Frontend Plugin Development

Overview of Frontend plugins

Frontend plugins provide a way to change the behavior of Deck, Spinnaker’s UI service. You can add configuration and validation for new stages provided by Orca plugins, override existing components with your own implementation, or add new Kubernetes kind definitions for custom resources in your environment. Spinnaker loads plugins at runtime through Gate.

You can write plugins in any JavaScript-compatible language, but the development tooling is designed for JavaScript and TypeScript.

The following are examples of Deck features that you can override:

The following projects demonstrate adding new stages to Spinnaker:

Before you begin

Make sure you have the following tools installed:

You also need access to a Spinnaker instance >= 1.20.6 running in a Kubernetes cluster.

This guide focuses on a frontend plugin, but if you need help configuring a backend plugin, see the Plugin Project Configuration and Backend Extension Points guides.

Plugin scaffolding

You can write a Frontend plugin as standalone or as part of a broader set of functionality. In both cases, you need the Gradle toolchain to build and release your plugin. The Deck project has the @spinnaker/pluginsdk NPM package that you can use to generate your new frontend plugin’s project structure and configuration files.

Create the plugin project structure

For a new plugin, create a top-level directory:

mkdir my-plugin

Then, from the root of the my-plugin directory, run the @spinnaker/pluginsdk scaffold script to create your frontend plugin:

npx -p @spinnaker/pluginsdk scaffold

The script asks a few questions about your plugin. Enter the requested information and wait for the command to complete:

npx: installed 117 in 6.229s
Enter the short name for your plugin (default: myplugin): my-plugin
Directory to scaffold into (default: my-plugin-deck):
Deck plugin scaffolded into my-plugin-deck
Installing dependencies using 'yarn' and 'npx check-peer-dependencies --install' ...

The script creates the following project structure:

├──  my-plugin-deck
    ├── .eslintrc.js
    ├── .prettierrc.js
    ├── package.json  
    ├── my-plugin-deck.gradle  
    ├── tsconfig.json  
    ├── rollup.config.js  
    ├── yarn.lock  
    ├── node_modules  
    └── src  
        ├── index.ts  
        ├── WidgetizeStage.less  
        └── WidgetizeStage.tsx  

You may see this scaffold command fail to resolve dependencies initially. If this is the case, you can run the check-peerdependencies and check-plugin commands from the my-plugin-deck directory until these errors are resolved.

cd my-plugin-deck
npx check-peer-dependencies --install
npx check-plugin --fix

You should now be able to successfully build the plugin:

yarn && yarn build

Gradle Configuration

In order to build and release your plugin, you need to ensure that you have your Gradle environment configured correctly. Follow the advice in the Plugin Project Configuration document up to the UI-extension build.gradle section.

The development tooling uses this top-level Gradle file to create a simple plugin metadata file. See the Build and release section to learn how to configure the rest of this file to create release distributions and proper plugin manifest metadata.

Development workflow

The plugin resources created by the scaffold command include functionality to run your plugin locally, provided that you can connect to an external Spinnaker instance. The most common way to do this is to port-forward your running Deck instance to your local machine using kubectl.

kubectl port-forward service/spin-deck 90001:9000

This forwards Deck to your local machine on port 9001. Then you can run your plugin locally on port 9000 using yarn develop.

DEV_PROXY_HOST=http://localhost:9001 yarn develop

You should now be able to navigate to http://localhost:9000 and access the Deck UI. Create a new pipeline and search for the Widgetize stage to verify that Spinnaker loaded the frontend plugin correctly.

You can also verify your plugin loaded correctly by navigating to http://localhost:9000/plugin-manifest.json. You should see at least two plugins listed, the one with your pluginId as well as a plugindev.livereload plugin. The development tooling uses plugindev.livereload to reload Deck on each code change in your plugin directory.

Fix CORS errors when using a remote deck instance

During development, you may run into CORS-related errors if your Deck service runs on an address other than localhost. If you can, consider modifying your Gate instance to allow for CORS requests during development.

Add new stages

The plugin SDK enables the addition of new stages and kinds within Spinnaker. These additions are often accompanied by changes to Orca and related services. If you haven’t started work on these backend components, see the Backend Extension Points guide.

The scaffold command creates the most up-to-date schema example, which you should use as your template when you develop your plugin. If you are writing a plugin that targets an older version of Spinnaker, you may need to refer to existing stages for the Spinnaker release to ensure you’re following the correct schema.

In general, a Deck stage has these elements:

  • A StageConfig React component.
    • This component wraps FormikStageComponent and refers to the React StageForm component.
  • A StageForm React component.
    • This component provides a set of FormikFormField components that encapsulate the configuration options for your stage.
  • A (optional) validate function.
    • The validate function validates a stage configuration. When added to a stage object, validate is called whenever input changes in the config form.
  • A Stage object that encapsulates the previous components.
    • This object is passed to the plugin config object and registered when Deck starts.

You can define more than one stage per plugin. When you’re ready to register your plugin and test in Deck, add all your stages to the stage field in your plugin index.ts file like so:

import { IDeckPlugin } from '@spinnaker/core';
import { widgetizeStage } from './WidgetizeStage';

export const plugin: IDeckPlugin = {
  stages: [widgetizeStage],

Override existing components

You can also override existing components within Deck, so long as they have an Overridable annotation or are registered as an overridable component. In this use case, you define your replacement component and then leverage the initialize method of your plugin object to override the component when it is loaded.

For example, if you want to remove the ability to modify Application configuration in Deck, you define a component like this:

import React from 'react';

export const InvisibleConfig = () => {
  return <h1>No config here!</h1>;

In order to override the component, you need to know the Application configuration registration key. You can find its definition in the GitHub Deck project, ApplicationConfig.tsx. There, you find the Overridable annotation is applicationConfigView. Then, in your index.ts file where you define your plugin object, you override that component in the initialize method. For example:

import { IDeckPlugin, overrideRegistrationQueue } from '@spinnaker/core';
import { InvisibleConfig } from './InvisibleConfig';

export const plugin: IDeckPlugin = {
  initialize: () => {
    overrideRegistrationQueue.register(InvisibleConfig, 'applicationConfigView')

Once installed, you see the Application configuration page now displays the h1 header.

Build and release

Building and releasing requires adding a distribution repository, building and committing changes for the plugin, and hosting the plugin.

Create plugin packages

Creating a plugin distribution starts from the root of your plugin project. The releaseBundle task is responsible for creating zip distributions of all plugin code and storing it in the build/distributions directory. Run the releaseBundle task to get started:

./gradlew releaseBundle

If you find the zip archive doesn’t contain all your plugin code, make sure that you’ve included each plugin sub-directory in the parent build. You can do that by editing the settings.gradle file and ensuring that each project is included. For example:

// file: my-plugin/settings.gradle

// other configuration ...

include "my-plugin-deck"

// other configuration ...

Create distribution files

Spinnaker needs a repositories.json file and a plugins.json file to install a plugin. repositories.json represents a set of pointers to plugin files, and plugins.json lists all versions of a particular plugin. See the Plugin Users Guide for more information.

The format of the repositories.json file looks like this:

      "id": "myPluginRepo",
      "url": ""

The id key uniquely identifies your plugin repository. The url points to where your keep your plugins.json file. This URL can be any URI so long as Spinnaker can reach it.

The releaseBundle command that generates the plugin packages also generates required metadata. You can find this metadata in the build/distributions/plugin-info.json file. You must provide the value for the url key. The value is the location of your plugin zip file. You can store the file in any location that Spinnaker can access.

Here is an example plugins.json file’s contents:

    "id": "My.Plugin.Id",
    "description": "This a sample plugin.",
    "provider": "",
    "releases": [
        "version": "0.1.0",
        "date": "2021-03-09T17:30:00.948341Z",
        "requires": "deck>=0.0.0",
        "sha512sum": "a91cb7d412a25ca5e1b2d72e14ab499986d5773ae8016721fbefd0adf430e33b75e8e61bac92244bbbe4811f118724ec6e2bb568fdd8181a9e11327a96b45da9",
        "url": ""

You can store the repositories.json and plugins.json in any location that Spinnaker can reach. Most developers store these files in a repository separate from the plugin code.

Create an installation README for your users

In addition to explaining what your plugin does, you should include a YAML snippet showing your plugin’s configuration. For example:

          # The plugin id you defined in your build.gradle
            enabled: true
            # This must be a SemVer-compatible string
            # (i.e. do not include a `v` in front of the version string)
            version: "0.1.0"
        # This snippet is necessary so that Gate can serve your plugin code to Deck
          enabled: true
              enabled: true
            enabled: true

Next steps

Note: If you use the open source Spinnaker Operator to install and manage Spinnaker, see that product’s documentation for how to deploy a plugin.