Ruby on Rails is a framework that also supports development of plug-ins. The ability to build plug-ins is a great feature in Rails since this will enable developers to build additional tools that could be integrated in the application.
Plug-ins could be used for better user experience, security and optimization of functions. Even if the application has already been developed, a plug-in could be easily integrated in the application to improve some of its functions without affecting the application. Before the application is built, developers could also use some plug-ins so that they will not have to do extra work.
There are 3rd party plug-ins that developers could integrate to their application but it is highly recommended to work with plug-ins which are built using the Rails package for building plug-ins. Because of sheer compatibility, it is recommended that Rails should work with Rails plug-ins.
Security and effect on the coding is not assured from 3rd party plug-ins. Besides, the strong community support for Rails also assures developers of a good number of plug-ins for any need. Some say that the free plug-ins might not have enough support. However, any problems with the plug-ins could be addressed by the open source community.
One of the best features for plug-ins in Rails is the presence of generators. In gist, generators will help developers quickly build plug-ins for rails as the tool will help build codes. The developers just have to set the folders where the specific plug-in will be launched and the generators will take over.
But generators are not mind readers wherein it will just let out a plug-in according to your need. You still need to “build” a generator. This is actually the tricky part since you need to manually build the generator. But compared to developing an application, this is easier since it can still use scaffolding techniques in building an application.
Security of Plug-ins
A hotly contested debate among developers on the validity of plug-ins is security. There are those that may not be at ease with plug-ins since it might open up a lot of security holes especially when the plug-in is not personally developed.
But security is actually the responsibility of the user. When a plug-in is integrated, the developer has to make sure that the plug-in came from a trusted source (preferably reviewed and recommended in reputed sites) and it has to be updated when the application experiences any changes.
The key to a successful integration of a plug-in to Rails is the proper migration technique. Take note that migration in plug-ins is entirely different compared to migration from database to application with ActiveRecord.
Migration in plug-ins will require developers to specify what type of data the plug-in needs by setting the class name. Naturally, the command should be “add” to acquire the data from the application or the specified source. The only thing migration for plug-ins is the same compared to regular migration is the required preparation of the plug-ins and the rake command for migration. Developers still need to prepare the table where the data will be transferred.
There are two stages in testing plug-ins. The first stage is when developers test the data and corresponding functions for your plug-in. This is a little bit easy since Rails is also building a testing code in relation to your plug-in while it is being developed. There are also a good number of plug-ins from other Rails developers that will help you check the validity of your data.
The second stage is testing generators. This type of testing will require developers to add a directory as a target for the generator. Assertions are required and should even be configured to moving forward with the application and going backward to test its compatibility.
Pushing the Boundaries
A great feature for Plug-in for Rails is that developers do not have to be constricted with the generators. They can customize the functions and sources or even customize their generators so that it could provide their desired function.
But pushing the plug-ins into complicated functions could easily jeopardize the application especially if the plug-in would seem to overpower the application in terms of processing. The capability of the plug-in should match the application or lesser in terms of complexity to ensure the application will be optimized with the addition of plug-ins.