First of all, your official tutorial on getting started with Vala GUI development is excellent. I am wanting to move away from hand-coding my window layouts and I want to use Glade XML files. I have the following code which works:

using Gtk;

public void on_button1_clicked (Button source) {
    source.label = "Thank you!";

public void on_button2_clicked (Button source) {
    source.label = "Thanks!";

int main (string[] args) {
    Gtk.init (ref args);

    try {
        // If the UI contains custom widgets, their types must've been instantiated once
        // Type type = typeof(Foo.BarEntry);
        // assert(type != 0);
        var builder = new Builder ();
        builder.add_from_file ("sample.ui");
        builder.connect_signals (null);
        var window = builder.get_object ("window") as Window;
        window.show_all ();
        Gtk.main ();
    } catch (Error e) {
        stderr.printf ("Could not load UI: %s\n", e.message);
        return 1;

    return 0;

However, it only works because I have hard-coded the location of the glade XML file (sample.ui). If I move the .ui file then the app breaks. I have done some research and it looks like I need to use a GResource to specify the XML file and then load it.

Would it be possible to create a short tutorial on how to properly compile and access assets when building a Vala GUI app please?

  • A lot of the answer depends on your build system. I don't know of a tutorial, but there is an example project at github.com/flplv/vala-cmake-example which includes a simple GUI loaded through GResource. If you're using autotools, gitg (git.gnome.org/browse/gitg) is a good example.
    – nemequ
    Apr 19, 2017 at 0:54
  • I don't really have a build system as such at the moment (just getting started). I've just been running valac --pkg gtk+-3.0 hello.vala from the Terminal to compile my hello.vala file to a binary. The leap from this level of compiling to these build systems is too complicated... Apr 19, 2017 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


This is one of those things where you probably want to use a build system to handle everything for you.

First you need an XML file to describe your resources. Something like

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <gresource prefix="/com/foo/bar">
    <file compressed="true" preprocess="xml-stripblanks">sample.ui</file>

Then you use the glib-compile-resources tool to compile the XML description and the resources into a C file with something like

glib-compile-resources --generate-source --target sample.c sample.xml

Then pass the generated C to valac along with the XML description

valac ... --gresources=sample.xml sample.c yourfile.vala

At that point you can either have Gtk.Builder load from a resource

var builder = new Gtk.Builder.from_resource("/com/foo/bar/sample.ui");

Or, if your UI file is a template, you can just do something like

[GtkTemplate (ui = "/com/foo/bar/sample.ui")]
public class MainWindow : Gtk.Window {

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