Scripting angr management

Please note that the documentation and the API for angr management are highly in-flux. You will need to spend time reading the source code. Grep is your friend. If you have questions, please ask in the angr slack.

If you build something which uses an API and you want to make sure it doesn't break, you can contribute a testcase for the API!

This codebase is absolutely filled to the brim with one-off hacks. If you see some code and think, "hm, that doesn't seem like an extensible or best-practices way to code that", you're probably right. Cleaning up angr management's code is a top priority for us, so if you have some ideas to fix these sorts of issues, please let us know, either in an issue or a pull request!

The console, and the basic objects

angr management opens with an IPython console ready for input. This console has in its namespace several objects which are important for manipulating angr management and its data.

  • First, the main_window. This is the QMainWindow instance for the application. It contains basic functions that correspond to top level buttons, such as loading a binary.

  • Next, the workspace. This is a light object which coordinates the UI elements and manages the tabbed environment. You can use it to access any analysis-related GUI element, such as the disassembly view.

  • Finally, the instance. This is angr management's data model. It contains mechanisms for synchronizing components on shared data sources, as well as logic for creating long-running jobs.

workspace is also avaialble as an attribute on main_window and instance is available as an attribute on workspace. If you are programming in a namespace where none of these objects are available, you can import the angrmanagment.logic.GlobalInfo object, which contains a reference to main_window.

The ObjectContainer

angr management uses a class called ObjectContainer to implement a pub-sub model and synchronize changing object references. Let's use instance.project as an example. This is an ObjectContainer that contains the current project. You can use it in every way that you would normally use a project - you can access project.factory, project.kb, etc. However, it also has two very important features that are helpful for building UIs.

First, the pub-sub model. You can subscribe to changes to this object by calling instance.project.am_subscribe(callback). Then, you can notify listeners of changes by calling instance.project.am_event(). Note that events are NEVER automatically triggered - you must call am_event in order to trigger the callbacks. One useful feature of this model is that you can provide arbitrary keyword arguments to am_event, and they will be passed on to each callback. This means that you should always have your callbacks take **kwargs in order to account for unknown parameters. This feature is particularly useful to prevent feedback loops - if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to broadcast an event from your callback, you can add an argument which you can use as a flag not to recurse any further.

Next, object reference mutability. Let's say you have a widget that displays information about the project. Following the principle of least access, you should only provide as much information as is necessary to do the job - in this case, just the project object. If you provide the basic project object, this will cause issues when a new project is loaded. Notably, there will be a dangling reference held to the original project, preventing it from being garbage collected, and the widget will not update, continuing to show the old project's information. Now, if you provide the project's ObjectContainer, a new project can be created and inserted into the container and the reference will instantly be available to your widget. If you ever wanted to load a new project yourself, all you have to do is assign to instance.project.am_obj and then send off an event. Combined with the event publication model, this provides an efficient way to build responsive UIs that follow the principle of least access.

One important way that you can't use the object container the same way that you would a normal object is that is None will obviously not work. To resolve this, you can use instance.project.am_none - this will be True when no project is loaded.

One interesting feature of the ObjectContainer is that they can nest. If you have a container which contains a container which contains an object, any events sent to the inner container will also be sent to subscribers to the outer container. This allows patterns such as the list of SimStates actually containing a list of ObjectContainers which contain states, and the "current state" container actually contains one of these containers. The result of this is that UI elements can either subscribe to the current state, no matter

A full list of standard ObjectContainers that can be found in the instance __init__ method. There are more containers floating around for synchronizing on non-global elements - for example, the current state of the disassembly view is synchronized through its InfoDock object. Given a disassembly view instance, you can subscribe to, for example, its current selected instrucitons through view.infodock.selected_insns.

Manipulating UI elements

The workspace contains methods to manipulate UI elements. Notably, you can manipulate all open tabs with the workspace.view_manager reference. Additionally, you can pass any sort of object you like to workspace.viz() and it will attempt to visualize the object in the current window.

Writing plugins

angr management has a very flexible plugin framework. A plugin is a python file containing a subclass of angrmanagement.plugins.BasePlugin. Plugin files will be automatically loaded from the plugins module of angr management, and also from ~/.local/share/angr-management/plugins. These paths are configurable through the program configuration, but at time of writing this is not exposed in the UI.

The best way to see the tools you can use while building a plugin is to read the plugin base class source code. Any method or attribute can be overridden from a base class and will be automatically called on relevant events.

Writing tests

Look at the existing tests for examples. Generally, you can test UI components by creating the component and driving input to it via QTest. You can create a headless MainWindow instance by passing show=False to its constructor - this will also get you access to a workspace and an instance.