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Origen App Generators

This plugin implements all of the starter applications that can be generated from the origen new command. It is maintained separately from Origen core so that improvements and new application templates can be released independently of the base platform.

Additionally, it provides infrastructure and APIs to allow companies to create their own version of this plugin, allowing them to create their own customized starter application templates and then make them available to their users via origen new.

To extend origen new with your own custom application generators, run origen new and create your own version of this plugin by selecting the following options:

  • 1 - Origen Infrastructure
    • 0 - A plugin to make your own application templates available through the 'origen new' command

To hook your plugin into the origen new command, either release it to your private gem server, check it into your Git server, or copy it to a central location that is accessible to all of your users. Then update the app_generators attribute within your site_config file to point to wherever you have put it.

If you don't see it straight away, run origen new with the --fetch option to force it to fetch the latest versions of the generators.

The notes that follow apply to both the origen_app_generators plugin and any company-specific generator plugins.


To create a new application generator run the following command:

origen app_gen:new

This will create a new generator within the lib directory and then update the top-level file in the lib directory to properly hook it into the origen new system. By default, this new generator will create the same empty application or plugin starter that you would get from selecting option 0 in the origen new command.

You can test run your new generator by running the following command:

origen app_gen:test

This will build a new app in the application's tmp directory, and when complete you can cd into that directory and run origen -v to verify that it can boot. At this point you can further interact with the application in the normal way to test out anything else.

During the creation of a new generator, you will likely repeat this many times as you go through the process of modifying the generator and then observing the new output. To make this easier, a system is built in that allows you to automate the answers to the questions that are given to the user when creating a new application.

Within the top-level lib file you will see a set of test inputs something like this:

  # 0 - TestEngineering::MicroTestBlock
  ['1', '0', :default, :default, 'A cool plugin', 'yes', :default]
] # END_OF_TEST_INPUTS Don't remove this comment, it is used by the app_gen:new command!

The last item in the array will be a starter set of inputs that has been created for the new genrator that was just added. To test the new generator with these inputs supply the -i option and supply the index number of the set of inputs you wish to apply:

origen app_gen:test -i 0

Modify the inputs as required as you further develop the generator, making sure to add a value for any additional questions that you add. The :default keyword can be used for any questions which have a default option that you wish to select, this is equivalent to just pressing return in response to the given question.

In all cases an additional argument must be supplied at the end, this tells the test command about any commands that you want to run within the generated application to test it. Supplying the :default keyword for this argument will execute the following tests:

  • origen -v
  • origen lint --no-correct
  • Test that the default target loads cleanly
  • origen web compile --no-serve

If you want to run no tests, set this final argument to nil.

Alternatively you can specify your own set of operations by supplying an array of commands:

['1', '0', :default, :default, 'A cool plugin', 'yes', ['origen -v', 'origen g my_pattern']]

Within the array of custom commands you can also supply the :default and :load_target keywords to execute the default set of tests or the load target test respectively, for example:

['1', '0', :default, :default, 'A cool plugin', 'yes', [:default, 'origen g my_pattern']]

To run a regression test which will execute all sets of test inputs, run:

origen app_gen:test -r

You should find the generator file itself (the one created for you in a sub-folder of the lib directory) well commented and with pointers towards examples from existing generators.

Once you are happy with your new generator release your application generators plugin in the normal way. The version of the generators picked up by the origen new command is automatically refreshed on a per-user basis every 24 hours, or if you need access to it immediately run origen new with the --fetch option to force it.

There now follows a more detailed guide on how to create the generator itself.

Notes on Creating Generators

The application generators use a code generator API from Origen core which itself leans heavily on a 3rd party gem library called Thor. This gem is used quite widely in the Ruby community for this kind of thing, not least by the code generators provided by the Ruby on Rails web application platform.

The code generator API allows the user to do things like:

  • Run code to collect user input
  • Compile templates to produce dynamic output based on the user's responses
  • Copy files verbatim
  • Create directories and symlinks
  • Delete and inject lines into existing files

Each application type that can be generated by this plugin is an example of a code generator.

The new application generators are organized into the following hierarchy:

   -> MyAppGenerators::Application (Mixes in MyAppGenerators::Base)
   -> OrigenAppGenerators::Plugin
        -> MyAppGenerators::Plugin (Mixes in MyAppGenerators::Base)

All generators must be a subclass of either OrigenAppGenerators::Application or OrigenAppGenerators::Plugin depending on whether the end application is intended to be a plugin or not.

The new application generators should all perform the following functions:

  • Prompt the user with some questions to get the new application name and so on
  • Create the new application files by either copying or compiling source files and creating symlinks or directories as required
  • Make any final modifications to the resulting files
  • Display any information that the user should know about their new application

Generator Execution

When a generator is executed any methods defined in it will be called in the order that they are defined. Any methods that are marked as protected will not be called.

For example when the following generator is executed:

module MyAppGenerators
  class MyGenerator < Application
    def say_hello
      puts "Hello" 

    def call_a_helper
      puts "About to call"
      puts "Returned from call"


    def a_helper_method
      puts "Helper method called!"

    def this_does_nothing
      puts "Another method called!"

Then you would see this:

About to call
Helper method called!
Returned from call

Note that any methods defined by the parent classes will get called first. The parent OrigenAppGenerators::Application and OrigenAppGenerators::Plugin classes implement methods to get the user input that will be common to all applications.

You can disable this behavior if required by re-defining the relevant methods within the child generator class.

Source Files

All template or static source files for the generators live in templates/app_generators and from there in sub folders based on the name of the particular generator.

All path references to source files made in your generator should be relative to its source file folder, and in practice what this means is that if you want to refer to the source file of what will become Origen.root/config/application.rb then you just refer to config/application.rb.

When looking for a particular source file the generator will search in the various source directories belonging to your generator's parent classes. For example let's say you make a test engineering generator that has the following class hierarchy:

   -> OrigenAppGenerators::Plugin
         -> MyAppGenerators::Plugin (Mixes in MyAppGenerators::Base)
               -> TestEngineering::TestBlock

Then the following source paths will be searched in this order:


This means that if you create a file called config/application.rb within <my_app_generators>/templates/app_generators/test_engineering/test_block then this will override the corresponding file from origen_app_generators.

However see the warning in The Filelist section below before doing this!

Lean Environment

When the generator is run by a user to generate a new application, it will not run within the scope of an Origen application. This means that any references to within the generator code are meaningless and will result in an error.

Furthermore, because there is no application there is also no associated gem bundle, so the generator must be able to run within the lean Ruby environment that is used to boot Origen. In practice what this means is that you can use any gems that Origen itself relies on (these will be installed in the base Ruby installation), but you cannot use any others.

The origen app_gen:test command that is provided for testing the generators will run them within the lean environment, so if it works there you can be confident that it will also run in production.

The Filelist

Each generator should return the list of files to be created in the new application via its filelist method. If you don't make any changes to this then it will simply inherit the list of files defined by the generator's parent class.

The filelist is also used to define any directories or symlinks that should be created. The generator class created by the origen app_gen:new command contains a commented example of how to add or remove the various elements from the filelist.

Some application generators may not make any changes to the filelist and will simply augment the basic application/plugin shell by adding additional code to some of the existing files.

This can be done by either overriding the source file by defining it in the generator's own source directory, or by post-modifying the files after the filelist has been rendered as described further down.

Warning! While it is tempting (and easier) to simply copy a source file and then edit it as required for your target application, this will make your generator harder to maintain as it will not automatically pick up changes and improvements to the master templates that will occur over time. Therefore it is always preferable to post-modify the file to delete sections or to modify or add additional code whenever possible.

Note that developers should not add logic to the application/plugin master source files to implement generator specific output. This approach is not scalable as in the future this plugin is expected to support many different application types.

Instead, individual generators must either completely override or post-modify the master files as appropriate.


All files in the file list will be compiled unless explicitly marked with copy: true or if the destination file name ends in .erb.

ERB markup can be used the same way as in regular Origen templates with the following exceptions:

Whole line Ruby is not enabled (a limitation imposed by Thor), therefore instead of this:

% if x_is_true
Include something
% end

You must do:

<% if x_is_true -%>
Include something
<% end -%>

Access to variables collected by your generator at runtime is done by assigning them to instance variables (instead of the options hash used by the Origen compiler).

So for example if you have your user input a product name, then you should assign that to an instance variable:

@product_name = get_product_name

Then in the template:

The product name is <%= @product_name %>

By convention, templates in this plugin do not end in .erb and this is reserved for files that would become .erb files in the end application.

Post Generation Modifications

It is better to customize any files that are common to all applications by post modification rather than by completely overriding the entire file.

To do this you have access to the Thor Action methods described here: Thor Action API

You can see some examples of these being used in the enable method in lib/app_generators/new.rb where they are used to add the new generator details to lib/origen_app_generators.rb.

As a quick example say you wanted to add a method to config/application.rb, this could be achieved by injecting it at the end of the class like this:

# Always ensure the filelist has been rendered first
def generate_files

# Add a custom domain method to config/application.rb
def add_method_to_application
  # Define a regular expression to define a point in the file where you want to inject, in this
  # case the 'end' of the class definition (the only 'end' that occurs at the beginning of a line)
  end_of_class = /^end/
  # Define the code snippet
  code = <<-END
  def some_domain_specific_method
  # Now inject it
  inject_into_file "config/application.rb", code, before: end_of_class


New Origen application generators/templates, used by the 'origen new' command




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