Now that we've added support for plugins to Clearspace and the next version of Jive Forums, it's hard to believe it took us so long to add such a useful and powerful feature. The basic idea behind plugins is to dynamically extend the functionality of the application without having to modify the core source code. For example, our professional services team will use plugins to build custom functionality for clients that is easily portable between different product releases. Plugins will also be used to deliver features that are only useful to a portion of our customers, like Salesforce integration.

 

Plugins have been very successful in Wildfire and our friends from Atlassian has tons of cool plugins in their products. We borrowed a lot of ideas from Wildfire plugins (see the developer guide) in order to create the system in Clearspace and Jive Forums. Of course there are some unique twists as well. For example, if you install a plugin on one node of a Clearspace cluster, the plugin will get automatically pushed to all the other nodes. Developers will also appreciate the fact that plugins can easily override any page or action in the application, which makes some very deep customizations quite easy. Plugins are installed and managed from the admin console:

 

[developer guide|http://jivesoftware.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/pluginadmin.png|pluginadmin.png]

 

For the launch of Clearspace, we wanted a plugin that would be a great example of what the framework allows. So, we created the WebDAV plugin. WebDAV is a useful protocol for publishing and accessing documents. For example, you can access content through WebDAV using Windows  Explorer or OS X (just like a shared drive):

 

[WebDAV|http://jivesoftware.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/clearspace-web-view.png|clearspace-web-view.png] [WebDAV|http://jivesoftware.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/clearspace-webdav-view.png|clearspace-webdav-view.png]

 

For now, the WebDAVplugin provides read-only access to the latest version of documents. In a future version, we'll add write support as well. I'm really looking forward to all the interesting plugins that our engineering team and community members put together!