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simple xlib key example
#include <stdio.h>
#include <locale.h>
#include <X11/Xlib.h>
#include <X11/keysym.h>
int main(void){
setlocale(LC_ALL, "");
Display* dpy = XOpenDisplay(NULL);
Window win = XCreateSimpleWindow(dpy, DefaultRootWindow(dpy), 0, 0, 100, 100, 0, 0, 0);
XMapRaised(dpy, win);
XSync(dpy, False);
// X input method setup, only strictly necessary for intl key text
// loads the XMODIFIERS environment variable to see what IME to use
XIM xim = XOpenIM(dpy, 0, 0, 0);
// fallback to internal input method
xim = XOpenIM(dpy, 0, 0, 0);
// X input context, you can have multiple for text boxes etc, but having a
// single one is the easiest.
XIC xic = XCreateIC(xim,
XNInputStyle, XIMPreeditNothing | XIMStatusNothing,
XNClientWindow, win,
XNFocusWindow, win,
// we want key presses
XSelectInput(dpy, win, KeyPressMask | KeyReleaseMask);
// main loop
XEvent prev_ev = {}, ev = {};
// you probably want XPending(dpy) here instead of 1, and an outer main loop
// where you do things other than just getting X events
XNextEvent(dpy, &ev);
// this is needed for IMEs to hook keypresses is some cases,
// if you need keys even when they're filtered things get a bit more complex
if(XFilterEvent(&ev, None) == True) continue;
case KeyPress: {
// note: if you just want the XK_ keysym, then you can just use
// XLookupKeysym(&ev.xkey, 0);
// and ignore all the XIM / XIC / status etc stuff
Status status;
KeySym keysym = NoSymbol;
char text[32] = {};
// if you want to tell if this was a repeated key, this trick seems reliable.
int is_repeat = prev_ev.type == KeyRelease &&
prev_ev.xkey.time == ev.xkey.time &&
prev_ev.xkey.keycode == ev.xkey.keycode;
// you might want to remove the control modifier, since it makes stuff return control codes
ev.xkey.state &= ~ControlMask;
// get text from the key.
// it could be multiple characters in the case an IME is used.
// if you only care about latin-1 input, you can use XLookupString instead
// and skip all the XIM / XIC setup stuff
Xutf8LookupString(xic, &ev.xkey, text, sizeof(text) - 1, &keysym, &status);
if(status == XBufferOverflow){
// an IME was probably used, and wants to commit more than 32 chars.
// ignore this fairly unlikely case for now
if(status == XLookupChars){
// some characters were returned without an associated key,
// again probably the result of an IME
printf("Got chars: (%s)\n", text);
if(status == XLookupBoth){
// we got one or more characters with an associated keysym
// (all the keysyms are listed in /usr/include/X11/keysymdef.h)
char* sym_name = XKeysymToString(keysym);
printf("Got both: (%s), (%s)\n", text, sym_name);
if(status == XLookupKeySym){
// a key without text on it
char* sym_name = XKeysymToString(keysym);
printf("Got keysym: (%s)\n", sym_name);
// example of responding to a key
if(keysym == XK_Escape){
puts("Exiting because escape was pressed.");
return 0;
} break;
prev_ev = ev;
return 0;
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