Plugin Development

Ruben de Laat edited this page Oct 14, 2015 · 9 revisions
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The BIMserver project has a strong focus on interaction with other systems, that's what the (Service Interfaces)[Service Interfaces] are for (accessible via SOAP, Protocol Buffers or JSON). However, some logic will only work (efficiently) when running within the BIMserver, that's where plugins come into play.

Types of plugins

All plugins implement the Plugin interface:

public interface Plugin {
    void init(PluginManager pluginManager) throws PluginException; // Initialization code, if your plugin requires other plugins, this is the time to check for them, be sure to throw a PluginException when something is wrong
    String getName(); // A short name of this plugin
    String getDescription(); // A short description of this plugin
    String getVersion(); // A version, not used for dependencies (yet)
    boolean isInitialized(); // Should return whether this plugin is successfully initialized

Do not implement the Plugin class directly, there are sub-interfaces for the different purposes plugins can have.

Types of plugins

Name Functionality
Serializer Create a serialized version of a model (can be text or binary)
Deserializer Parse a serialized version of a model and store it in the database
Render Engine Triangulates IFC geometry
Query Engine Provides a way of querying a model
Schema Provides the BIMserver with metadata about the models
Object IDM Provides the BIMserver with a way of traversing objects
Model Merge Merge multiple models into one model
Model Compare Compare 2 models
Service Services can be triggered by certain events

So how to develop a plugin

This tutorial assumes you use eclipse, but other IDEs should also work

The easiest way to learn is to look how other people have done things, there are quite a few plugins already, so have a look at them.

  • Create a new java project for your plugin, for example "PluginTest" new project
  • Create your plugin class, this class must implement the plugin interface you want to write a plugin for, make sure you implement all methods correctly. For this example we will create a serializer and we will name the plugin "TestSerializerPlugin" in the package "test".
  • Create a plugin folder under your project
  • Create a plugin.xml file under the plugin folder, the content should like like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

Now to test your plugin locally you will have to tell the BIMserver where your plugin can be found. Edit "" and look for the lines with loadPluginFromEclipseProject. Add

pluginManager.loadPluginsFromEclipseProject(new File("../PluginTest"));

Now you can start the BIMserver and your plugin should be available as yet another way to serialize models.


To make your plugin available on deployed BIMservers (either WAR or JAR), you have to create a JAR file of your plugin. It should contain the compiled code, your plugin folder (+plugin.xml), and any required JAR files. The place of jar files doesn't matter, as long as they have the extension ".jar".


BIMserver is an open framework that uses Plugins. Derivatives of code inherit the Affero GPL code. Plugins build from scratch can also be licensed under the GPL license (and used as plugin in BIMserver). This does not go for snippets, GUIs and some separate (or remote) running services where BIMserver is a client to that service. Again: when in doubt, feel free to contact us. More details and examples on