[MonoDevelop] Ideas for an addin manager

Lluis Sanchez lluis at ximian.com
Sun Jul 3 18:37:21 EDT 2005


One of the good things of MD addins is that in most of cases they can be
implemented in fully managed code, which means that the same binary can
be safely distributed to any platform that runs MD. I'm writing here
some ideas about how could we take advantage of this.

>From the user's point of view, I envision the following features:
      * A dialog shows a list of addins installed in MD.
      * The addins can be enabled / disabled.
      * When the user enables an addin, MD checks that the dependencies
        of that addin are installed in the system, and shows an error
        message if they are not.
      * Addins can be downloaded from internet. There is a list of
        addins which are available for download. The list is taken from
        a repository of addins. The user can register new repositories
        by just adding new urls.
      * Addins downloaded from internet can be easily updated when a new
        version is published.

Now some technical notes:
      * Enabling/disabling of addins would require restarting MD. Doing
        it on the fly would be really hard to implement with the current
      * We need a way of specifying the dependencies of an addin in a
        declarative way.
      * An addin may depend on other addins.
      * Because of the previous point, MD should take care of making
        sure that addins can find the addin assemblies they depend upon.
      * Some addins will have uncommon unmanaged dependencies, which
        will need to be installed by using whatever system it's Linux
        distribution is based on. This new addin management system would
        not be so useful in this case, but I think that there are many
        other cases in which it would be really useful.
      * If an addin only has managed dependencies (for example, the boo
        compiler), an option would be to package those dependencies
        together with the addin.
      * A repository of addins could be something as simple as an XML
        file with the list of addins (and its dependencies and versions)
        together with gziped assemblies.
      * There would be an "official" MD repository of addins, with the
        optional addins we are not currently shipping.

Any comment about this?

BTW, I don't think I'm going to implement this at short term, so if
people agree that something like this is needed and somebody has some
free time, feel free to take it, it shouldn't be too difficult to do,
and looks like fun ;-)


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