Plugin Directory Structure

The basics

There are a few things that any plugin must contain: the plugin folder, the plugin INI file, and the main plugin PHP file.

Plugin folder

An Omeka plugin must have one top-level folder that all the other folders and files are contained in. This folder is what users end up putting in their installation’s plugins/ directory.

Omeka uses the folder names to keep track of which plugins are installed and activated, so once you pick a folder name, you should stick with it. The folder name also determines things like the default URLs that will be used if your plugin adds pages of its own.

There are a few principles you should keep in mind when picking a plugin folder name. The name should be:

  • Unique: the name must not conflict with an existing plugin name
  • Simple: the name should be concise and to-the-point
  • Descriptive: the name should describe the plugin, at least to some degree
  • CamelCased: the name must contain no spaces, and the first letter of every “word” should be capitalized (e.g.: SimplePages, ExhibitBuilder)

In addition, the human-readable name you set in the plugin.ini should usually be the “normal” equivalent of your folder name, so users can easily tell which folder goes with which plugin.

Main plugin file

The most important file in most plugins is the main plugin file. This is the file Omeka actually loads when loading the plugin, and its where all the hooks and filters are registered and defined.

The main plugin file must have the same name as the plugin folder, with Plugin.php tacked onto the end. For example, a plugin in the folder Foo will have a main plugin file named FooPlugin.php.

The FooPlugin.php file must contain a PHP class with the same name (without the .php). Generally, this class will be a subclass of Omeka_Plugin_AbstractPlugin. For more information about how to write and use a main plugin class, see Understanding Omeka_Plugin_AbstractPlugin.

Note

Omeka also supports another, older, type of main plugin file, at plugin.php. This file is plain PHP code and is not required to contain a class. Current plugins mostly use the class-based main file, however.

Plugin information file (plugin.ini)

The INI file for the plugin, plugin.ini is used both by Omeka itself and the plugin directory on omeka.org. Most of what the INI file contains is metadata about the plugin, like the name of the plugin, the author, and a description. However, some fields are internally used by Omeka when loading the plugin.

The first line in any plugin.ini file should be [info]. The rest of the file consists of various fields, one on each line. The possible fields are:

name
The name of the plugin.
author
The plugin’s author.
description
A short description of the plugin.
version
The plugin’s version number. Omeka uses this to determine when a user has upgraded a plugin.
license
The software license the plugin is released under. This key is used by the plugins directory on omeka.org.
link
A URL for information or documentation about the plugin.
support_link
A URL for users to go to for help with the plugin or to report an issue.
omeka_minimum_version
The minimum version of Omeka needed to run the plugin. Omeka will refuse to install or load any plugin that requires a higher Omeka version.
omeka_target_version
The most recent version the plugin is intended to work on and was tested on. Omeka itself does not report or use this value, but it does appear on the omeka.org plugin directory.
required_plugins
Other plugins that must be installed for the plugin to work. Plugins must be specified by their folder names, and multiple required plugins are separated by commas. Omeka will refuse to load the plugin if any of the required plugins are missing, and will make sure the plugin loads after all plugins it requires.
optional_plugins
Other plugins that the plugin can work with. Plugins must be specified by their folder names, and multiple required plugins are separated by commas. Omeka will make sure the plugin loads after all plugins it requires.

Here is an example plugin.ini that uses all the possible fields:

[info]
name = "Foo"
author = "My Name"
description = "Does this, that, and the other thing."
version = "1.0"
license = "GPLv3"
link = "http://example.com/my-plugin"
support_link = "http://example.com/my-plugin/support"
omeka_minimum_version = "2.0"
omeka_target_version = "2.2"
required_plugins = "ExhibitBuilder,SimplePages"
optional_plugins = "Bar,Baz"

Other common folders

For a plugin that merely needs to use hooks and filters to modify existing things in Omeka, the bare basics are enough, and pretty much everything can be done within the main plugin file alone.

Adding Pages: Controllers and Views

Plugins that want to add totally new pages to Omeka must do so using Controllers and Views.

Controllers are PHP classes that handle basically the “glue” necessary to make a page work: retrieving data from the database, determining if a user has permission to see what’s on the page, and other necessary tasks for getting whatever data is necessary for the page to be displayed.

Views are PHP files containing code for displaying a page. Typically, a view will take data set by its corresponding controller and print it out as HTML.

Controllers

The controllers/ folder within a plugin contains controller classes. In plugins, the internal name of a controller class must prepend the name of the plugin, but the name of the file must not. For example, to create an “index” controller for MyPlugin, you would create a class named MyPlugin_IndexController and place it at controllers/IndexController.php.

Controllers extend an Omeka class Omeka_Controller_AbstractActionController, but the controller system is all built off of Zend Framework. See the Zend documentation on controllers for some basic information on controllers.

Views

The views/ folder contains view files. Generally, each view file corresponds with a controller and an action (together, a controller and action basically describe one page).

Views are bare PHP files, not classes: they simply contain code to display a page. (Some views actually display just part of a page or something else; these are called “partials.”)

In a plugin, the views/ folder has three subfolders:

  • views/admin/ for view files visible only in the Omeka admin interface
  • views/public/ for view files visible only on public pages
  • views/shared/ for view files available on both the admin and public sides

Under each subfolder the structure is the same: a folder for each controller, and inside that folder, a view file for each action. Names of controllers and actions, when used in views, are written in hyphen-separated-lowercase. As an example, Public-facing views for the previous example’s MyPlugin_IndexController controller would correspond to a folder views/public/index.

Custom database tables: Models

Plugins with simple needs can often store data without needing to create their own database tables, just using existing Omeka systems like options or element texts. For plugins with different or more complicated needs, they can create their own tables and manage them with models in the models/ folder.

Two types of files are used as models: record classes and table classes. More information on each is available at their respective links.

Additional code: Libraries

The libraries/ folder simply contains additional PHP classes used by the plugin. Files under this folder are automatically set up to be autoloaded using the PSR-0 file/folder structure. Code here can include classes written specifically for the plugin, as well as external libraries.

Internationalization

The languages/ folder contains translations of the plugin’s text into different languages. For more information about internationalization, see the Internationalization page.