IDA & Qt: Under the hood

Generally speaking most plugins for IDA can be written by using only the provided SDK. The API environment provided by IDA is vast and gives the plugin writer the capability to display graphical elements such as colored text views, graphs, forms and choosers.

However, there are cases when this is not enough. In idag the developer could use the Windows/.NET environment to go beyond the limits of the IDA SDK. While this is still possible in idaq, it is not advised, as it binds the code of the plugin to Windows and forces idaq to switch from alien widgets to system windows (more about that later).

Since accessing Qt from C++ requires setting up a development environment on every platform the developer wishes to deploy his plugin, one might take into consideration using PySide to access the Qt environment. The advantages of this approach are many. The first one is that the code once written will work on every platform without additional work. Moreover, there’s no need to recompile a plugin for every major Qt release deployed with idaq.

That being said, there might be cases where the developer/company needs or prefers to access the Qt framework directly from C++ and that is what is going to be covered in this article.

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