IntelliJ Platform SDK DevGuide

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Plugin Listeners

Listeners allow plugins to declaratively subscribe to events delivered through the message bus (see Messaging infrastructure for details).

You can define both application- and project-level listeners.

Declarative registration of listeners allows you to achieve better performance than registering listeners from code. The advantage is because listener instances get created lazily - the first time an event is sent to the topic - and not during application startup or project opening.

Defining Application-Level Listeners

To define an application-level listener, add the following section to your plugin.xml:

<applicationListeners> <listener class="myPlugin.MyListenerClass" topic="BaseListenerInterface"/> </applicationListeners>

The topic attribute specifies the listener interface corresponding to the type of events you want to receive. Usually, this is the interface used as the type parameter of the Topic instance for the type of events. The class attribute specifies the class in your plugin that implements the listener interface and receives the events.

As a specific example, if you want to receive events about all virtual file system changes, you need to implement the BulkFileListener interface, corresponding to the topic VirtualFileManager.VFS_CHANGES. To subscribe to this topic from code, you could use something like the following snippet:

messageBus.connect().subscribe(VirtualFileManager.VFS_CHANGES, new BulkFileListener() { @Override public void after(@NotNull List<? extends VFileEvent> events) { // handle the events } });

To use declarative registration, you no longer need to reference the Topic instance. Instead, you refer directly to the listener interface class:

<applicationListeners> <listener class="myPlugin.MyVfsListener" topic="com.intellij.openapi.vfs.newvfs.BulkFileListener"/> </applicationListeners>

Then you provide the listener implementation as a top-level class:

public class MyVfsListener implements BulkFileListener { @Override public void after(@NotNull List<? extends VFileEvent> events) { // handle the events } }

Defining Project-Level Listeners

Project-level listeners are registered in the same way, except that the top-level tag is <projectListeners>. They can be used to listen to project-level events, for example, tool window operations:

<projectListeners> <listener class="MyToolwindowListener" topic="com.intellij.openapi.wm.ex.ToolWindowManagerListener" /> </projectListeners>

The class implementing the listener interface can define a one-argument constructor accepting a Project, and it will receive the instance of the project for which the listener is created:

public class MyToolwindowListener implements ToolWindowManagerListener { private final Project project; public MyToolwindowListener(Project project) { this.project = project; } @Override public void stateChanged() { // handle the state change } }

Additional Attributes

Registration of listeners can be restricted using the following attributes:

  • os - allows to restrict listener to given OS, e.g., os="windows" for Windows only (2020.1 and later)
  • activeInTestMode - set to false to disable listener if com.intellij.openapi.application.Application.isUnitTestMode()==true
  • activeInHeadlessMode - set to false to disable listener if com.intellij.openapi.application.Application.isHeadlessEnvironment()==true. Also, covers activeInTestMode as test mode implies headless mode.
Last modified: 21 September 2020