Plugin Framework

Freeseer uses plugins so developers can easily extend the capabilities of Freeseer in a modular fashion.

Freeseer’s plugin framework is built on Yapsy, a minimal plugin system that only depends on Python’s standard library.

Plugin System Setup

Yapsy’s PluginManager class provides the core logic needed to find, load, and activate plugins. Freeseer has a PluginManager class that builds on top of that, and can be found in src/freeseer/framework/

Yapsy provides a PluginFileLocator class which locates plugins when they are accessible via the filesystem. [1] Plugins are described by a text file called the plugin info file which have a “.yapsy-plugin” extension by default. But Freeseer plugins use a customized extension, “.freeseer-plugin”.


introduce the code snippet so it’s not shown as a surprise

from yapsy.PluginManager import PluginManagerSingleton
from yapsy.ConfigurablePluginManager import ConfigurablePluginManager

class PluginManager(QtCore.QObject):
    """Freeseer's Plugin Manager provides plugin support."""

    def __init__(...):
      self.plugmanc = PluginManagerSingleton.get()
      locator = self.plugmanc.getPluginLocator()

Freeseer searches three different directory paths for plugins:

  1. User’s HOME directory (~/.freeseer/plugins/)
  2. Relative to the src directory (src/freeseer/plugins/)
  3. If you installed Freeseer, the Python installation packages (site-packages/freeseer/plugins/)

Yapsy’s IPlugin class defines the minimal interface needed for Yapsy plugins. We want Freeseer’s plugin classes to have a richer interface than what IPlugin provides, so we created the IBackendPlugin class in freeseer/framework/ which inherits from IPlugin and defines the minimal interface for all Freeseer plugin classes. All Freeseer plugins should descend from the IBackendPlugin class.

from yapsy.IPlugin import IPlugin

class IBackendPlugin(IPlugin):
    """Defines the interface for all Freeseer plugins."""
    CATEGORY = "Undefined"

class IAudioInput(IBackendPlugin):
    """A Freeseer plugin for Audio Input."""
    CATEGORY = "AudioInput"

Each class that is a descendant of the IPlugin class needs a CATEGORY attribute defined. When you are writing your own Freeseer plugin, you often don’t need to define a new category. You can extend one of the existing plugin classes and will not need to override the CATEGORY attribute.

If you are creating a new category, you will need to override the CATEGORY attribute and add the new category name and class name to the PluginManager’s category filter in the form of a key-value pair, where the key is the plugin’s category and the value is the plugin’s classname.

class PluginManager(QtCore.QObject):
        IAudioInput.CATEGORY: IAudioInput,
        IAudioMixer.CATEGORY: IAudioMixer,
        IVideoInput.CATEGORY: IVideoInput,
        IVideoMixer.CATEGORY: IVideoMixer,
        IImporter.CATEGORY:   IImporter,
        IOutput.CATEGORY:     IOutput})

Yapsy provides a number of useful decorators for its PluginManager which modify behaviour. Freeseer’s plugin system uses the ConfigurablePluginManager which allows Freeseer to save and load the active plugins and their settings to a configuration file.

from yapsy.ConfigurablePluginManager import ConfigurablePluginManager

class PluginManager(QtCore.QObject):

Many of the Freeseer plugins, such as the video and audio plugins, use the ConfigurablePluginManager to save the active plugins.

Creating a Plugin

The basic steps for creating a new plugin are:

  1. Write a plugin info file, plugin_name.freeseer-plugin, inside the appropriate directory within src/freeseer/plugins/. This file will hold metadata for the plugin and has the following format:

    Name = Plugin Name
    Module = plugin_module_or_directory
    Author = Your Name
    Version = Latest version of Freeseer that your plugin is compatible with
    Website =
    Description = Simple one-sentence plugin description
  2. Create the plugin Python file(s)

  • If you are creating a single-file plugin, create a Python module with the same name as your plugin info file:
  • If you are creating a multi-file plugin, your Python modules should be separated from your plugin info file:
  1. Create a plugin directory with the same name as your plugin info file (minus the extension).
  2. In the new plugin directory, create the file and write your plugin class inside it. Your class should extend one of the IBackendPlugin subclasses (e.g. IAudioInput). Don’t forget to override the class atribute name with your plugin’s name.
  3. Add other useful plugin code in other modules if necessary. For example, if your plugin requires a GUI, create a module called inside your plugin’s directory and import it inside your plugin’s module.

Accessing a Plugin

Any modules that need to access the plugins will need to import Freeseer’s PluginManager:

from freeseer.framework.plugin import PluginManager

There are a number of ways to access the plugins via the PluginManager. You can iterate over all of the plugins (or all of the plugins in a given category) or you can access a specific plugin by its name.

While Yapsy provides methods for accessing plugins (e.g. getAllPlugin(), getPluginsOfCategory(), and getPluginByName()), the recommended way to access the plugins is to use the accessor methods provided by Freeseer’s PluginManager:

get_plugin_by_name(name, category)

When you call any of the above accessor methods, you receive a PluginInfo object or a list of PluginInfo objects. Such an object contains meta information about the plugin. Each PluginInfo object has an attribute plugin_object which returns an instance of the plugin which you can then use.

For example:

plugman = PluginManager(config_dir)
plugin_info = plugman.get_plugin_by_name(name, category)
plugin = plugin_info.plugin_object

As another example, here’s a snippet of the Freeseer codebase where a class uses a plugin. It does so by creating an instance of the PluginManager and then calls the plugin by name, using the plugin_object attribute to access the plugin object:

from freeseer.framework.plugin import PluginManager

class QtDBConnector(object):

    def __init__(self, config_dir, ...):
        self.plugman = PluginManager(config_dir)


    def add_talks_from_rss(self, feed_url):
        """Adds talks from an RSS feed."""
        plugin = self.plugman.get_plugin_by_name("Rss FeedParser", "Importer")
        feedparser = plugin.plugin_object
        presentations = feedparser.get_presentations(feed_url)
        if presentations:
            for presentation in presentations:
                talk = Presentation(presentation["Title"],
                                    presentation["Abstract"],  # Description
  "RSS: No data found")


[1]The plugins are detected through Python, so all directories leading to plugins should have an file in them.