Create a Plugin

Technical description of a TACTIC plugin

A plugin is a self-contained package of files that TACTIC can make use of to extend the base functionality. Virtually any functionality in TACTIC can be made into a plugin.

A plugin can contain:

  • project configuration data

  • any database data

  • js files

  • css files

  • documentation

  • python files

manifest.xml file

The manifest file is a description of the entries in the database that are owned by the plugin. This allows the plugin manager to extract the appropriate database entries and commit the .spt files. It contains elements like:

data: a collection of name/value pairs that describe information about the plugin

  • code

  • description

  • version

sobject: describes which sobjects the plugin contains. It’s an expression of the form <sobject search_type=”[search_type]”> with attributes:

  • code: the specfic code of the object

  • expression: an expression of which all matched sobject will belong to the plugin

  • path: the relative .spt file path that all sobjects will be written to

  • ignore_columns: a comma seperate list of columns for the plugin exporter to ignore

  • There are some special attributes for specific search types. The config/widget_config search type has the attribute:

    • view

.spt files

".spt" files are database files that contain database schema structure and database data. These files enable TACTIC to read and write database data that is both platform and database independent. This abstractions allows TACTIC plugins to be used on any supported TACTIC platform. An important design criteria of .spt files are that they are human readable even when the database entry contains xml or software code. More importantly, they can be easily diff’ed using standard software tools so that the code produced can show proper diffs using any source code management system (such as Perforce, SVN or Git). This is essential for collaborative work building plugins to delivery to a 3rd party.

Creating the Plugin

Once you are in the plugin manager, you can the New button which creates a new plugin outline. Afterwards, you can start filling in the details like name, type, etc. On creation, a plugin type can be specified. Depending on the plugin type a number of bootstrap data will be created to support the structure of the plugin. After selecting Create, the plugin will be created and you will be able to see it in the plugin list.

If you go to the documentation tab, you will find that you are able to create new documentation if the documentation doesn’t exist. This will create a new file, doc.html, which you can edit now.

To add files to the plugin, select the plugin and go to the files tab. Here, you will find many options like the ability to upload or simply create a new file. The new files that you are uploading or creating are used properly when their purpose is explained in the manifest.xml file.

After customizing the plugin to your needs, you can now package the plugin to perhaps upload to the community site so others can use it. Documentation on packaging can be found in this section under Packaging a Plugin.

Best Practices

Widget config tables should not include code or id columns or they must be explicitly set to values that are guaranteed to be unique on any installation of TACTIC. Otherwise, the plugin should not depend on the value of the code or id column.

This is also true of “custom_scripts” written in the script editor.

When referring to an sobject, always search by code (not id). When doing this, make sure the code contains a namespace that will not conflict with any other plugin.