TWiki Plugins

Add functionality to TWiki with readily available plugins; create plugins based on APIs


You can add plugins to extend TWiki functionality, without altering the core code. A plug-in approach lets you:

  • add virtually unlimited features while keeping the main TWiki code compact and efficient;
  • heavily customize an installation and still do clean updates to new versions of TWiki;
  • rapidly develop new TWiki functions in Perl using the plugin API.

Everything to do with TWiki plugins - demos, new releases, downloads, development, general discussion - is available at, in the TWiki:Plugins web.

TWiki plugins are developed and contributed by interested members of the community. Plugins are provided on an 'as is' basis; they are not a part of TWiki, but are independently developed and maintained.

Relevant links on

See other types of extensions: TWikiAddOns, TWikiContribs, TWikiSkins

Installing Plugins

Each TWiki plugin comes with its own documentation: step-by-step installation instructions, a detailed description of any special requirements, version details, and a working example for testing. Many plugins have an install script that automates these steps for you.

Special Requirements: Some plugins need certain Perl modules to be preinstalled on the host system. Plugins may also use other resources, like graphics, other modules, applications, and templates. You should be able to find detailed instructions in the plugin's documentation.

Each plugin has a standard release topic, located in the TWiki:Plugins web at There's usually a number of other related topics, such as a developers page, and an appraisal page.

On-Site Pretesting

The recommended approach to testing new plugins before making them public is to create a second local TWiki installation, and test the plugin there. You can allow selected users access to the test area. Once you are satisfied that it won't compromise your main installation, you can install it there as well.

InstalledPlugins shows which plugins are: 1) installed, 2) loading properly, and 3) what TWiki:Codev.PluginHandlers they invoke. Any failures are shown in the Errors section. The %FAILEDPLUGINS% variable can be used to debug failures. You may also want to check your webserver error log and the various TWiki log files.

Some Notes on Plugin Performance

The performance of the system depends to some extent on the number of plugins installed and on the plugin implementation. Some plugins impose no measurable performance decrease, some do. For example, a Plugin might use many Perl libraries that need to be initialized with each page view (unless you run mod_perl). You can only really tell the performance impact by installing the plugin and by measuring the performance with and without the new plugin. Use the TWiki:Plugins.PluginBenchmarkAddOn, or test manually with the Apache ab utility. Example on Unix:
time wget -qO /dev/null /twiki/bin/view/TWiki/AbcPlugin

TIP If you need to install an "expensive" plugin, but you only need its functionality only in a subset of your data, you can disable it elsewhere by defining the %DISABLEDPLUGINS% TWiki variable.

Define DISABLEDPLUGINS to be a comma-separated list of names of plugins to disable. Define it in Main.TWikiPreferences to disable those plugins everywhere, in the WebPreferences topic to disable them in an individual web, or in a topic to disable them in that topic. For example,

   * Set DISABLEDPLUGINS = SpreadSheetPlugin, EditTablePlugin

Managing Installed Plugins

Some plugins require additional settings or offer extra options that you have to select. Also, you may want to make a plugin available only in certain webs, or temporarily disable it. And may want to list all available plugins in certain topics. You can handle all of these management tasks with simple procedures:

Enabling Plugins

Plugins can be enabled and disabled with the configure script. An installed plugin needs to be enabled before it can be used.

Plugin Evaluation Order

By default, TWiki executes plugins in alphabetical order on plugin name. It is possible to change the order, for example to evaluate database variables before the spreadsheet CALCs. This can be done with {PluginsOrder} in the plugins section of configure.

Plugin-Specific Settings

Some plugins are configured with plugin preferences variables, newer plugins with configure variables.

Configure variables are accessible though the configure interface.

Plugin preferences variables are defined in the plugin topic and can be overloaded. The SHORTDESCRIPTION preferences variable is always present, it is needed for the TWiki:Plugins repository on Example preferences variable defined in the TablePlugin topic:

  • Set SHORTDESCRIPTION = Control attributes of tables and sorting of table columns

Preferences variables of active plugins can be retrieved anywhere in TWiki with %<pluginname>_<var>%, such as %TABLEPLUGIN_SHORTDESCRIPTION%. They can also be redefined with the %<pluginname>_<var>% setting at a lower level in the Main.TWikiPreferences or at the web level. For an easier upgrade it is recommended to customize plugin preferences variables in Main.TWikiPreferences only.

Listing Active Plugins

Plugin status variables let you list all active plugins wherever needed.

This site is running TWiki version TWiki-4.2.2, Wed, 06 Aug 2008, build 17396, plugin API version 1.2


On this TWiki site, the enabled plugins are: SpreadSheetPlugin, AlbumOfSnapsPlugin, ApprovalPlugin, AttachmentListPlugin, CaptchaPlugin, CommentPlugin, CounterPlugin, EditTablePlugin, EmptyPlugin, ImageGalleryPlugin, ImagePlugin, InterwikiPlugin, NewsPlugin, PreferencesPlugin, RenderListPlugin, SendEmailPlugin, SlideShowPlugin, SmiliesPlugin, TablePlugin, TagMePlugin, TinyMCEPlugin, TopicTranslationsPlugin, TwistyPlugin, WysiwygPlugin.


  • SpreadSheetPlugin (any TWiki, $Rev: 17387 (11 Aug 2008) $): Add spreadsheet calculation like "$SUM( $ABOVE() )" to TWiki tables and other topic text
  • AlbumOfSnapsPlugin (Dakar, $Rev: 10613 (12 Dec 2008) $):
  • ApprovalPlugin (1.0, $Rev: 3923 (2009-05-16) $): Defines a set of states for one more or topics, with each state requiring approval by one or more users.
  • AttachmentList: (disabled)
  • AttachmentListPlugin (1.2.6, $Rev: 17172 (28 Jul 2008) $): Displays a formattable list of topic attachments, anywhere in a topic.
  • BatchUploadPlugin: (disabled)
  • CaptchaPlugin (Dakar, 1.5-pre4): To prevent automated bots from spamming
  • CommentPlugin (03 Aug 2008, $Rev: 17302 (11 Aug 2008) $): Allows users to quickly post comments to a page without an edit/preview/save cycle
  • CounterPlugin (Dakar, $Rev: 14404 (12 Dec 2008) $): This plugin maintains the Visitor Count for the site.
  • EditTablePlugin (4.8.4, $Rev: 17302 (11 Aug 2008) $): Edit TWiki tables using edit fields, date pickers and drop down boxes
  • EmptyPlugin (TWiki-4.2, $Rev: 15942 (11 Aug 2008) $): Empty Plugin used as a template for new Plugins
  • ImageGalleryPlugin (3.72, $Rev: 17034 (16 Jul 2008) $): Displays image gallery with auto-generated thumbnails from attachments
  • ImagePlugin (2010-08-01, $Rev: 19301 (2010-08-01) $): Control the display and alignment of images using an easy syntax
  • InterwikiPlugin (03 Aug 2008, $Rev: 14913 (17 Sep 2007) $): Link ExternalSite:Page text to external sites based on aliases defined in a rules topic
  • MultiEditPlugin: (disabled)
  • NewsPlugin (Dakar, $Rev: 15565 (12 Dec 2008) $): %NEWS% generates a short headlines topic from a list of news
  • PreferencesPlugin (TWiki-4.2, $Rev: 15487 (11 Aug 2008) $): Allows editing of preferences using fields predefined in a form
  • RenderListPlugin (2.0, $Rev: 16235 (11 Aug 2008) $): Render bullet lists in a variety of formats
  • SendEmailPlugin (1.2.2, $Rev: 17666 (12 Dec 2008) $): Allows to send e-mail through an e-mail form
  • SlideShowPlugin (02 Aug 2008, $Rev: 17260 (11 Aug 2008) $): Create web based presentations based on topics with headings.
  • SmiliesPlugin (Dakar, $Rev: 16049 (11 Aug 2008) $): Render smilies as icons, like smile for  :-) or eek! for  :eek:
  • TablePlugin (1.034, $Rev: 17367 (11 Aug 2008) $): Control attributes of tables and sorting of table columns
  • TagMePlugin (TWiki 4, 1.046): Tag wiki content collectively to find content by keywords
  • TinyMCEPlugin (03 Aug 2008, $Rev: 17302 (11 Aug 2008) $): Integration of TinyMCE? with WysiwygPlugin
  • TopicTranslationsPlugin (Dakar, $Rev: 15568 (12 Dec 2008) $): Manages a topic's translations into several languages.
  • TwistyPlugin (1.4.10, $Rev: 15653 (19 Nov 2007) $): Twisty section JavaScript library to open/close content dynamically
  • WysiwygPlugin (03 Aug 2008, $Rev: 17359 (11 Aug 2008) $): Translator framework for Wysiwyg editors


SpreadSheetPlugin none
AlbumOfSnapsPlugin none
ApprovalPlugin none
TWiki::Plugins::AttachmentList could not be loaded.  Errors were: 
Can't locate TWiki/Plugins/ in @INC (@INC contains: /var/www/twiki422/lib . /etc/perl /usr/local/lib/perl/5.10.0 /usr/local/share/perl/5.10.0 /usr/lib/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /usr/lib/perl/5.10 /usr/share/perl/5.10 /usr/local/lib/site_perl /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//arch /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//5.10.0/x86_64-linux-gnu-thread-multi /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//5.10.0 /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib/) at (eval 47) line 1.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at (eval 47) line 1.

AttachmentListPlugin none
TWiki::Plugins::BatchUploadPlugin could not be loaded.  Errors were: 
Can't locate Archive/ in @INC (@INC contains: /var/www/twiki422/lib . /etc/perl /usr/local/lib/perl/5.10.0 /usr/local/share/perl/5.10.0 /usr/lib/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /usr/lib/perl/5.10 /usr/share/perl/5.10 /usr/local/lib/site_perl /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//arch /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//5.10.0/x86_64-linux-gnu-thread-multi /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//5.10.0 /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib/) at /var/www/twiki422/lib/TWiki/Plugins/ line 28.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /var/www/twiki422/lib/TWiki/Plugins/ line 28.
Compilation failed in require at (eval 51) line 1.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at (eval 51) line 1.

CaptchaPlugin none
CommentPlugin none
CounterPlugin none
EditTablePlugin none
EmptyPlugin none
ImageGalleryPlugin none
ImagePlugin none
InterwikiPlugin none
TWiki::Plugins::MultiEditPlugin could not be loaded.  Errors were: 
Can't locate TWiki/Contrib/ in @INC (@INC contains: /var/www/twiki422/lib . /etc/perl /usr/local/lib/perl/5.10.0 /usr/local/share/perl/5.10.0 /usr/lib/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /usr/lib/perl/5.10 /usr/share/perl/5.10 /usr/local/lib/site_perl /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//arch /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//5.10.0/x86_64-linux-gnu-thread-multi /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib//5.10.0 /var/www/twiki422/lib/CPAN/lib/) at /var/www/twiki422/lib/TWiki/Plugins/ line 28.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /var/www/twiki422/lib/TWiki/Plugins/ line 28.
Compilation failed in require at (eval 81) line 1.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at (eval 81) line 1.

NewsPlugin none
PreferencesPlugin none
RenderListPlugin none
SendEmailPlugin none
SlideShowPlugin none
SmiliesPlugin none
TablePlugin none
TagMePlugin none
TinyMCEPlugin none
TopicTranslationsPlugin none
TwistyPlugin none
WysiwygPlugin none
This handler is deprecated - please check for updated versions of the plugins that use it!
27 plugins

The TWiki Plugin API

The Application Programming Interface (API) for TWiki plugins provides the specifications for hooking into the core TWiki code from your external Perl plugin module.

Available Core Functions

The TWikiFuncDotPm module (lib/TWiki/ describes all the interfaces available to plugins. Plugins should only use the interfaces described in this module.

ALERT! Note: If you use other core functions not described in, you run the risk of creating security holes. Also, your plugin will likely break and require updating when you upgrade to a new version of TWiki.

Predefined Hooks

In addition to TWiki core functions, plugins can use predefined hooks, or callbacks, as described in the lib/TWiki/Plugins/ module.

  • All but the initPlugin are disabled. To enable a callback, remove DISABLE_ from the function name.

TWiki:Codev/StepByStepRenderingOrder helps you decide which rendering handler to use.

Hints on Writing Fast Plugins

  • Delay initialization as late as possible. For example, if your plugin is a simple syntax processor, you might delay loading extra Perl modules until you actually see the syntax in the text.
    • For example, use an eval block like this:
      eval { require IPC::Run }
      return "<font color=\"red\">SamplePlugin: Can't load required modules ($@)</font>" if $@;
  • Keep the main plugin package as small as possible; create other packages that are loaded if and only if they are used. For example, create sub-packages of BathPlugin in lib/TWiki/Plugins/BathPlugin/.
  • Avoid using preferences in the plugin topic; set $NO_PREFS_IN_TOPIC if you possibly can, as that will stop TWiki from reading the plugin topic for every page. Use Config.spec instead.
  • Use registered tag handlers
  • Measure the performance to see the difference

Version Detection

To eliminate the incompatibility problems that are bound to arise from active open plugin development, a plugin versioning system is provided for automatic compatibility checking.

  • All plugin packages require a $VERSION variable. This should be an integer, or a subversion version id.

  • The initPlugin handler should check all dependencies and return 1 if the initialization is OK or 0 if something went wrong.
    • The plugin initialization code does not register a plugin that returns 0 (or that has no initPlugin handler).

  • $TWiki::Plugins::VERSION in the TWiki::Plugins module contains the TWiki plugin API version, currently 1.2.
    • You can also use the %PLUGINVERSION{}% variable to query the plugin API version or the version of installed plugins.


  • Badly written plugins can open huge security holes in TWiki. This is especially true if care isn't taken to prevent execution of arbitrary commands on the server.
  • Don't allow sensitive configuration data to be edited by users. it is better to add sensitive configuration options to the %TWiki::cfg hash than adding it as preferences in the plugin topic.
  • Always use the TWiki::Sandbox to execute commands.
  • Always audit the plugins you install, and make sure you are happy with the level of security provided. While every effort is made to monitor plugin authors activities, at the end of the day they are uncontrolled user contributions.

Creating Plugins

With a reasonable knowledge of the Perl scripting language, you can create new plugins or modify and extend existing ones. Basic plug-in architecture uses an Application Programming Interface (API), a set of software instructions that allow external code to interact with the main program. The TWiki Plugin API provides the programming interface for TWiki.

Anatomy of a Plugin

A (very) basic TWiki plugin consists of two files:

  • a Perl module, e.g.
  • a documentation topic, e.g. MyFirstPlugin.txt

The Perl module can be a block of code that talks to with TWiki alone, or it can include other elements, like other Perl modules (including other plugins), graphics, TWiki templates, external applications (ex: a Java applet), or just about anything else it can call. In particular, files that should be web-accessible (graphics, Java applets ...) are best placed as attachments of the MyFirstPlugin topic. Other needed Perl code is best placed in a lib/TWiki/Plugins/MyFirstPlugin/ directory.

The plugin API handles the details of connecting your Perl module with main TWiki code. When you're familiar with the Plugin API, you're ready to develop plugins.

The TWiki:Plugins.BuildContrib module provides a lot of support for plugins development, including a plugin creator, automatic publishing support, and automatic installation script writer. If you plan on writing more than one plugin, you probably need it.

Creating the Perl Module

Copy file lib/TWiki/Plugins/ to <name> The module contains mostly empty functions, so it does nothing, but it's ready to be used. Customize it. Refer to the Plugin API specs for more information.

If your plugin uses its own modules and objects, you must include the name of the plugin in the package name. For example, write Package MyFirstPlugin::Attrs; instead of just Package Attrs;. Then call it using:

use TWiki::Plugins::MyFirstPlugin::Attrs;
$var = MyFirstPlugin::Attrs->new();

Writing the Documentation Topic

The plugin documentation topic contains usage instructions and version details. It serves the plugin files as FileAttachments for downloading. (The doc topic is also included in the distribution package.) To create a documentation topic:

  1. Copy the plugin topic template from To copy the text, go to TWiki:Plugins/PluginPackage and:
    • enter the plugin name in the "How to Create a Plugin" section
    • click Create
    • select all in the Edit box & copy
    • Cancel the edit
    • go back to your site to the TWiki web
    • In the GoBox enter your plugin name, for example MyFirstPlugin, press enter and create the new topic
    • paste & save new plugin topic on your site
  2. Customize your plugin topic.
    • Important: In case you plan to publish your plugin on, use Interwiki names for author names and links to topics, such as TWiki:Main/TWikiGuest. This is important because links should work properly in a plugin topic installed on any TWiki, not just on
  3. Document the performance data you gathered while measuring the performance
  4. Save your topic, for use in packaging and publishing your plugin.

OUTLINE: Doc Topic Contents
Check the plugins web on for the latest plugin doc topic template. Here's a quick overview of what's covered:

Syntax Rules: <Describe any special text formatting that will be rendered.>"

Example: <Include an example of the plugin in action. Possibly include a static HTML version of the example to compare if the installation was a success!>"

Plugin Settings: <Description and settings for custom plugin %VARIABLES%, and those required by TWiki.>"

  • Plugins Preferences <If user settings are needed, explain... Entering values works exactly like TWikiPreferences and WebPreferences: six (6) spaces and then:>"
    • Set <EXAMPLE = value added>

Plugin Installation Instructions: <Step-by-step set-up guide, user help, whatever it takes to install and run, goes here.>"

Plugin Info: <Version, credits, history, requirements - entered in a form, displayed as a table. Both are automatically generated when you create or edit a page in the TWiki:Plugins web.>"

Packaging for Distribution

The TWiki:Plugins.BuildContrib is a powerful build environment that is used by the TWiki project to build TWiki itself, as well as many of the plugins. You don't have to use it, but it is highly recommended!

If you don't want (or can't) use the BuildContrib, then a minimum plugin release consists of a Perl module with a WikiName that ends in Plugin, ex:, and a documentation page with the same name(MyFirstPlugin.txt).

  1. Distribute the plugin files in a directory structure that mirrors TWiki. If your plugin uses additional files, include them all:
    • lib/TWiki/Plugins/
    • data/TWiki/MyFirstPlugin.txt
    • pub/TWiki/MyFirstPlugin/uparrow.gif [a required graphic]
  2. Create a zip archive with the plugin name ( and add the entire directory structure from Step 1. The archive should look like this:
    • lib/TWiki/Plugins/
    • data/TWiki/MyFirstPlugin.txt
    • pub/TWiki/MyFirstPlugin/uparrow.gif

Measuring and Improving the Plugin Performance

A high quality plugin performs well. You can use the TWiki:Plugins.PluginBenchmarkAddOn to measure your TWiki:Plugins.PluginBenchmarks. The data is needed as part of the Documentation Topic.

See also Hints on Writing Fast Plugins.

Publishing for Public Use

You can release your tested, packaged plugin to the TWiki community through the TWiki:Plugins web. All plugins submitted to are available for download and further development in TWiki:Plugins/PluginPackage.

Publish your plugin by following these steps:

  1. Post the plugin documentation topic in the TWiki:Plugins/PluginPackage:
    • enter the plugin name in the "How to Create a Plugin" section, for example MyFirstPlugin
    • paste in the topic text from Writing the Documentation Topic and save
  2. Attach the distribution zip file to the topic, ex:
  3. Link from the doc page to a new, blank page named after the plugin, and ending in Dev, ex: MyFirstPluginDev. This is the discussion page for future development. (User support for plugins is handled in TWiki:Support.)
  4. Put the plugin into the SVN repository, see TWiki:Plugins/ReadmeFirst (optional)

NEW Once you have done the above steps once, you can use the BuildContrib to upload updates to your plugin.

Thank you very much for sharing your plugin with the TWiki community smile

Recommended Storage of Plugin Specific Data

Plugins sometimes need to store data. This can be plugin internal data such as cache data, or data generated for browser consumption such as images. Plugins should store data using TWikiFuncDotPm functions that support saving and loading of topics and attachments.

Plugin Internal Data

You can create a plugin "work area" using the TWiki::Func::getWorkArea() function, which gives you a persistent directory where you can store data files. By default they will not be web accessible. The directory is guaranteed to exist, and to be writable by the webserver user. For convenience, TWiki::Func::storeFile() and TWiki::Func::readFile() are provided to persistently store and retrieve simple data in this area.

Web Accessible Data

Topic-specific data such as generated images can be stored in the topic's attachment area, which is web accessible. Use the TWiki::Func::saveAttachment() function to store the data.

Recommendation for file name:

  • Prefix the filename with an underscore (the leading underscore avoids a name clash with files attached to the same topic)
  • Identify where the attachment originated from, typically by including the plugin name in the file name
  • Use only alphanumeric characters, underscores, dashes and periods to avoid platform dependency issues and URL issues
  • Example: _GaugePlugin_img123.gif

Web specific data can be stored in the plugin's attachment area, which is web accessible. Use the TWiki::Func::saveAttachment() function to store the data.

Recommendation for file names in plugin attachment area:

  • Prefix the filename with an underscore
  • Include the name of the web in the filename
  • Use only alphanumeric characters, underscores, dashes and periods to avoid platform dependency issues and URL issues
  • Example: _Main_roundedge-ul.gif

Integrating with configure

Some TWiki extensions have setup requirements that are best integrated into configure rather than trying to use TWiki preferences variables. These extensions use Config.spec files to publish their configuration requirements.

Config.spec files are read during TWiki configuration. Once a Config.spec has defined a configuration item, it is available for edit through the standard configure interface. Config.spec files are stored in the 'plugin directory' e.g. lib/TWiki/Plugins/BathPlugin/Config.spec.

Structure of a Config.spec file

The Config.spec file for a plugin starts with the plugin announcing what it is:
# ---+ BathPlugin
# This plugin senses the level of water in your bath, and ensures the plug
# is not removed while the water is still warm.
This is followed by one or more configuration items. Each configuration item has a type, a description and a default. For example:
# **SELECT Plastic,Rubber,Metal**
# Select the plug type
$TWiki::cfg{BathPlugin}{PlugType} = 'Plastic';

# **NUMBER**
# Enter the chain length in cm
$TWiki::cfg{BathPlugin}{ChainLength} = '30';

# Turn this option off to disable the water temperature alarm
$TWiki::cfg{BathPlugin}{TempSensorEnabled} = '1';
The type (e.g. **SELECT** ) tells configure to how to prompt for the value. It also tells configure how to do some basic checking on the value you actually enter. All the comments between the type and the configuration item are taken as part of the description. The configuration item itself defines the default value for the configuration item. The above spec defines the configuration items $TWiki::cfg{BathPlugin}{PlugType}, $TWiki::cfg{BathPlugin}{ChainLength}, and $TWiki::cfg{BathPlugin}{TempSensorEnabled} for use in your plugin. For example,
if( $TWiki::cfg{BathPlugin}{TempSensorEnabled} && $curTemperature > 50 ) {
    die "The bathwater is too hot for comfort";

The config.spec file is read by configure, and configure then writes LocalSite.cfg with the values chosen by the local site admin.

A range of types are available for use in Config.spec files:

BOOLEAN A true/false value, represented as a checkbox
COMMAND length A shell command
LANGUAGE A language (selected from {LocalesDir}
NUMBER A number
OCTAL An octal number
PASSWORD length A password (input is hidden)
PATH length A file path
PERL A perl structure, consisting of arrays and hashes
REGEX length A perl regular expression
SELECT choices Pick one of a range of choices
SELECTCLASS root Select a perl package (class)
STRING length A string
URL length A url
URLPATH length A relative URL path

All types can be followed by a comma-separated list of attributes.

EXPERT means this an expert option
M means the setting is mandatory (may not be empty)
H means the option is not visible in configure

See lib/TWiki.spec for many more examples.

Config.spec files are also used for other (non-plugin) extensions. in this case they are stored under the Contrib directory instead of the Plugins directory.

TWiki:TWiki/SpecifyingConfigurationItemsForExtensions has supplemental documentation on configure settings.

Maintaining Plugins

Discussions and Feedback on Plugins

Each published plugin has a plugin development topic on Plugin development topics are named after your plugin and end in Dev, such as MyFirstPluginDev. The plugin development topic is a great resource to discuss feature enhancements and to get feedback from the TWiki community.

Maintaining Compatibility with Earlier TWiki Versions

The plugin interface (TWikiFuncDotPm functions and plugin handlers) evolve over time. TWiki introduces new API functions to address the needs of plugin authors. Plugins using unofficial TWiki internal functions may no longer work on a TWiki upgrade.

Organizations typically do not upgrade to the latest TWiki for many months. However, many administrators still would like to install the latest versions of a plugin on their older TWiki installation. This need is fulfilled if plugins are maintained in a compatible manner.

TIP Tip: Plugins can be written to be compatible with older and newer TWiki releases. This can be done also for plugins using unofficial TWiki internal functions of an earlier release that no longer work on the latest TWiki codebase. Here is an example; the TWiki:TWiki.TWikiPluginsSupplement#MaintainPlugins has more details.

    if( $TWiki::Plugins::VERSION >= 1.1 ) {
        @webs = TWiki::Func::getListOfWebs( 'user,public' );
    } else {
        @webs = TWiki::Func::getPublicWebList( );

Handling deprecated functions

From time-to-time, the TWiki developers will add new functions to the interface (either to TWikiFuncDotPm, or new handlers). Sometimes these improvements mean that old functions have to be deprecated to keep the code manageable. When this happens, the deprecated functions will be supported in the interface for at least one more TWiki release, and probably longer, though this cannot be guaranteed.

When a plugin defines deprecated handlers, a warning will be shown in the list generated by %FAILEDPLUGINS%. Admins who see these warnings should check and if necessary, contact the plugin author, for an updated version of the plugin.

Updated plugins may still need to define deprecated handlers for compatibility with old TWiki versions. In this case, the plugin package that defines old handlers can suppress the warnings in %FAILEDPLUGINS%.

This is done by defining a map from the handler name to the TWiki::Plugins version in which the handler was first deprecated. For example, if we need to define the endRenderingHandler for compatibility with TWiki::Plugins versions before 1.1, we would add this to the plugin:

package TWiki::Plugins::SinkPlugin;
use vars qw( %TWikiCompatibility );
$TWikiCompatibility{endRenderingHandler} = 1.1;
If the currently-running TWiki version is 1.1 or later, then the handler will not be called and the warning will not be issued. TWiki with versions of TWiki::Plugins before 1.1 will still call the handler as required.

Related Topics: DeveloperDocumentationCategory, AdminDocumentationCategory, TWiki:TWiki.TWikiPluginsSupplement

-- Contributors: TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny, TWiki:Main.AndreaSterbini, TWiki:Main.MikeMannix, TWiki:Main.CrawfordCurrie, TWiki:Main.ArthurClemens, TWiki:Main.WillNorris

Topic revision: r34 - 19 Apr 2008 - 20:43:50 - TWikiContributor

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