Written for Unreal Engine 5.0 UMG C++

When the user interface is open in most modern games, you’ll find a list of actions available to the player. This is typically a horizontal bar located at the bottom of the screen.

Here are some examples:

Destiny 2

Screenshot of the action bar in Destiny 2 showing the following actions: Toggle Subscreen bound to the S key, Gear Stats bound to the E key, and Dismiss bound to the Escape key

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Screenshot of the action bar in Animal Crossing showing the following actions: Take Off bound to the X button, Cancel bound to the B button, Change bound to the A button, and Done bound to the plus button

And, of course… Fortnite!

Screenshot of the action bar in Fortnite showing the following actions: View Match Stats bound to the V key, Report Player not bound to any key, and Leave Match not bound to any key

The Common UI plugin was originally developed for Fortnite and the action bar we’ll be creating in this tutorial is the same as the one used in the game! In case you’re not aware, this article is part of a series about the Common UI plugin. Common UI is a cross-platform UI plugin developed by Epic Games for Unreal Engine.


1. Common Bound Action Button

First, we’ll need to build our own button widget that will be used by the action bar for each available action. Go ahead and create a new Widget Blueprint based on CommonBoundActionButton.

A screenshot showing that CommonBoundActionButton is selected as the widget blueprint's parent class

Just like with the CommonButtonBase, we’ll need to provide a layout for the button. In the Bind Widgets panel, the properties required by the parent CommonBoundActionButton class are listed here.

Bind Widgets panel showing a Common Text property named Text_ActionName is required, and a Common Action Widget property named InputActionWidget is optional.

This means our button must have a Common Text widget and it must be named Text_ActionName, or else, it will fail to compile.

Let’s start off with an Overlay and a Common Text.

A screenshot of the hierarchy panel for the button showing a Common Text widget wrapped in an Overlay panel.

At this point, if we go back to the Bind Widgets panel, we will see a checkmark indicating that the property is bound.

Bind Widgets panel showing a checkmark next to the Common Text property.

This part is optional, but in this tutorial we’ll add a Common Action Widget, name it InputActionWidget, and put it in a Horizontal Box along with the text. This widget will automatically display the input icon associated with the action.

A screenshot of the hierarchy panel for the button showing a Common Action Widget and a Common Text widget wrapped together in a Horizontal Box.

The Bind Widgets panel will update to confirm that the icon is also bound.

Bind Widgets panel showing a checkmark next to the Common Text property and the Common Action Widget property.

There are additional properties that can be set in the Details panel for the Common Action Widget.

Details panel showing properties under the Common Action Widget category. The properties are Progress Material Brush, Progress Material Param, Icon Rim Brush, and an array of Input Actions.

Property Description
Progress Material Brush The material used to draw the progress indicator for actions that require holding down input. This is drawn on top of the button icon.
Progress Material Param The name of a scalar parameter used by the material. A percentage value between 0-1 will be provided via this parameter.
Icon Rim Brush The image or material that's drawn behind the button icon.

2. Common Bound Action Bar

Put the Common Bound Action Bar wherever it makes sense in a widget blueprint. A good place is in your game’s root UI container widget. In this tutorial, we’ll put it underneath a Common Activatable Widget Stack that we’ll use to push activatable widgets.

A screenshot of the widget blueprint designer showing a Vertical Box with a Common Activatable Widget Stack and a Common Bound Action Bar.

Under Entry Layout in the Details panel, set the Action Button Class to the button widget we created earlier. Under Dynamic Entry Box, the Entry Box Type property sets how the buttons are laid out. This can be further customized with the properties under the Entry Layout category.

The action bar works out of the box so there’s nothing else you need to do here.

Input Action Icons

Let’s do a quick run through on how to set up input action icons for each controller type.

Create a Blueprint and select CommonInputBaseControllerData as the parent class.

New Blueprint dialog with the Common Input Base Controller Data selected as the parent class

We’ll create one to represent the Generic gamepad which is used as the default in case we do not have one specific to the gamepad that’s being used. Import an icon for each button as a texture.

This needs to be done for each input device you want to support.

Content browser for a folder containing a Common Input Base Controller Data asset named Generic Gamepad Brushes and a texture representing each one of the four face buttons of a gamepad.

In the Blueprint, add an entry for each input type to the Input Brush Data Map.

Details view for the Common Input Base Controller Data asset with the Input Brush Data Map expanded to show entries mapping each one of the four face buttons of a gamepad to its texture.

For the Generic gamepad, the Input Type is set to Gamepad and the Gamepad Name is set to Generic. If you have source code access to consoles in Unreal Engine, then you’ll see other options for gamepads belonging to specific consoles such as the Xbox or Nintendo Switch here.

Details view for the Common Input Base Controller Data asset with the Input Type set to Gamepad and the Gamepad Name set to Generic.

Now, open Project Settings > Game > Common Input Settings. For each supported platform (Windows in this example), add a reference to the relevant Controller Data assets. On platforms that support generic gamepads (e.g., Windows), make sure the Default Gamepad Name is set to Generic, otherwise, use the selected name in the Controller Data asset.

Common Input Settings in Project Settings showing the Controller Data array with one entry pointing to Generic Gamepad Brushes asset and another pointing to Keyboard Brushes asset.

At this point, Common Acton Widgets will automatically display the appropriate icon based on the active input device.

Registering Actions

Back Handler

Common Activatable Widgets can register a binding for the default Back input action by setting Is Back Handler to true. The default behavior is to deactivate the widget. This can be changed by overriding the On Handle Back Action function of the Common Activatable Widget.

To display the Back input action in the Action Bar, both Is Back Action Displayed in Action Bar and Display in Action Bar need to be set to true.

Custom Actions

While it’s straightforward to handle the Back input, it gets a rather tricky if you want to bind more inputs. This will require C++, but there is a workaround if you want to do it in Blueprints only. The workaround is to add invisible (zero-width) Common Buttons to a Common Activatable Widget.

Otherwise, you’ll need to jump into C++ and call RegisterUIActionBinding in UCommonUserWidget, which is, unfortunately, not exposed to Blueprints.

It’s not difficult to resolve this issue. My solution is to create a C++ class based on UCommonActivatableWidget and add BlueprintCallable functions so that I can register input bindings entirely in Blueprints as you can see below:

Screenshot of custom Blueprint functions: Register Binding, Unregister Binding, and Unregister All Bindings

First, you’ll need to add CommonUI and CommonInput to PublicDependencyModuleNames for your game’s module. Then, add ExtendedCommonActivatableWidget.h and ExtendedCommonActivatableWidget.cpp to your game’s source.

The purpose of FInputActionBindingHandle is to represent an opaque Blueprintable handle provided by RegisterBinding that can be used to unregister the binding. This is optional as all bindings created by the widget will be unregistered when it’s destroyed, but can be useful in some cases.

Hope this helps!

Screenshot of an Action Bar created with my custom C++ class that I shared above