Editor Components in O3DE

Some components in Open 3D Engine (O3DE) have separate editor and runtime versions. The editor version is active in the editor. The runtime version is used for running the level in game or in the editor by pressing Ctrl+G or clicking AI/Physics below the viewport. O3DE uses editor components to maintain a clean separation between tools-specific code and data on one hand, and leaner runtime component data on the other. In general, runtime game components do not require editor counterparts. Components rarely need to be fully active at edit time. The light and mesh components are exceptions because they must behave the same at edit time as at run time.

EditContext reflection is fully supported in runtime components. Edit time is the only time when editor components are active. At run time, when O3DE processes a level or dynamic slice, it uses the runtime equivalents of editor components. Using the EditContext from a runtime component is usually sufficient to provide a rich editing experience.


Editor components are not required. An editor component is necessary only if one of the following is true:

  • Your component must be fully active at edit time, which refers to standard editing mode. Runtime components are used for the AI/Physics mode and gameplay (Ctrl+G).
  • You must add special tools functionality to your component that requires that you compile only into your editor binaries.
  • Your component provides functionality only in the editor and does not export a runtime component (for example, if your component manages selection logic).

Sample editor component

The following code shows a sample editor component.

/* Include the following headers:
 * EditorComponentBase.h - the editor component base class. Derive from
 * this class to create a component to use in the editor that is the
 * counterpart of the version of the component that is used during runtime.
 * EntityDebugDisplayBus.h - provides a debug draw API to be used by components.
 * EditorVisibilityBus.h - controls whether an entity is shown or hidden in the editor
 * MyComponent.h - header file for the runtime version of the component.
#include <AzToolsFramework/ToolsComponents/EditorComponentBase.h>
#include <AzToolsFramework/ToolsComponents/EditorVisibilityBus.h>
#include <AzFramework/Entity/EntityDebugDisplayBus.h>
#include <MyComponent.h>

class MyEditorComponent
      : public AzToolsFramework::Components::EditorComponentBase
      , private AzFramework::EntityDebugDisplayEventBus::Handler
      AZ_EDITOR_COMPONENT(MyEditorComponent, "{5034A7F3-63DB-4298-83AA-915AB23EFEA0}");

      // Perform reflection for this component. The context parameter is the reflection context.
      static void Reflect(AZ::ReflectContext* context);

      // AZ::Component interface implementation.
      void Init() override;
      void Activate() override;
      void Deactivate() override;

      // AzFramework::EntityDebugDisplayEventBus implementation.
      void DisplayEntityViewport(const AzFramework::ViewportInfo& viewportInfo, AzFramework::DebugDisplayRequests& debugDisplay) override;

      // Optional functions for defining provided and dependent services.
      static void GetProvidedServices(AZ::ComponentDescriptor::DependencyArrayType& provided);
      static void GetDependentServices(AZ::ComponentDescriptor::DependencyArrayType& dependent);
      static void GetRequiredServices(AZ::ComponentDescriptor::DependencyArrayType& required);
      static void GetIncompatibleServices(AZ::ComponentDescriptor::DependencyArrayType& incompatible);

      // Faciliate the translation of an editor component into a runtime component.
      void BuildGameEntity(AZ::Entity* gameEntity) override;


Editor component and runtime component differences

The code for editor components is similar to the code for runtime components. The following sections list the key differences. It is safe to assume that editor component code is the same as it is for runtime component code other than the differences listed. For more information, see Creating a Component.

Base classes

All editor components include the AzToolsFramework::Components::EditorComponentBase class somewhere in their inheritance ancestry. If a component must display edit-time visualization, it must be a handler on the AzFramework::EntityDebugDisplayEventBus bus, as in the following example.

#include <AzToolsFramework/ToolsComponents/EditorComponentBase.h>
#include <AzFramework/Entity/EntityDebugDisplayBus.h>
class MyComponent
      : public AzToolsFramework::Components::EditorComponentBase
      , private AzFramework::EntityDebugDisplayEventBus::Handler


Every editor component must specify the AZ_EDITOR_COMPONENT macro within its class definition. The macro takes two arguments:

  1. The component type name.

  2. A unique UUID. You may use any UUID generator to produce the value. Visual Studio provides this functionality through Tools, Create GUID. Use the Registry Format setting, and then copy and paste the value that is generated.

A sample AZ_EDITOR_COMPONENT macro follows.

AZ_EDITOR_COMPONENT(MyEditorComponent, "{5034A7F3-63DB-4298-83AA-915AB23EFEA0}");
Some O3DE editor components specify AzToolsFramework::Components::EditorComponentBase as the base class but use the AZ_COMPONENT instead of the AZ_EDITOR_COMPONENT macro, as in the following example.
AZ_COMPONENT(EditorMannequinComponent, "{C5E08FE6-E1FC-4080-A053-2C65A667FE82}", AzToolsFramework::Components::EditorComponentBase);

The DisplayEntityViewport method

To draw debug visuals in the viewport for a specific entity, implement the DisplayEntityViewport method of the AzFramework::EntityDebugDisplayEventBus interface. Use this location for custom primitive edit-time visualization code.

#include <AzFramework/Entity/EntityDebugDisplayBus.h>
void DisplayEntityViewport(const AzFramework::ViewportInfo& viewportInfo, AzFramework::DebugDisplayRequests& debugDisplay) override;
viewportInfoDetermines information such as camera position.
debugDisplayContains the interface for debug draw or display commands.

The BuildGameEntity method

The BuildGameEntity method from EditorComponentBase.h facilitates the translation of an editor component into a runtime component. Override this method as follows.

#include <AzToolsFramework/ToolsComponents/EditorComponentBase.h>
void BuildGameEntity(AZ::Entity* gameEntity) override;

A typical implementation of the BuildGameEntity method performs the following actions:

  1. Create a runtime component based on the editor component of the specified gameEntity.

  2. Copy the configuration data from the editor component into the runtime component.

  3. Add the runtime component to the gameEntity that was specified.

At this point, the runtime component serializes the gameEntity and reloads it to create a new, clean version of the runtime entities.