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Tips for plugin development#

The following are some techniques you can use to make development tasks more agile when writing plugins.

Skipping package and deployment phases#

In "Introduction to plugin development" we describe the typical steps developers may follow when developing Casa plugins. However, if by chance you ever touched upon the internals page, it's likely that you have come up with some shortcuts to be quicker. Here we describe how to get the most out of this.

Any change you need to apply on the plugin you have been working on that doesn't require the Java compiler to pitch in, like changes to Javascript, CSS, images, or ZK pages can be tested without redeploying your plugin. Here is what you need:

  1. Connect to the VM where Gluu Server and Casa are running
  2. Log in to the chroot
  3. Locate the Jetty directory where Casa was exploded. This can be found at /opt/jetty-9.4/temp and has the form jetty-localhost-8091-casa.war-_casa-any-RANDOM-CHARS.dir
  4. cd to webapp/pl/<plugin-id>
  5. Upload the edited files that need revision to your VM
  6. Retest your plugin features


Using this approach requires altering your zk.xml file in a suitable way for development use. Learn here how to do so.

Although being able to change files this way doesn't seem like a big advantage, experience shows that it can save a lot of time. This is especially true when it comes to changes in visual layout, because this task requires a lot of attempts and experimentation to get the desired result. Not only can you replace files, you can also create new ones, which allows for more informal experiments during development.

Actually, you can write Java without requiring compilation. In ZK pages, you can include snippets of Java in <zscript> tags. See "ZScript" in ZUML Reference and "Scripts in ZUML" in ZK Developers' Reference. ZScript can be used as a fast prototyping vehicle, but are not advised for use in production artifacts.

Write a good manifest!#

This won't make you more agile, but taking the time to write a good license and description notes in your plugin manifest file will allow you to communicate more effectively to others about the features you are delivering with your artifacts. You can also use the description note to describe prerequisites your plugin may have (such as interacting with an external system.)