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What is Plugin?

A plugin is a software add-on that is installed onto a program, enabling it to perform additional features. For example, Internet browsers allow users to install plug-ins into the browser to give that browser features not found in the default installation.

Depending on the plug-in that is required on a website depends on from where the plug-in is going to be downloaded. Adobe Flash and Sun Java are both examples of plug-ins and are each downloaded from their own websites. Often a website that requires a plug-in has a link to the appropriate plug-in site that contains the download for the plug-in.

Source : ComputerHope

Benefits of Plugin

  • extensibility: the application can be dynamically extended to include new features.
  • parallel development: since features can be implemented as separate components, they can be developed in parallel by different teams.
  • clear development direction: since the plug-in framework ideally provides a well-defined interface and documentation for plu-gin writers, developers have a clear roadmap for development.
  • simplicity: a plugin typically has one function, and so developers have a single focus

Weakness

  • extensibility: does the plug-in interface anticipate the ways plug-in writers what to extend the app, or does it restrict extension. Designing extensibility to meet all use cases often takes several iterations, or extremely good requirements analysis.
  • maintainability: the provider of the plug-in framework not only has to make sure the plug-in interface satisfies indented use cases, is clear and well documented, but also that it can evolve. Managing versions and backwards compatibility with existing plug-ins can be very hard. Hard enough that many practical implementations don’t bother, and push the onus on plug-in writers to update their plug-ins with each version.
  • complexity: although each plug-in works when tested alone, interactions between plugins can cause new problems, with bugs appearing only with certain combinations of plugins.
  • testing: testing plugins can be difficult if the plug-in system does not provide some form of mock plug-in runner for testing, which is sometimes not possible, and testing is only available by running the plugin for real, which slows down development.
  • artifical separation: a plugin typically has a single focus, but what constitues a single focus is set by the plug-in api provider. If a plugin writer finds he needs a plug-in that can reasonably do 2 things (as defined by the plug-in api) in close tandem, he may end up having to implement two plugins and find ways of providing communication between them that is not presently provided by the api. He’s then having to work around or against the plug-in framework.

Source : StackOverFlow

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