IntelliJ Platform SDK DevGuide

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Dynamic Plugins

Starting with 2020.1 release, the ability to install, update and uninstall plugins without restarting the IDE is available in the IntelliJ Platform. During plugin development, Auto-Reload also allows code changes to take effect immediately in the sandbox IDE instance.

Restrictions

For a plugin to support this, all restrictions listed below must be met. To verify a plugin locally, run Plugin DevKit | Plugin descriptor | Plugin.xml dynamic plugin verification inspection on all plugin descriptor files (required plugin.xml as well as any additional files).

For plugins hosted on the JetBrains Plugins Repository the built-in Plugin Verifier will run these checks automatically. See Plugin Verifier for more information on how to run it locally.

No Use of Components

No Components must be used; existing ones must be migrated to services, extensions or listeners.

Action Group Requires ID

All <group>s must declare a unique id.

Use Only Dynamic Extensions

All extensions, whether defined in the platform itself or coming from other plugins, must be marked as dynamic (see next paragraph).

Some deprecated extension points (e.g., com.intellij.configurationProducer) are intentionally non-dynamic, and their usage should be migrated to the corresponding replacement.

Mark Extension Points as Dynamic

All extension points provided by the plugin must adhere to specific usage rules and then be declared ready for dynamic use explicitly.

Configurables Depending on Extension Points

Any Configurable which depends on dynamic extension points must implement Configurable.WithEpDependencies.

No Use of Service Overrides

Application, project and module services declared with overrides="true" are not allowed.

Code

CachedValue

Loading/Unloading a plugin clears all cached values created using CachedValuesManager.

Do Not Store PSI

Do not store references to PSI elements in objects which can survive plugin loading or unloading, use SmartPsiElementPointer instead.

Plugin Load/Unload Events

Register com.intellij.ide.plugins.DynamicPluginListener application listener to receive updates on plugin load/unload events.

This can be used to e.g. cancel long-running activities or disallow unload due to ongoing processes.

Troubleshooting

When a plugin is being uninstalled or updated, the IDE waits synchronously for plugin unload and asks for restart if the unload failed.

Logging

All events are tracked under com.intellij.ide.plugins.DynamicPlugins category in IDE log file.

Diagnosing Leaks

To find leaks preventing clean unload, perform the following steps:

  • Set registry key ide.plugins.snapshot.on.unload.fail to true
  • Verify that IDE runs with VM parameter -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions
  • Open the .hprof snapshot generated on plugin unload, look for the plugin ID string
  • Find the PluginClassLoader referencing the plugin ID string
  • Look at references to the PluginClassLoader instance. Every one of them is a memory leak (or part of a memory leak) that needs to be resolved.
Last modified: 30 June 2020