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Building and Shipping Plugins

This section explains how to start developing a Headlamp plugin, and how to ship it once finished.

Creating a new plugin

This is how to start a new plugin:

npx --yes @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin create headlamp-myfancy
cd headlamp-myfancy
npm run start

There's some basic code inside src/index.tsx.

Now run Headlamp (the desktop app or the development version), and your plugin should be loaded.

Using the above commands means that Headlamp will automatically reload whenever to make a change to the plugin.

ℹ️ This automatic reload does not happen when running in-cluster, even if the plugins folder is changed. i.e. if you want to serve updated plugins, you need to restart the server.

Code Formatting, Linting, and Type Checking

Your plugin has a few tools built in to help make development easier.

Format code with prettier

npm run format

Find code lint issues with eslint

npm run lint

Eslint also allows you to try and automatically fix issues.

npm run lint-fix

Run the type checker

npm run tsc

Run the tests

npm run test

Building for production

To build the previous plugin example for production, run the following command:

cd headlamp-myfancy
npm run build

This will create a file with the bundled plugin in headlamp-myfancy/dist/main.js.

Building a folder of packages at once

For convienience the headlamp-plugin build command can build a package or folder of packages.

npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin build myplugins/headlamp-myfancy
npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin build myplugins

Shipping and Deploying Plugins

Once a plugin is ready to be shipped (built for production) it needs to be placed in a "plugins directory", for Headlamp to load them.

For example, if we have built 3 plugins called MyPlugin1, MyPlugin2, and MyPlugin3, they should be added to a directory in the following structure:


If our plugins are places in myplugins, we can conveniently create that folder with the following command:

npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin extract ./myplugins /path/to/.plugins

This also works individually (for each plugin):

npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin extract ./myplugins/MyPlugin1 /path/to/./plugins

In-cluster deployment with plugins

For in-cluster Headlamp deployments, when running Headlamp's server, the -plugin-dir option should point to the directory:

./headlamp-server -plugins-dir=.plugins

Using plugins on the desktop version

The Headlamp desktop app will look for the plugins directory (in the format mentioned above) either under the user's Headlamp configuration folder, or within the current folder as .plugins if the former doesn't exist.

Bundling plugins with desktop version

To build a Headlamp app with a set of plugins, first extract some plugins into the .plugins folder in the root of the "headlamp" repo.

cd plugins/examples/pod-counter
npm install
npm run build
cd ../..

mkdir .plugins
npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin extract ./plugins/examples/ ./.plugins
ls -la .plugins
make app-linux

For more on how to extract files into there see "Shipping and Deploying Plugins" above.

More on making a headlamp container image including plugins

See the blog post "Get up to speed deploying Headlamp with plugins" for more information on building a container image with your plugins.

Writing storybook stories

What is a storybook story?


Storybook is a tool for UI development. It makes development faster and easier by isolating components. This allows you to work on one component at a time. You can develop entire UIs without needing to start up a complex dev stack, force certain data into your database, or navigate around your application.

See an example in your browser:

$ cd plugins/examples/pod-counter
$ ls src
headlamp-plugin.d.ts index.tsx Message.stories.tsx Message.tsx
$ npm install
$ npm run storybook

Your browser should open and show you a Message component with three different states the component can be in.

Notices that there is a Message.stories.tsx to go along with the Message.tsx which has the <Message> component defined within it. See that file for an example of how to write a story.

Snapshot testing

Another benefit of writing storybook stories is that they can act as unit tests for regression testing. With storyshots it will save snapshots of html for the different states that a component can be in. See the Snapshot tests guide in the storybook documentation for more information.

This is in addition to the benefit of making sure your components can be manually tested and developed quickly in isolation.

See the storybook documentation for full details on storybook.

Running tests on a github action

A workflow for testing your plugin on github with actions.

Below is based on the Building and testing Node.js docs from GitHub.

Place this in a file named something like .github/workflows/headlamp-plugin-github-workflow.yaml in the root of your repo.

name: Headlamp plugin linting, type checking, and testing

branches: [main]
branches: [main]

runs-on: ubuntu-latest

working-directory: ./your-folder-of-plugins

node-version: [18.x]

- uses: actions/checkout@v4
- name: Use Node.js ${{ matrix.node-version }}
uses: actions/setup-node@v3
node-version: ${{ matrix.node-version }}
- run: npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin lint .
- run: npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin format --check .
- run: npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin tsc .
- run: npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin test .
- run: npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin build .

Please see the github documentation for further details on workflows and actions.

Upgrading package

There's a command which handles much of upgrading plugins to the latest headlamp-plugin version. This upgrade command also audits packages, formats code, lints and type checks.

Additionally this handles some code changes needed for plugins. For example, it handles running the material-ui 4 to mui 5 'codemod' code changes, and creates missing configuration added in different versions of headlamp-plugin.

Testing is necessary after running the upgrade command. Of course make sure you have a backup of your plugin folder before running it.

npx @kinvolk/headlamp-plugin upgrade --headlamp-plugin-version=latest your-plugin-folder