GNOME JavaScript Introduction

Welcome to GNOME JavaScript (GJS)! This introduction covers the basics of how JavaScript is used with GJS. More detailed information about GJS is available in the GJS Usage Documentationopen in new window.

Platform and API

Many APIs that JavaScript developers are familiar with are actually a part of the Web APIopen in new window, such as DOM or Fetch. GJS is not intended as an environment for web development and does not include support for most of these APIs.

GNOME Platform

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GNOME Platform APIs are documented at gjs-docs.gnome.orgopen in new window

GJS provides JavaScript bindings for the GNOME platform libraries, meaning that developers will use libraries like Gioopen in new window for working with files, Gtkopen in new window to build user interfaces, Soupopen in new window for WebSockets and so on.

Web APIs

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See the documentation on GJS Usageopen in new window for details about built-in modules and APIs.

Since the adoption of ES Modules, GJS has gained support for some widely used standards from the Web APIopen in new window. These APIs may be more familiar to developers that have used other JavaScript environments.

Console API

As of GJS 1.70 (GNOME 41), the Console API is available as described in the WHATWG Console Standardopen in new window. The console object is available globally without import.

Encoding API

As of GJS 1.70 (GNOME 41), the Encoding API is available as described in the WHATWG Encoding Standardopen in new window. The TextDecoder and TextEncoder objects are available globally without import.

Timers API

As of GJS 1.70 (GNOME 41), the Timers API is available as described in the WHATWG HTML Standardopen in new window. The setTimeout(), setInterval(), clearTimeout() and clearInterval() methods are available globally without import.

Imports and Modules

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See the Extensions Documentation for ES Module usage in GNOME Shell Extensions.

GJS uses standard ES Modules for imports and modules, but includes additional specifiers for platform libraries like Gtk.

ES Modules

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See the GJS Documentationopen in new window for details about using ES Modules in GJS.

As of GJS 1.68 (GNOME 40), standard ES Modulesopen in new window are supported and the preferred import method.

/* GJS's Built-in modules have custom specifiers */
import Cairo from 'cairo';
import Gettext from 'gettext';
import System from 'system';

/* Platform libraries use the gi:// URI in the specifier */
import GLib from 'gi://GLib';
import Gio from 'gi://Gio';

/* Platform libraries with multiple versions may be defined at import */
import Gtk from 'gi://Gtk?version=4.0';

/* User modules may be imported using a relative path
 *
 * `utils.js` is in the subdirectory `lib`, relative to the current path. The
 * file extension is included in the import specifier.
 */
import * as Utils from './lib/utils.js';

Legacy Imports

WARNING

ES Modules should be preferred for new projects and existing projects should migrate when possible.

Prior to the ECMAScript standard for modules, GJS used a custom imports object.

/* GJS's Built-in modules are top-level properties */
const Cairo = imports.cairo;
const Gettext = imports.gettext;
const System = imports.system;

/* Platform libraries are properties of `gi` the object */
const GLib = imports.gi.GLib;
const Gio = imports.gi.Gio;

/* Platform libraries with multiple versions must be defined before import */
imports.gi.versions.Gtk = '4.0';
const Gtk = imports.gi.Gtk;

/* User modules may be imported using a relative path
 *
 * `utils.js` is in the subdirectory `lib`, relative to the current path. The
 * file extension is omitted from the import specifier.
 */
const Utils = imports.lib.utils;

Classes

GJS uses standard JavaScript syntax for classes when possible, but includes additional syntax for GObject classes.

ES Classes

GJS uses standard ES Classesopen in new window for JavaScript classes.

class ClassExample {
    constructor() {
        this._initialized = true;
    }

    get example_property() {
        if (this._example_property === undefined)
            this._example_property = null;

        return this._example_property;
    }

    set example_property(value) {
        if (this.example_property === value)
            return;

        this._example_property = value;
    }
}

GObject Classes

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See the documentation on GObject Basics and GObject Subclassing for more details.

The GNOME platform is built on the GObject type system, which brings object-oriented concepts to C. GJS uses special syntax to integrate with GObject.

import GObject from 'gi://GObject';


const SubclassExample = GObject.registerClass({
    GTypeName: 'SubclassExample',
    Properties: {
        'example-property': GObject.ParamSpec.boolean(
            'example-property',
            'Example Property',
            'A read-write boolean property',
            GObject.ParamFlags.READWRITE,
            true
        ),
    },
    Signals: {
        'example-signal': {},
    },
}, class SubclassExample extends GObject.Object {
    constructor(constructProperties = {}) {
        super(constructProperties);
    }

    get example_property() {
        if (this._example_property === undefined)
            this._example_property = null;

        return this._example_property;
    }

    set example_property(value) {
        if (this.example_property === value)
            return;

        this._example_property = value;
        this.notify('example-property');
    }
});

Legacy Classes

WARNING

ES Classes should be preferred for new projects and existing projects should migrate when possible.

Prior to the ECMAScript standard for classes, GJS used a custom syntax to integrate with GObject.

const Lang = imports.lang;

const GObject = imports.gi.GObject;


var ExampleSubclass = new Lang.Class({
    Name: 'ExampleSubclass',
    GTypeName: 'ExampleSubclass',
    Signals: {},
    InternalChildren: [],
    Children: [],
    Extends: GObject.Object,
    _init(constructArguments) {
        this.parent(constructArguments);
    },
});
Last Updated: 11/11/2023, 8:15:54 PM
Contributors: Andy Holmes, Evan Welsh, Detlev Zundel, Marcin Jahn, Sonny Piers