Feature: Plugins

Official Plugins:

%DBQUERY{"form = 'PluginForm'" format=" * %PLUGIN_STATUS_$formfield(Status)% "}%

Why plugins

Plugins are a great way to foster innovation in software projects, because they allow independent developers to solve several problems without the need to understand/interact with the entire code base; by writing a plugin that implements a documented interface developers are able to add features without having to worry with the existing infrastructure.

We are introducing plugins to make it easier for developers to create innovative features for Noosfero.

It is important that such plugin architecture is accompanied by clear and comprehensive documentation.

Intended policy for plugins

Although plugins are supposed to be independent from the main product, we suggest to keep plugins code together with Noosfero main code instead of distributing them independently to help everyone involved in having a proper Quality Assurance environment.

Plugins must have automated tests, and when there's a need to make changes in Noosfero's core code, we should be able to run tests for all the plugins so that we know whether those changes affected any of the plugins. If that's the case, the developer doing the changes can change the plugins accordingly, or at least contact the plugin authors/maintainers asking for help. If plugins are spread over the internet and not tested together with Noosfero, then we run the risk of having Noosfero version/plugin version combinations that don't work and thus cause frustrations on users.

Features that may be added via plugins

A Noosfero plugins must be able to:

  1. add new types of blocks
    • example: "this plugin adds a StatusNet block that can display your microblog posts"
  2. perform actions whenever a content is created/updated/deleted/viewed
    • example: "this plugin can post an update to your microblog (identi.ca/StatusNet/Twitter/etc) whenever you create a new blog post (or content in general)"
  3. perform actions whenever a profile is created/updated/deleted/viewed
  4. add elements to the visualization of a content
    • example: "this plugin adds a 'Share in Service X' button to all your posts."
  5. provide new items for the control panel of profiles, as well as the implementation of those items (configuration screens plus a configuration saving backend).
    • example: each community may be able to register related source code repositories to be monitored according to a defined set of software metrics.
  6. provide new visualizations for a profile.
    • example: if communities can register source code repositories to be monitored through its control panel, a possible visualization of the profile could be statistics about those repositories.
  7. provide new attributes for content items
  8. provide new attributes for profiles
  9. provide new ways of user authentication
    • example: a corporate social networking website may require that users must login with their corporate LDAP credentials
  10. provide new REST API handlers.
  11. provide new markup languages besides Textile (e.g. Markdown, Foswiki's wiki notation etc) -- this would require refactoring how the Textile article currently works.
  12. provide new ways of displaying the environment's home page (currently you have either static text or a "news site")
  13. provide new ways of displaying a profile's homepage (currently you can only put a user-created content there; even if it's a blog it's somehow limiting)

Developing Plugins

The Plugins Architecture topic describes the base architecture implemented and will help how to make your own plugin.
Related action items:
Action item Version Status
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Topic revision: r16 - 16 Jun 2014, BraulioBhavamitraBO

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