus and annotations have to do with the D programming language ? These three aspects form a very nice little system in my current spare time project of a game engine called unecht.

The whole engine borrows a lot of ideas and concepts from the Unity3D game engine and one of these concepts is the way the editor is extendable through user scripts in a conveniant way.

In any user defined class Unity3D allows you to define a static function that automatically appears in the editor menu when annotated like this:

[MenuItem ("MyMenu/Do Something")]
static void DoSomething () {
Debug.Log ("Doing Something...");
}

Clicking this menu entry will call the DoSomething function. I like this design a lot, it is simple and easy to grasp.

So unecht mimicks this behaviour fairly similar with code like this:

@MenuItem("MyMenu/Do Something")
static void DoSomething () {
...
}

The only difference is that this code is compiled and that the whole magic for this to work happens at compile time. In this implementation though I improved the design for validation functions (These functions get called to determine if a certain menu item should be enabled right now). Unity3D makes you annotate these functions in a very specific way so that they match the name of the menuItem they correspond to. Errors like typos or a wrong signature are first caught at runtime.

In unecht it is as simple as adding a second parameter to the annotation which has to be another static method that returns a boolean:

static bool ValidateDoSomething () {return true;}

@MenuItem("MyMenu/Do Something", &ValidateDoSomething)
static void DoSomething () {
...
}

If the validation function has a wrong signature or there is some typo these errors are all get caught already at compile time.

The end result is demonstrated here: menu demo

Elegant implementations like these allowing such simple designs in the user code are what I like about D. Although I am still missing a good getUDA/hasUDA method in the standard library to query for type annotations in D! It is a shame that these are being implemented by everyone in their libraries again and again.

For reference: the GUI itself uses cimgui (see my post about cimgui here) wrapped for D based upon the fantastic imgui c++ library by omar cornut. I am using the about to be released 1.39 version here that supports the new menu API.

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