Le Sat, 17 Sep 2016 23:09:02 +0200, Benoît Minisini  
<gam...@users.sourceforge.net> a écrit:

> Hi,
> Would people be interested in some sort of IDE extensions?
> The idea is making a dedicated tag in the software farm for IDE  
> extensions.
> Then, once installed, the extension program is automatically detected by
> the IDE.
> Then a menu entry will be added in the IDE.
> When the user clicks on that menu entry, the extension program is run.
> It will receive the project path in its argument, and eventually other
> informations: the current edited file for example, or whatever else is
> needed.
> This is the principle.
> If anymone is interested in something like that, please tell.
> Regards,

I like the idea a lot, so i'll add my two cents to the discussion. :-)

First, I like the idea of using the Software Farm for extensions/plugins.
However, I think it would be nice to have some kind of shortcut
(like Options > IDE Extensions …), because going to the Software Farm
itself isn't very intuitive when you are looking for plugins to install.

The thing that feels a bit wierd to me, is the implementation itself.
While it is the simplest, having only a menu entry and an executable
being run is very restrictive.
The extension program would have no access to the IDE's state
whatsoever, and would have little to no information about the open project.

With this design, the only things that I can see being implemented are
programs being run in the current project directory, and running a single
background task, or opening a big pop-up window, because the extension
would need to be completely external.
Therefore, I think the extension should have access to some of the IDE's
classes (the exported ones).

However, I've noticed that there are quite a bit of Gambas projects
out there, that could be/are using some sort of plugins like this, not
only the IDE.

Currently, in order to to something like this, you have to mess with
Component.Load(), have the plugin to export some classes, and have the
main application to use some dynamic introspection to fetch some
specific method, and run it. All of this already looks like some
stange voodoo magic.

Moreover, you cannot directly access the exported Classes from the
plugin's project, because the compiler doesn't know them.
You would have to access them at runtime only, using dynamic introspection,
which is just terrible at this point.

My point is: I would really like to have a nice, standard way for adding
plugins to Gambas applications, maybe through a component or something.
It would therefore not only be ridiculously easy to add simple plugins
to the IDE (while still allowing to make it evolve and add more features
later), but also for any Gambas application that wants it. :-)

I've been thinking about something like this for quite some time actually,
and your message raised interest about this to me again.

Here are the ideas that I came up with, please tell me what you think! :-)
(This is purely in my head, there are probably some things that I missed.
I am just pasting all the ideas I have, I apologize for the long post.)

In order to easily implement plugins like I described above, two things
are necessary:
- The ability for the application to load plugins from archive files, and
   then run a specific method (most likely Main() ).
- The ability for the plugin to access the application's exported classes,
   which would basically form an API to let the plugin do anything it wants
   (like adding menu entries, extra docks/windows, registering to events...)

For the first one, I think a simple static method like Plugin.Load(file)
should suffice. It could maybe return a Plugin object with some metadata
about the plugin file (version, authors, …), but that's just extra.
It might be tricky to access the Main() method of the plugin without it
being exported (I don't think it's possible from pure Gambas code), but
the interpeter itself should be able to do this without any problem.

The second part may be tricky, as both the compiler and the IDE need
information they currently don't have.

To me, the ideal workflow for a plugin maker would be the following:
- Creating a plugin project,
- Selecting the application I want to create the plugin for,
- All the exported classes from the application are loaded by the
   IDE (for autocompletion/documentation), and by the compiler
   (for … compiling, I guess).
- (Maybe) Hitting the run button will run the app with the plugin
   loaded, allowing for quick testing iterations.

I'm not sure about the last part, as it would not be possible with
manual plugin loading like a Plugin.Load() method, so another solution
should be found there (if any).

In order for the rest to work, the compiler and the IDE would need to read
external info files from a specific target. Info files can be generated
easily from source project, and I think you can extract them from
executable archives (not sure about this one) ?
I think the nicest way to do this is to create a separate "plugin" project
type, with an extra parameter to inform the compiler about the targeted
application, which could then be used by the IDE.

I think that's all I have. It sure is much more complex than your
proposition Benoît, but I think it is much more interesting on the

Again, sorry for the long post, and I would love to hear you on this. :-)

Adrien Prokopowicz

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