Basic plugin system using ABCs and the "extensions" package

I need a very simple plugin system for one of my projects. The project is a small WSGI application called mysysadmin that allows you to launch some commands on your system to manage some applications. It also allows you to view log files in your web browser.

It's similar in some ways to WebMin,

So in my application, every tab is a plugin that manages one application. I have a plugin for Apache, another one for MySQL, and so one.

Back to my plugin system. So every plugin that is registered becomes a tab in the WSGI application, as long as it provides all the methods my web application needs to interact with it. So I want to check that each plugin strictly provides the API needed by the main program.

The first tools that came in mind were :
- zope.interface, to be able to provide that each plugin meets the requirements. - setuptools entry points, so it's easy for a third party code to implement a plugin.

But I find both projects a bit complex to implement such a simple plugin system.I could use the standalone Plugins package Phillip provides instead of setuptools, but it still does too much things imho. That's someting I am currently learning by working on packaging matters : one library should not provide too many features.

Extensions : a simple plugin system

So I have started to implement a light-weight plugin system called extensions, which reuses setuptools entry points principles but is more simple to use. The goal of this project is to provide very simple APIs to handle plugins, and to make it work without introducing a new argument into the setup method, like setuptools does.

For instance, if you want to define an apache function in your modules module, in your myapp package, you just call the register function :

from extensions import register

register('mysysadmin.modules', 'apache', 'myapp.modules:apache')

That's it !

And to use it, the mysysadmin application can use a simple API called get, that iterates over all plugins defined for "mysysadmin.modules" :

from extensions import get

for plugin in get(group='mysysadmin.modules'):

    # do something with the plugin

The magic is done by writing in the .egg-info directory installed for the package that contains each plugin, a PLUGIN file that contains the list of registered elements. It's an idea borrowed from setuptoools entry points. So get iterates over all .egg-info directories in your path and load the PLUGIN files it finds. Nothing new here. That's how setuptools does, and that's perfect.

If you have any feedback on extensions, let me know !

Strict plugins

The other need is to strictly check that every plugin provides the API needed, e.g. fulfill the requirements. This is what we could call Design by contract.

You can provide a base class for this, and ask the plugins to inherit from it. Or you can ask the Plugin to provide a marker to specify it implements a given behavior. zope.interface can do a nice job for the latter,and let you check that a given object implements an interface.

But I wanted to give a shot to the brand new Python ABCs and make sure anyone can write a plugin in plain Python, without having to rely on any kind of marker system. ABCs will let you check that a class implements some methods without requiring it to inherit from a specific class, to implement a specific interface or provide a custom marker. Pure duck typing !

So let's define for our application a Plugin class, that gives the signature every plugin will need to provide. It uses ABCMeta as its meta class, and the abstractmethod for every method that should be implemented by every plugin.

Here's an extract :
from abc import ABCMeta, abstractmethod

class Plugin(object):

   __metaclass__ = ABCMeta


    def get_command_list(self):

        return []


    def run_command(self, name):



    def __subclasshook__(cls, klass):

        if cls is Plugin:

            for method in cls.__abstractmethods__:

                if any(method in base.__dict__ for base in klass.__mro__):


                return NotImplemented

            return True

        return NotImplemented

The __subclasshook__ method is a class method that will be called everytime a class is tested using issubclass(klass, Plugin). In that case, it will check that every method marked with the abstractmethod decorator is provided by the class.

So basically, the application can discover and use the plugins, with:

from extensions import get

for plugin in get(group='mysysadmin.modules'):

    klass = plugin.load()

    if not issubclass(klass, Plugin):'sorry, not a suitable plugin')


    # do something with the plugin


Abstract Base Classes are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!