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How To Create Plug-ins for EmEditor


  1. Getting Started
  2. Start A New Project From Scratch
  3. What Can You Do With a Plug-in?
  4. Potential Problems and How To Fix Them

Prerequisites for this tutorial:

  • Some Visual C++ experience
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • EmEditor Professional

Getting Started

The first part of this tutorial is to make sure we can compile a simple program and get it working in EmEditor.

  1. Download the hello world program and open HelloWorld.vcxproj in Visual Studio.
  2. Build the project in Debug x64 configuration..
  3. Open EmEditor. Go to Tools | Plug-ins | Customize Plug-ins..., click "Add" button and add the DLL (should be in x64\Debug\HelloWorld.dll).
  4. Click on the funny looking light bulb icon in your plug-ins toolbar. Yes, that is supposed to be a light bulb. If you don't see the plug-ins toolbar, you can enable it in View | Toolbars | Plug-ins Toolbar. The plug-in writes "Hello World!" on the editor.

Plug-ins toolbar

  1. Remove the plug-in by opening the Customize Plug-ins window, selecting the HelloWorld plug-in, and clicking "Remove".

Start A New Project From Scratch

You can use HelloWorld as the starting point for your program, or alternatively, follow these instructions to setup a workspace to develop a new plug-in.

  1. Create a new DLL project. In Visual Studio, make a new project using the Dynamic-Link Library template for Visual C++.
  2. Add the three plugin files to your new project. The plugin library contains two header files and one module-definition file that are required to link a plug-in to EmEditor. Treat these files as read-only. The library files are:
    • etlframe.h - helper functions for plug-in.h
    • plugin.h - handles message passing tasks
    • exports.def - exports functions from the plug-in so that they are callable from EmEditor
  3. Make a couple changes to the project properties:
    1. Change the linker settings to use exports.def as the module definition file. In project properties, go to Linker | Input. At the top of the window, change configuration and platform to all, so that this change affects all builds. Change the value of Module Definition File to exports.def.
    2. Under Linker | Input, add shlwapi.lib as an additional dependency.
    3. Change the debugging command to EmEditor.exe. This is optional but recommended, so that the EmEditor is opened when you start debugging. In Debugging, change the Command value to the path to your EmEditor executable.
    4. Go to C/C++ | Code Generation | Runtime Library and change the Runtime Library to "Multi-threaded Debug (/MTd)" for debug configuration, and "Multi-threaded (/MT)" for release configuration.
  4. Create a new header file and add the following code.
    • CETLFrame encapsulates the plug-in. It is constructed only when EmEditor opens, and destroyed only when EmEditor closes.
    • The enum constants contain information about the plug-in, such as the name and icon image of this plug-in. There is more information about these variables in "CETLFrame Member Variables".
    • The functions OnCommand() and OnEvents() are the main entry points for your application.
    • You can learn more about these callback functions, plus some optional ones, in "Messages to Plug-ins" and "Functions to Export".
#pragma once

#include "resource.h"
#include <windows.h>
#include <windowsx.h>
#define VERIFY(f) _ASSERTE(f)
#include "etlframe.h"

class MyCFrame : public CETLFrame<MyCFrame> {
	enum {
		_IDS_NAME = 0,
		_IDS_MENU = 0,
		_IDS_STATUS = 0,
		_IDS_VER = 0,
		_USE_LOC_DLL = 0,
		_IDB_BITMAP = 0,
		_IDB_16C_24 = 0,
		_IDB_TRUE_16_HOT = 0,
		_IDB_TRUE_16_BW = 0,
		_IDB_TRUE_24_HOT = 0,
		_IDB_TRUE_24_BW = 0,

	void OnCommand(HWND hwnd);

	void OnEvents(HWND hwnd, UINT nEvent, LPARAM lParam) {}

	BOOL QueryStatus(HWND hwnd, LPBOOL pbChecked) {
		*pbChecked = FALSE;
		return TRUE;

	BOOL DisableAutoComplete(HWND hwnd) {
		return FALSE;

	BOOL UseDroppedFiles(HWND hwnd) {
		return FALSE;

	BOOL QueryUninstall(HWND hwnd) {
		return FALSE;

	BOOL SetUninstall(HWND hwnd, LPTSTR command, LPTSTR param) {

	BOOL QueryProperties(HWND hwnd) {
		return FALSE;

	BOOL SetProperties(HWND hwnd) {
		return FALSE;

	BOOL PreTranslateMessage(HWND hwnd, MSG* pMsg) {
		return FALSE;

	LRESULT UserMessage(HWND hwnd, WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam) {
		return NULL;
  1. Clear the main .cpp file and add the following code. In this code snippet, change main.h to the name of the header file that you have created in the last step.
    • _ETL_IMPLEMENT calls necessary initialization code, and must come after the definition for CETLFrame.
#include "main.h"

void MyCFrame::OnCommand(HWND hwnd) {
	// TODO
  1. Give the plug-in a name and an icon. EmEditor retrieves this information through resource files.

    1. Add a new resource file to your project. It should have the extension ".rc".
    2. Add a String Table to the resource file. Double click on your resource file to open the Resource View. Now right click on the resource folder and click Add Resource and add a String Table. Each string has an ID and a Caption. Add a string entry for your plug-in name.
    3. Open the Add Resource dialog again and Import a 16 bit color, 16x16 pixel bitmap image to the resource file. If EmEditor is unable to load the icon, try opening and saving it in Paint, as a .bmp with 256 colors.
    4. In the enum of the MyCFrame class, change the value of _IDS_MENU, _IDS_STATUS, and _IDS_NAME to the ID name of the name string, and _IDB_BITMAP to the bitmap ID.
  2. Additional info

    • To include etlframe.h in other files, you must define EE_EXTERN_ONLY before including etlframe.h. (Do that for all source files except for the main .cpp file.) Thus, the top of the new file should look like this:
    #define WIN32_LEAN_AND_MEAN
    #include <windows.h>
    #include <windowsx.h>
    #define VERIFY(f) _ASSERTE(f)
    #define EE_EXTERN_ONLY
    #define ETL_FRAME_CLASS_NAME CMyFrame
    #include "etlframe.h"
    • There is a helpful function called GetFrame() which returns a pointer to your current CETLFrame.

What Can You Do With a Plug-in?

A plug-in is best suited for an application that will be used across many projects, and that requires a graphical interface to be shown. EmEditor also allows you to write macros using Javascript, and this may be an easier option for tasks that don't require C++ or a GUI. This section will outline what you can do with the plug-in API. Refer to the API Documentation for detailed explanations.

  1. A plug-in is able to receive events. Most plug-ins are activated when its button is clicked in the Plug-ins toolbar. When this happens, OnCommand() is called. You can also capture various other events in EmEditor such as selection change, using OnEvents().
  2. A plug-in can retrieve or write text in the editor. To get the text shown in the editor, use Editor_GetLineW() or Editor_GetSelTextW(). (There is currently no function to retrieve the entire document in one call.) You can write text using Editor_InsertW(), Editor_InsertFileW() and other related functions. There is an option to run a macro as well, with Editor_RunMacro(). Most commands will require a window handle to your plug-in, which is obtained through CETLFrame::m_hWnd.
  3. You can send commands that are available in the menu bar using 'Editor_ExecCommand()'.
  4. You can search for a string using Editor_FindW() and Editor_FindRegex().
  5. Manipulate CSV documents with Editor_GetCell(), Editor_GetColumn(), Editor_AutoFill().
  6. Get information about the current workspace with Editor_Info(), Editor_GetClip(), Editor_GetVersion(), etc.
  7. To display a graphical interface, you first must get a handle to the DLL using EEGetLocaleInstanceHandle(). Dialogs are simple to make, but to be able to use the editor while interacting with the plug-in, a better option might be to make a sidebar or a toolbar, such as what Projects and HTMLBar employs. For debugging or for outputting simple data, you can write to the status bar of the editor using Editor_SetStatusW().

Potential Problems and How To Fix Them

Here are some problems that I came across while making HelloWorld and CharacterCount:

  • "... is not a member of 'CMyFrame'." You did not implement this required function or variable.
  • "C:...\NewPlugin.dll is not a valid Win32 application." See step 3.3 ("Change the debugging command to EmEditor.exe").
  • Linking issues related to the plug-in library: "error C2027: use of undefined type 'CMyFrame'", "error LNK2019: unresolved external symbol ... _ETLCreateFrame", "error C2027: use of undefined type 'ETL_FRAME_CLASS_NAME'", "error LNK2005: "void __cdecl DeleteAllFrames(void)" ... already defined in NewPlugin.obj". Make sure all required header includes are added, in the correct order.
  • "'_USE_LOC_DLL': undeclared identifier." You must either define the variable _USE_LOC_DLL or #define EE_EXTERN_ONLY. See step 7.
  • My new plug-in does not show on the plug-in list after adding it. Make sure you are importing the correct 32 or 64 bit version of your plug-in.
  • My plug-in icon on the toolbar looks like the Internet Explorer icon (or some other icon). The BMP image was not readable. Read step 6.3.

The Emurasoft organization page contains several source codes for plug-ins that you may reference.