Creating Your First Extension

Plugins consist of two things. First, a meta-data file describing the extension which includes things like a name, the author, and where to find the extension. Second, the code which can take the form of a shared library or python module.

Builder supports writing extensions in C, Vala, or Python. We will be using Python for our examples in this tutorial because it is both succinct and easy to get started with.

First, we will look at our extension meta-data file. The file should have the file-suffix of “.plugin” and it’s format is familiar. It starts with a line containing “[Plugin]” indicating this is extension metadata. Then it is followed by a series of “Key=Value” key-pairs.

We will often use the words “extension” and “plugin” interchangeably.

# my_plugin.plugin
Name=My Plugin
Author=Angela Avery


X-Builder-ABI should be set to the version of Builder you are targeting (not including the micro release number). It will only be loaded if the Builder version matches.

Now we can create a simple plugin that will print “hello” when Builder starts and “goodbye” when Builder exits.


import gi

from gi.repository import GObject
from gi.repository import Ide

class MyAppAddin(GObject.Object, Ide.ApplicationAddin):

    def do_load(self, application):

    def do_unload(self, application):

In the python file above, we define a new extension called MyAppAddin. It inherits from GObject.Object (which is our base object) and implements the interface Ide.ApplicationAddin. We wont get too much into objects and interfaces here, but the plugin manager uses this information to determine when and how to load our extension.

The Ide.ApplicationAddin requires that two methods are implemented. The first is called do_load and is executed when the extension should load. And the second is called do_unload and is executed when the plugin should cleanup after itself. Each of the two functions take a parameter called application which is an Ide.Application instance.

Loading our Extension

Now place the two files in ~/.local/share/gnome-builder/plugins as my_plugin.plugin and If we run Builder from the command line, we should see the output from our plugin!

[angela@localhost ~] gnome-builder

Now if we close the window, we should see that our plugin was unloaded.

[angela@localhost ~] gnome-builder

Embedding Resources

Sometimes plugins need to embed resources. Builder will automatically load a file that matches the name $module_name.gresource if it placed alongside the $module_name.plugin file.


If you are writing an extension in C or Vala, simply embed GResources as normal.

First we need to create a my-plugin.gresource.xml file describing our resources
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <gresource prefix="/plugins/my-plugin">
    <file preprocess="xml-stripblanks" compressed="true">gtk/menus.ui</file>

Next, compile the resources using glib-compile-resources.

glib-compile-resources --generate my-plugin.gresource my-plugin.gresource.xml

Now you should have a file named my-plugin.gresource in the current directory. Ship this file along with your my-plugin.plugin and Python module.

Next, continue on to learn about other interfaces you can implement in Builder to extend it’s features!