Kibana Plugin APIedit

This functionality is experimental and may be changed or removed completely in a future release. Elastic will take a best effort approach to fix any issues, but experimental features are not subject to the support SLA of official GA features.

Kibana platform plugins are a significant step toward stabilizing Kibana architecture for all the developers. We made sure plugins could continue to use most of the same technologies they use today, at least from a technical perspective.

Anatomy of a pluginedit

Plugins are defined as classes and present themselves to Kibana through a simple wrapper function. A plugin can have browser-side code, server-side code, or both. There is no architectural difference between a plugin in the browser and a plugin on the server. In both places, you describe your plugin similarly, and you interact with Core and other plugins in the same way.

The basic file structure of a Kibana plugin named demo that has both client-side and server-side code would be:

plugins/
  demo
    kibana.json [1]
    public
      index.ts  [2]
      plugin.ts [3]
    server
      index.ts  [4]
      plugin.ts [5]

[1] kibana.json is a static manifest file that is used to identify the plugin and to specify if this plugin has server-side code, browser-side code, or both:

{
  "id": "demo",
  "version": "kibana",
  "server": true,
  "ui": true
}

Learn about the manifest file format.

package.json files are irrelevant to and ignored by Kibana for discovering and loading plugins.

[2] public/index.ts is the entry point into the client-side code of this plugin. It must export a function named plugin, which will receive a standard set of core capabilities as an argument. It should return an instance of its plugin class for Kibana to load.

import type { PluginInitializerContext } from 'kibana/server';
import { MyPlugin } from './plugin';

export function plugin(initializerContext: PluginInitializerContext) {
  return new MyPlugin(initializerContext);
}

[3] public/plugin.ts is the client-side plugin definition itself. Technically speaking, it does not need to be a class or even a separate file from the entry point, but all plugins at Elastic should be consistent in this way. See all conventions for first-party Elastic plugins.

import type { Plugin, PluginInitializerContext, CoreSetup, CoreStart } from 'kibana/server';

export class MyPlugin implements Plugin {
  constructor(initializerContext: PluginInitializerContext) {}

  public setup(core: CoreSetup) {
    // called when plugin is setting up during Kibana's startup sequence
  }

  public start(core: CoreStart) {
    // called after all plugins are set up
  }

  public stop() {
    // called when plugin is torn down during Kibana's shutdown sequence
  }
}

[4] server/index.ts is the entry-point into the server-side code of this plugin. It is identical in almost every way to the client-side entry-point:

import type { PluginInitializerContext } from 'kibana/server';
import { MyPlugin } from './plugin';

export function plugin(initializerContext: PluginInitializerContext) {
  return new MyPlugin(initializerContext);
}

[5] server/plugin.ts is the server-side plugin definition. The shape of this plugin is the same as it’s client-side counter-part:

import type { Plugin, PluginInitializerContext, CoreSetup, CoreStart } from 'kibana/server';

export class MyPlugin implements Plugin {
  constructor(initializerContext: PluginInitializerContext) {}

  public setup(core: CoreSetup) {
    // called when plugin is setting up during Kibana's startup sequence
  }

  public start(core: CoreStart) {
    // called after all plugins are set up
  }

  public stop() {
    // called when plugin is torn down during Kibana's shutdown sequence
  }
}

Kibana does not impose any technical restrictions on how the the internals of a plugin are architected, though there are certain considerations related to how plugins integrate with core APIs and APIs exposed by other plugins that may greatly impact how they are built.

Lifecycles & Core Servicesedit

The various independent domains that makeup core are represented by a series of services and many of those services expose public interfaces that are provided to all plugins. Services expose different features at different parts of their lifecycle. We describe the lifecycle of core services and plugins with specifically-named functions on the service definition.

Kibana has three lifecycles: setup, start, and stop. Each plugin’s setup functions is called sequentially while Kibana is setting up on the server or when it is being loaded in the browser. The start functions are called sequentially after setup has been completed for all plugins. The stop functions are called sequentially while Kibana is gracefully shutting down the server or when the browser tab or window is being closed.

The table below explains how each lifecycle relates to the state of Kibana.

lifecycle purpose server browser

setup

perform "registration" work to setup environment for runtime

configure REST API endpoint, register saved object types, etc.

configure application routes in SPA, register custom UI elements in extension points, etc.

start

bootstrap runtime logic

respond to an incoming request, request Elasticsearch server, etc.

start polling Kibana server, update DOM tree in response to user interactions, etc.

stop

cleanup runtime

dispose of active handles before the server shutdown.

store session data in the LocalStorage when the user navigates away from Kibana, etc.

There is no equivalent behavior to start or stop in legacy plugins. Conversely, there is no equivalent to uiExports in Kibana Platform plugins. As a general rule of thumb, features that were registered via uiExports are now registered during the setup phase. Most of everything else should move to the start phase.

The lifecycle-specific contracts exposed by core services are always passed as the first argument to the equivalent lifecycle function in a plugin. For example, the core http service exposes a function createRouter to all plugin setup functions. To use this function to register an HTTP route handler, a plugin just accesses it off of the first argument:

import type { CoreSetup } from 'kibana/server';

export class MyPlugin {
  public setup(core: CoreSetup) {
    const router = core.http.createRouter();
    // handler is called when '/path' resource is requested with `GET` method
    router.get({ path: '/path', validate: false }, (context, req, res) => res.ok({ content: 'ok' }));
  }
}

Different service interfaces can and will be passed to setup, start, and stop because certain functionality makes sense in the context of a running plugin while other types of functionality may have restrictions or may only make sense in the context of a plugin that is stopping.

For example, the stop function in the browser gets invoked as part of the window.onbeforeunload event, which means you can’t necessarily execute asynchronous code here reliably. For that reason, core likely wouldn’t provide any asynchronous functions to plugin stop functions in the browser.

The current lifecycle function for all plugins will be executed before the next lifecycle starts. That is to say that all setup functions are executed before any start functions are executed.

These are the contracts exposed by the core services for each lifecycle:

lifecycle server contract browser contract

contructor

PluginInitializerContext

PluginInitializerContext

setup

CoreSetup

CoreSetup

start

CoreStart

CoreStart

Integrating with other pluginsedit

Plugins can expose public interfaces for other plugins to consume. Like core, those interfaces are bound to the lifecycle functions setup and/or start.

Anything returned from setup or start will act as the interface, and while not a technical requirement, all first-party Elastic plugins will expose types for that interface as well. Third party plugins wishing to allow other plugins to integrate with it are also highly encouraged to expose types for their plugin interfaces.

foobar plugin.ts:

import type { Plugin } from 'kibana/server';
export interface FoobarPluginSetup { 
  getFoo(): string;
}

export interface FoobarPluginStart { 
  getBar(): string;
}

export class MyPlugin implements Plugin<FoobarPluginSetup, FoobarPluginStart> {
  public setup(): FoobarPluginSetup {
    return {
      getFoo() {
        return 'foo';
      },
    };
  }

  public start(): FoobarPluginStart {
    return {
      getBar() {
        return 'bar';
      },
    };
  }
}

We highly encourage plugin authors to explicitly declare public interfaces for their plugins.

Unlike core, capabilities exposed by plugins are not automatically injected into all plugins. Instead, if a plugin wishes to use the public interface provided by another plugin, it must first declare that plugin as a dependency in it’s kibana.json manifest file.

demo kibana.json:

{
  "id": "demo",
  "requiredPlugins": ["foobar"],
  "server": true,
  "ui": true
}

With that specified in the plugin manifest, the appropriate interfaces are then available via the second argument of setup and/or start:

demo plugin.ts:

import type { CoreSetup, CoreStart } from 'kibana/server';
import type { FoobarPluginSetup, FoobarPluginStart } from '../../foobar/server';

interface DemoSetupPlugins { 
  foobar: FoobarPluginSetup;
}

interface DemoStartPlugins {
  foobar: FoobarPluginStart;
}

export class AnotherPlugin {
  public setup(core: CoreSetup, plugins: DemoSetupPlugins) { 
    const { foobar } = plugins;
    foobar.getFoo(); // 'foo'
    foobar.getBar(); // throws because getBar does not exist
  }

  public start(core: CoreStart, plugins: DemoStartPlugins) { 
    const { foobar } = plugins;
    foobar.getFoo(); // throws because getFoo does not exist
    foobar.getBar(); // 'bar'
  }

  public stop() {}
}

The interface for plugin’s dependencies must be manually composed. You can do this by importing the appropriate type from the plugin and constructing an interface where the property name is the plugin’s ID.

These manually constructed types should then be used to specify the type of the second argument to the plugin.

Notice that the type for the setup and start lifecycles are different. Plugin lifecycle functions can only access the APIs that are exposed during that lifecycle.

Migrating legacy pluginsedit

In Kibana 7.10, support for legacy plugins was removed. See Migrating legacy plugins to the Kibana Platform for detailed information on how to convert existing legacy plugins to this new API.