wayland-protocols contains Wayland protocols that add functionality not available in the Wayland core protocol. Such protocols either add completely new functionality, or extend the functionality of some other protocol either in Wayland core, or some other protocol in wayland-protocols.
A protocol in wayland-protocols consists of a directory containing a set of XML files containing the protocol specification, and a README file containing detailed state and a list of maintainers.
Protocols in general has three phases: the development phase, the testing phase, and the stable phase.
During this phase, patches for clients and compositors are written as a test vehicle. Such patches must not be merged in clients and compositors, because the protocol can still change.
When a protocol has reached a stage where it is ready for wider adoption,
and after the GOVERNANCE section
2.3 requirements have been
met, it enters the "testing" phase. At this point, the protocol is added
staging/ directory of wayland-protocols and made part of a release.
What this means is that implementation is encouraged in clients and
compositors where the functionality it specifies is wanted.
Extensions in staging cannot have backward incompatible changes, in that sense they are equal to stable extensions. However, they may be completely replaced with a new major version, or a different protocol extension all together, if design flaws are found in the testing phase.
After a staging protocol has been sufficiently tested in the wild and proven adequate, its maintainers and the community at large may declare it "stable", meaning it is unexpected to become superseded by a new major version.
A protocol may be deprecated, if it has been replaced by some other protocol, or declared undesirable for some other reason. No more changes will be made to a deprecated protocol.
Legacy protocol phases
An "unstable" protocol refers to a protocol categorization policy
previously used by wayland-protocols, where protocols initially
placed in the
unstable/ directory had certain naming conventions were
applied, requiring a backward incompatible change to be declared "stable".
During this phase, protocol extension interface names were in addition to
the major version postfix also prefixed with
z to distinguish from
Protocol directory tree structure
Depending on which stage a protocol is in, the protocol is placed within
the toplevel directory containing the protocols with the same stage.
Stable protocols are placed in the
stable/ directory, staging protocols
are placed in the
staging/ directory, and deprecated protocols are
placed in the
Unstable protocols (see Legacy protocol phases)
can be found in the
unstable/ directory, but new ones should never be
Protocol development procedure
To propose a new protocol, create a GitLab merge request adding the relevant files and Makefile.am entry to the repository with the explanation and motivation in the commit message. Protocols are organized in namespaces describing their scope ("wp", "xdg" and "ext"). There are different requirements for each namespace, see GOVERNANCE section 2 for more information.
If the new protocol is just an idea, open an issue on the GitLab issue tracker. If the protocol isn't ready for complete review yet and is an RFC, create a merge request and add the "WIP:" prefix in the title.
To propose changes to existing protocols, create a GitLab merge request.
Please include a
Signed-off-by line at the end of the commit to certify
that you wrote it or otherwise have the right to pass it on as an
open-source patch. See the
Developer Certificate of Origin for
a formal definition.
Interface naming convention
All protocols should avoid using generic namespaces or no namespaces in the protocol interface names in order to minimize risk that the generated C API collides with other C API. Interface names that may collide with interface names from other protocols should also be avoided.
For generic protocols not limited to certain configurations (such as
specific desktop environment or operating system) the
should be used on all interfaces in the protocol.
For protocols allowing clients to configure how their windows are
xdg_ prefix should be used.
For operating system specific protocols, the interfaces should be
prefixed with both
wp_ and the operating system, for example
For more information about namespaces, see GOVERNANCE section 2.1 .
Each new protocol XML file must include a major version postfix, starting
-v1. The purpose of this postfix is to make it possible to
distinguish between backward incompatible major versions of the same
The interfaces in the protocol XML file should as well have the same major version postfix in their names.
For example, the protocol
foo-bar may have a XML file
foo-bar/foo-bar-v1.xml, consisting of the interface
corresponding to the major version 1, as well as the newer version
foo-bar/foo-bar-v2.xml consisting of the interface
corresponding to the major version 2.
Include a disclaimer
Include the following disclaimer:
Warning! The protocol described in this file is currently in the testing phase. Backward compatible changes may be added together with the corresponding interface version bump. Backward incompatible changes can only be done by creating a new major version of the extension.
Use of RFC 2119 keywords
Descriptions of all new protocols must use (in lowercase) and adhere to the proper meaning of the keywords described in RFC 2119.
All protocol descriptions that follow the guidelines in RFC 2119 must incorporate the following text in their toplevel protocol description section:
The key words "must", "must not", "required", "shall", "shall not", "should", "should not", "recommended", "may", and "optional" in this document are to be interpreted as described in IETF RFC 2119.
Note that not all existing protocol descriptions conform to RFC 2119. Protocol maintainers are encouraged to audit their descriptions, update them as needed to follow RFC 2119 guidelines, and mark them as conformant in the way described in the previous paragraph.
Backward compatible protocol changes
A protocol may receive backward compatible additions and changes. This
is to be done in the general Wayland way, using
Backward incompatible protocol changes
While not preferred, a protocol may at any stage, especially during the
testing phase, when it is located in the
staging/ directory, see
backward incompatible changes.
Assuming a backward incompatible change is needed, the procedure for how to do so is the following:
- Make a copy of the XML file with the major version increased by 1.
- Increase the major version number in the protocol XML by 1.
- Increase the major version number in all of the interfaces in the XML by 1.
- Reset the interface version number (interface version attribute) of all the interfaces to 1.
- Remove all of the
Declaring a protocol stable
Once it has been concluded that a protocol been proven adequate in production, and that it is deemed unlikely to receive any backward incompatible changes, it may be declared stable.
The procedure of doing this is the following:
- Create a new directory in the
stable/toplevel directory with the same name as the protocol directory in the
- Copy the final version of the XML that is the version that was
decided to be declared stable into the new directory. The target name
should be the same name as the protocol directory but with the
- Remove the disclaimer about the protocol being in the testing phase.
- Update the
READMEfile in the staging directory and create a new
READMEfile in the new directory.
- Replace the disclaimer in the protocol files left in the staging/ directory with the following:
Disclaimer: This protocol extension has been marked stable. This copy is no longer used and only retained for backwards compatibility. The canonical version can be found in the stable/ directory.
Note that the major version of the stable protocol extension, as well as all the interface versions and names, must remain unchanged.
There are other requirements for declaring a protocol stable, see GOVERNANCE section 2.3.
Each release of wayland-protocols finalizes the version of the protocols to their state they had at that time.
Triaging merge requests
New merge requests should be triaged. Doing so requires the one doing the triage to add a set of initial labels:
~"New Protocol" - For a new protocol being added. If it's an amendment to an existing protocol, apply the label of the corresponding protocol instead. If none exist, create it.
~"Needs acks" - If the protocol needs one or more acknowledgements.
~"Needs implementations" - If there are not enough implementations of the protocol.
~"Needs review" - If the protocol is in need of review.
~"In 30 day discussion period" - If the protocol needs a 30 day discussion period.
For the meaning and requirement of acknowledgments and available implementations, see the GOVERNANCE.md document.
Managing merge requests
When merge requests get their needed feedback and items, remove the corresponding label that marks it as needing something. For example, if a merge request receives all the required acknowledgments, remove the ~"Needs acks" label, or if 30 days passed since opening, remove any ~"In 30 day discussion period" label.
Nacking a merge request
If the inclusion of a merge request is denied due to one or more Nacks, add the ~Nacked label.