Note: This section uses sample .hal files to illustrate how HIDL language constructs map to C++.

With few exceptions, HIDL interface packages are located in hardware/interfaces or the vendor/ directory. The hardware/interfaces top-level maps directly to the android.hardware package namespace; the version is a subdirectory under the package (not interface) namespace.

The hidl-gen compiler compiles the .hal files into a set of a .h and .cpp files. From these autogenerated files a shared library that client/server implementations link against is built. The Android.bp file that builds this shared library is autogenerated by the hardware/interfaces/ script. Every time you add a new package to hardware/interfaces, or add/remove .hal files to/from an existing package, you must rerun the script to ensure the generated shared library is up-to-date.

For example, the IFoo.hal sample file should be located in hardware/interfaces/samples/1.0. The sample IFoo.hal file creates an IFoo interface in the samples package:

package android.hardware.samples@1.0;
interface IFoo {
    struct Foo {
       int64_t someValue;
       handle  myHandle;

    someMethod() generates (vec<uint32_t>);
    anotherMethod(Foo foo) generates (int32_t ret);

Generated files

Autogenerated files in a HIDL package are linked into a single shared library with the same name as the package (for example, android.hardware.samples@1.0). The shared library also exports a single header, IFoo.h, which can be included by clients and servers. Using the hidl-gen compiler with the IFoo.hal interface file as an input, binderized mode has the following autogenerated files:

Figure 1. Files generated by compiler.

  • IFoo.h. Describes the pure IFoo interface in a C++ class; it contains the methods and types defined in the IFoo interface in the IFoo.hal file, translated to C++ types where necessary. Does not contain details related to the RPC mechanism (e.g., HwBinder) used to implement this interface. The class is namespaced with the package and version, e.g. ::android::hardware::samples::IFoo::V1_0. Both clients and servers include this header: Clients for calling methods on it and servers for implementing those methods.
  • IHwFoo.h. Header file that contains declarations for functions that serialize data types used in the interface. Developers should never include his header directly (it does not contain any classes).
  • BpFoo.h. A class that inherits from IFoo and describes the HwBinder proxy (client-side) implementation of the interface. Developers should never refer to this class directly.
  • BnFoo.h. A class that holds a reference to an IFoo implementation and describes the HwBinder stub (server-side) implementation of the interface. Developers should never refer to this class directly.
  • FooAll.cpp. A class that contains the implementations for both the HwBinder proxy and the HwBinder stub. When a client calls an interface method, the proxy automatically marshals the arguments from the client and sends the transaction to the binder kernel driver, which delivers the transaction to the stub on the other side (which then calls the actual server implementation).

The files are structured similarly to the files generated by aidl-cpp (for details, see "Passthrough mode" in the HIDL Overview). The only autogenerated file that is independent of the RPC mechanism used by HIDL is IFoo.h; all other files are tied to the HwBinder RPC mechanism used by HIDL. Therefore, client and server implementations should never directly refer to anything other than IFoo. To achieve this, include only IFoo.h and link against the generated shared library.

Note: HwBinder is only one possible transport; new transports may be added in the future.

A client or server that uses any interface in a package must include the shared library of that package in one (1) of the following locations:

  • In
    LOCAL_SHARED_LIBRARIES += android.hardware.samples@1.0
  • In Android.bp:
    shared_libs: [
        /* ... */

For specific libraries:

libhidlbase Includes standard HIDL data-types. Unless your interface consists only of primitives that map directly to C++ primitives, you must also link this library:
libhidltransport Handles the transport of HIDL calls over different RPC/IPC mechanisms. You must always link this library:
LOCAL_SHARED_LIBRARIES += libhidltransport
libhwbinder You must also link to this library:
libfmq To use Fast Message Queue IPC, you must also link to this library.


HIDL functions and types such as Return<T> and Void() are declared in namespace ::android::hardware. The C++ namespace of a package is determined by the package name and version. For example, a package mypackage with version 1.2 under hardware/interfaces has the following qualities:

  • C++ namespace is ::android::hardware::mypackage::V1_2
  • Fully qualified name of IMyInterface in that package is: ::android::hardware::mypackage::V1_2::IMyInterface. (IMyInterface is an identifier, not part of the namespace).
  • Types defined in the package's types.hal file are identified as: ::android::hardware::mypackage::V1_2::MyPackageType