Weston IVI-shell

Weston’s IVI-shell is a highly customizable shell targeted at use cases which need custom control over the shell’s window layout with one or more applications without interactive configuration of the layout by the user.

Example use cases for the IVI-shell are IVI applications or industrial human machine interfaces. In general, whenever the user interface requires the exact positioning of multiple application surfaces on one or more screens.

The IVI-shell also provides a means for applications to identify themselves to the shell by application IDs via the ivi_application Wayland protocol.

IVI-shell client protocol

Wayland clients can implement the ivi_application Wayland protocol, which allows them to specify an ivi_id to allow the IVI controller to identify the application. This allows the controller to implement special behavior for well-known applications.

The IVI-shell is able to also handle clients that use the xdg-shell protocol, but in these cases the IVI-shell needs other means to identify client applications.

See ivi-application.xml for the protocol specification.

IVI-shell Weston modules

The IVI-shell consists of two main components: The ivi-shell.so and custom IVI controller (with the hmi-controller.so example implementation).

The ivi-shell.so is responsible for handling the application IDs and for providing abstractions to configure the window layout via the ivi_layout_interface. This interface is discussed in IVI-shell compositor implementation.

The IVI controller uses the ivi_layout_interface to implement a window manager and is responsible for configuring the window layout, i.e. the position of the applications on the screens.

Due to this separation, both modules must be loaded in your weston.ini to use the IVI-shell.


If you are using your custom controller, replace hmi-controller.so with the name of your own controller module.

IVI-shell architecture overview

Controlling the IVI-shell

The IVI-shell provides the ivi_layout_interface API that a controller must use to control the window layout of the IVI-shell. See ivi-shell/ivi-layout-export.h for the definition of this API.

For the initial configuration, the controller has to create at least one ivi_layout_layer and add the ivi_layout_layer to a weston_output. The layers allow to group multiple applications surfaces and control them together and are the main mechanism to group and organize surfaces. These are always necessary to show something using the IVI-shell. The IVI-shell will internally create an ivi_layout_screen, but a controller always uses the weston_output directly.

To get control over the client surfaces, the controller must use notifiers that trigger whenever there are changes to the client surfaces. The client surfaces then show up as ivi_layout_surface. These have an ID, which allows the controller to identify the surface and reconfigure the window layout accordingly.

The controller must add the ivi_layout_surface to an ivi_layout_layer and configure it’s position and z-order wrt. the other surfaces in the layer. Otherwise, the newly added surface will not show up on the screen.

The IVI-shell will internally create an ivi_layout_view for each layer that the surface was added to. However, the views are not provided to the IVI controller.

After configuring all expected changes, the controller must call the commit_changes to atomically update the display layout.

IVI-shell example implementation

The IVI-shell comes with an example implementation of an IVI controller – the hmi-controller. The hmi-controller will usually replaced by a custom implementation that implements the use-case-specific behavior.

The hmi-controller is split into two parts:

The hmi-controller.so is a Weston Plugin that uses the ivi_layout_interface to perform the window manager tasks. It allows some reconfiguration of the window layout via the ivi_hmi_controller protocol. Other implementations may keep all window management inside the module or may expose even more window management via a custom protocol to an external process.

The weston-ivi-shell-user-interface is an example hmi-controller helper client that serves as a user interface for controlling the hmi-controller.

The hmi-controller can be customized using the [ivi-shell] section in the weston.ini. An example configuration will be generated in <build_dir>/ivi-shell/weston.ini.