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HIPE Plug-in User Manual

This is the user manual for HIPE Plug-ins. It describes what plug-ins are, where to get them, how to install them, and how to get rid of them.

If you are interested in creating plug-ins yourself, please refer to the Plug-in Developer's Manual. For the motivation behind design choices made when building the Plug-in Framework for HIPE, see the Design Document.

Introduction: What's a plug-in and what's it for

Plug-ins are intended to make it easy to share software (written in Java and/or Jython) and to share data in the form of LocalStores. A secondary purpose is to allow existing applications to be "plugged into HIPE": A plug-in for an existing application can add menus and menu items to HIPE. The user can then use those menus to use the application, within HIPE.

A plug-in contains scripts that are to be run at start-up, for example scripts that define Tasks. Such scripts are also run at the start-up of jylaunch (or hipe as a command line tool, from HIPE version 11), so that you can also use (for example) Tasks or data pools from plug-ins. You still need HIPE to install the plug-ins, and jylaunch (or hipe) loads the plug-ins from the same directories as HIPE.

The plug-in framework was designed to make it very easy for users to install and use plug-ins, while at the same time making it simple for creators of plug-ins to produce the plug-ins. In most cases, creating a plug-in is a matter of zipping or jarring whatever it is you want to share, and putting it on-line. The user gets the URL of the plug-in, puts it into HIPE and hits install. In many case (nearly all, I hope), this will be enough. Clearly, it will require more work to create a plug-in that adds menus, Views, Perspectives, and so on, but for the user this doesn't make a difference. Installation is one-click in principle. A plug-in developer may construct a custom installer for a plug-in allowing more configuration, but requiring more clicks from the user.

Below is a quick introduction on how to create a simple plug-in with some scripts. It's easier than you think!

How to get plug-ins

Anyone can put a plug-in on-line anywhere, but we have created a Wiki page that is intended as a repository, or at least a starting point for finding the plug-ins. The Wiki is DpHipePlugins. It is not necessary to bookmark or remember the address of this page. If you select Plug-ins from the Tools menu in HIPE, the Plug-ins panel opens. This panel shows the currently installed plug-ins and has two buttons at the bottom: One for installing new plug-ins and one for finding new plug-ins. Clicking the "Find more..." button opens a web-browser and navigates to the DpHipePlugins Wiki.

Using the URL where a plug-in is offered (the plug-in download URL, so to speak), you can install the plug-in. In the Plug-ins panel click the button "Install new...". Enter the URL in the URL field and click Install. That's all!

The "download URL" for a plug-in may be HTTP, HTTPS, FTP or even a file: URL pointing at a regular file. If you have a plug-in downloaded onto your disk though, you will probably find it easier to browse and locate it within the filesystem. For this, click the Browse button next to the URL field.

Plug-ins on your system

After installing a plug-in, you can see the file as they are installed by selecting the plug-in in the Plug-ins panel and clicking Browse. As you will see, by default the plug-ins are installed in $HOME/.hcss/apps/hipe/plugins. This directory is independent of the HIPE version. This means that if you upgrade to a new version of HIPE, it won't be necessary to reinstall your plug-ins. They will be kept and show up in the next version of HIPE automatically.

This means that your plug-ins are shared between your HIPE versions if you have multiple version of HIPE installed. Each plug-in should indicate the versions of HIPE it is compatible with. If a plug-in does this, HIPE will automatically enable/disable the plug-in depending on the compatibility of the HIPE version running at that moment. This also works as expected if you run two different HIPE versions at the same time (a plug-in could be enabled in one version and disabled in the other).

Disabling plug-ins from the command line

It is theoretically possible that a plug-in causes a major problem during HIPE start-up, causing HIPE to fail before you get the chance to access the Plug-ins panel (under the Tools menu). Or it might be that you see HIPE failing at start-up and you want to disable the plug-ins, just to be sure that the problem lies elsewhere. For these cases we provide a script to disable plug-ins, that can be run from the command line, without starting HIPE. The script is called disable_plugins (disable_plugins.bat on Windows) and lives in the bin directory of the build (same directory as hipe). Running it with no arguments will disable all plug-ins. Running it with one or more arguments will disable those plugins whose name matches one of the arguments:

  • To disable all plug-ins: disable_plugins
  • To disable selected plug-ins: disable_plugins myplugin yourplugin ourplugin

After disabling the plug-ins, you can use the Plug-ins panel to enable them again.

Warning, important disable_plugins is available starting HIPE v8.0.

Further information

For any questions regarding plug-in development, please send an email to Alvar.Garcia@sciops.esa.int.

Original author: Paul Balm - 09 Jun 2011


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Topic revision: r9 - 2014-06-24 - AlvarGarcia
 
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