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Event Filters in Qt

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Article Metadata
Code ExampleTested with
Devices(s): N8
Platform(s): Symbian
Keywords: event filters, installEventFilter()
Created: somnathbanik (18 May 2015)
Last edited: hamishwillee (11 Oct 2012)

This article demonstrate how to use Qt Event Filters.


Basic Concept

QObject-based classes have an additional event handlers with which they react to their own events.

Event Filters allow an object A to receive the events of another object B. For each event of B that A receives, A can then either forward it to B or remove it from Bs event stream. Before using the filter events the Event Filter must be installed. To do this we call installEventFilter() in the constructor of the object A that is to monitor the events of object B.


Here b is a pointer to B. Now B gives up all its events to A and leaves A with the decision whether it should filter out the event or let it through to B.

For this purpose an eventFilter() method is used, which has the following signature:

bool QObject::eventFilter(QObject *watched, QEvent *e);

This must be reimplemented by A. The watched parameter allows events from several monitored objects to be distinguished from one another, and e is the event to be processed.

The return value tells the event system how it should proceed with the event. If false is returned, it is forwarded to the monitored object, whereas true causes it to be filtered out. This means that the event does not arrive at the object for which it was originally intended.


For this example we will create a chat dialog that sends the entered message when the Enter key is pressed. This text is entered into a QTextEdit - we use an event filters to change the default behaviour when Enter key is pressed, which was to start a line.


Class Declaration

#include <QMainWindow>
#include <QWidget>
#include "QVBoxLayout"
#include "QSplitter"
#include "QTextBrowser"
#include "QTextEdit"
#include "QKeyEvent"
class QTextBrowser;
class QTextEdit;
class QEvent;
namespace Ui {
class ChatWindow;
class ChatWindow : public QWidget
explicit ChatWindow(QWidget *parent = 0);
Ui::ChatWindow *ui;
bool eventFilter(QObject *watched, QEvent *e);
void submitChatText();
QTextBrowser *conversationView;
QTextEdit *chatEdit;
#endif // CHATWINDOW_H

The submitChatText() method is responsible for sending the text. In this example its only task consists of including the written text from the QTextEdit instance chatEdit into the conversationView. Pointers to each of these widgets are saved in member variables.

Class Implementation

Here we first define the constructor, We place a vertical splitter into the widget with a QVBoxLayout. The conversation view comes into the splitter at the top, followed by the actual input widget, chatEdit

ChatWindow::ChatWindow(QWidget *parent) :
QVBoxLayout *lay = new QVBoxLayout(this);
QSplitter *splitter = new QSplitter(Qt::Vertical, this);
conversationView = new QTextBrowser;
chatEdit = new QTextEdit;
setWindowTitle(tr("Chat Window"));
setTabOrder(chatEdit, conversationView);

Then we install the event filter in the input widget using installEventFilter(). The target is the ChatWindow object itself. The ChatWindow will filter the key press events of the chatEdit object and respond to them, so that we do not need to implement a specialized subclass of QTextEdit for this application.

Finally, we set the window title and use setTabOrder() to specify the order in which the widgets will be given focus. The call in this case has the effect that chatEdit obtains the focus before conversationView, so that the user can begin typing immediately after the program starts. At the same time chatEdit obtains the focus as soon as the show() method of a ChatWindow instance is called.

Now lets turn to the core item of the example, the eventFilter() method:

bool ChatWindow::eventFilter(QObject *watched, QEvent* e)
if (watched == chatEdit && e->type() == QEvent::KeyPress) {
QKeyEvent *ke = static_cast<QKeyEvent*>(e);
if (ke->key() == Qt::Key_Enter ||
ke->key() == Qt::Key_Return) {
return true;
return QWidget::eventFilter(watched, e);

We first use a pointer comparison to check whether the filter is currently handling chatEdit at all and whether the pressing of a key (QEvent::KeyPress) is involved.

Once we are sure of this, we cast the generic event e into its actual event type, QKeyEvent, with a static_cast. This is necessary to access the keypress event’s key() method, which we now use to check whether the key pressed is either the Enter key. If this is the case, we call submitChatText() and request Qt to filter the event with return true, that is, not to forward it to the chatWindow object. If the event is not a keypress event, we forward it to the parent class’s event filter.

The submitChatText() method, which would also be responsible for forwarding text in a real chat client, in our example only attaches the typed text to the conversation view and empties the text window.

void ChatWindow::submitChatText()
// append text as new paragraph
// clear chat window

We also check this class again for its functionality with a short test program, by starting an event loop via QApplication::exec(), after we have instantiated and displayed ChatWindow.

#include <QtGui/QApplication>
#include "chatwindow.h"
#include <QtGui>
int main(int argc, char *argv[])
QApplication a(argc, argv);
ChatWindow w;
return a.exec();

Source Code

The full source code presented in this article is available here

This page was last modified on 11 October 2012, at 01:16.
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