IDA 7.0: IDAPython backward-compatibility with 6.95 APIs

Table of contents:

  1. Intended audience
  2. Reasons for API changes in 7.0
  3. How backward-compatibility APIs work
  4. Availability of the 6.95 backward-compatibility APIs
  5. What should I do if...?
  6. Coverage of the backward-compatibility code

Intended audience

IDAPython script/processor module writers should have a look at least at the following sections:

Reasons for API changes in 7.0

IDA 7.0 consists of x86_64 binaries (as opposed to all previous versions, which consisted of i386 binaries). This has the very unfortunate side-effect that all existing binary plugins will stop working.

Thus, since ABI compatibility is gone and therefore those binary plugins would require recompiling, we decided that now would be a perfect time to perform a much-needed API cleanup:

Binary plugin authors will not only have to recompile: first, a small porting effort will be needed in order to adapt to the new, cleaned-up API.


The situation, however, is very different for IDAPython script/plugin authors: the exact architecture of the platform where IDA runs (i.e., x86_64 or i386) is (mostly, at least) irrelevent to them.

Consequently, we decided we would provide a compatibility layer, that maps the 'old' 6.95 APIs, to the new 7.0 ones, in order to ease the adoption of IDA 7.0 in as many cases as possible.

How backward-compatibility APIs work

Backward-compatibility is provided by python.cfg's AUTOIMPORT_COMPAT_IDA695 directive.

When that directive is set to YES, additional code will be loaded into IDAPython, providing mappings for the older function names, classes, constants, etc...

With that directive turned on, existing scripts should just work. If that isn't the case, please contact us on [email protected] and we'll try our best and fix IDAPython so that it covers your use-case.

This is not, however, a viable & long-term solution:

Availability of the 6.95 backward-compatibility APIs

At 7.0 release-time

The AUTOIMPORT_COMPAT_IDA695 directive is turned on by default, which means that existing scripts should work.

In a later release (7.1, or 7.2)

When some time has passed, a later release of IDA will ship with AUTOIMPORT_COMPAT_IDA695 set to NO by default. Of course, users can still turn it back on, but that will at least hint the user that something might require attention.

In the future

After some time (it's difficult to provide a time frame, here. We'll have to see how things go), we'll simply remove the backward-compatibility code. It will then be impossible for scripts that were not ported to function.

What should I do if...?

You have existing scripts/plugins

If your script(s) is(are) meant to work with IDA 7.0 onwards, it might be a good idea to port them as soon as possible.

The modifications should be (in almost all cases) trivial, since many API changes consist of function, types & constants renaming.

Please have a look at the 6.95 → 7.0 API guide for information about that renaming.

A very good test to test whether your scripts have been properly ported, is to set AUTOIMPORT_COMPAT_IDA695 to NO,restart IDA, and try your scripts again.

You are developing new scripts/plugins

The best course of action here is to simply set to AUTOIMPORT_COMPAT_IDA695 to NO from the beginning, and write your script/plugin directly with the new API.

Coverage of the backward-compatibility code

We did what was reasonably feasible, to provide an IDAPython API that's as backward-compatible as possible with the IDA 6.95 API

However, we considered it unreasonable for some parts of the API to be ported. Most notably:

  1. the "processor module" API: existing processor modules will have to be ported to the new API. Please see the SDK's module/script/proctemplate.py (or any other *.py file in that directory) for examples how to use the new API.
  2. processor module-related notifications: some of those have either been renamed, or have possibly changed signature

Most (all?) of the renamed functions, constants, etc... should be covered, in all modules: ida_*, idaapi, idc, ...

If something doesn't work/isn't there anymore, it's likely an omission from our side. In that case, please let us know about any missing bits & pieces, that you believe should be there and that we might have forgotten!