Finding your way around

Read this page to learn about the contents and structure of the library.

The platform structure and APIs

The Symbian Guide provides introductory documents to the platform as a whole, and guides that describe the major areas of the platform in depth.

The Symbian platform is a large system, and contains hundreds of C++ classes and thousands of member functions. Like most complex systems, it is easiest to divide it into large areas, and gradually to narrow your focus down to the areas that are most important to your tasks.

The Symbian System Model organises the components of the Symbian platform into a layered software architecture. The guides in this library are also structured around this architecture. The guides describe the key technology and architectural concepts of the area, and show the key ways to use its classes.

Note: Before the System Model was introduced, the Symbian platform used another architectural view based on large divisions called subsystems. Some documentation has not yet been changed to use the System Model rather than subsystems.

Newcomers to the Symbian platform

For those developing on the Symbian platform for the first time, the Essential Idioms section describes the distinctive programming idioms and conventions of the Symbian platform.


The Examples section gives instructions for building and using the large set of C++ example projects that accompany the library. Projects include examples that demonstrate the use of fundamental Symbian platform classes, and many examples showing how to use particular Symbian platform C++ APIs.

Example code is provided for illustrative and demonstration purposes, and should not be assumed to be useable as product code.

Hardware integration

The library provides the following guides related to hardware integration.

Kernel and Hardware Services guide

The Kernel and Hardware Services Guide provides information for device creators and silicon vendors who port the Symbian platform base to new hardware. The porting process is explained through a Template port.

Device Driver guide

The Device Driver Guide contains information on writing device drivers to run on the Symbian platform. It gives an overview that explains the device driver model as used in the Symbian platform, and then goes on to explain what you need to do in order to write a driver.


The library does not include documentation for most tools, which are usually delivered separately from the Symbian platform code. See the Tools section of the Symbian Developer Community website.

The Tools section documents the tools that are delivered with the platform. In particular, the Build Tools Guide and the Build Tools Reference document the abld/bldmake (SBSv1) command line build tools, and explain the project file formats.