The Be Informed platform comes with tens of optional (add-on) plugins that are usually added as seen fit by the project implementing the business application. There are also cases where custom plugins are made specifically for a project and also need to be added. In both situations the addition is simple and straight forward. Thanks to using the OSGI framework underneath Be Informed, dropping the new plugin into the folder called “plugins” in either the Studio or the server folder will do the job. That folder holds all (including mandatory) plugins and contains many plugins, by the way, and not only the optional ones. This ease is so tempting that I know of no project using Be Informed that is doing it in any other way.

You might ask yourself: it works so why bother doing it differently? Well, yes it does work but up until you want to upgrade to a newer (sub)version of Be Informed. The fact that so many plugins are in the same folder (mandatory and optional) makes it hard to see at a glance which optionals were added. Ask any project how they deal with upgrading and you’ll find that people either keep separate lists of used plugins or spend far more time than they want during the upgrade to get this right.

A solution to avoid the lists and the extra time is not that hard. If only we could keep the optional plugins in their own folder and away from the rest. The good news is: It is also possible. Be Informed version 3.x uses Eclipse 3.2 run time and such it is possible to isolate the optional plugins following these steps:

  • Create a folder that you want to put the optional plugins in. On a PC running Windows this could be something as D:\ExtraBIPlugins\eclipse\plugins. Note that the folder has to end with eclipse\plugins.
  • In the Be Informed Studio installation folder create a folder with the name links.
  • Create a file with the name extra.links (on Be Informed 3.9.X and earlier the name should be extra.link) and edit it to have this line:                             Path= D:\ExtraBIPlugins
  • That is. Starting Be informed Studio all the plugins put in D:\ExtraBIPlugins\eclipse\plugins will now be seen.

Note that other methods that would work for newer versions of Eclipse will not work here. The path can be shared between more Studio instances by adding the link folder to a new instance so you can use this to share the same plugins between more Be Informed installations.

Keeping track of Be Informed optional plugins