Built-in plugins: Should it be possible to switch to a non-built-in version?

Built-in plugins: Should it be possible to switch to a non-built-in version?

The latest development version of Joplin bundles @JackGruber's Simple Backup plugin.

Should it be possible to switch from a built-in version of a default plugin to a non-built-in version? If so, what should the UI for this look like?

How do updates to built-in plugins currently work?

For now, built-in plugins are bundled with Joplin and loaded from the app bundle. This means that

  1. Built-in plugins can't be updated or deleted by the user (no "upgrade" button in settings).
  2. Upgrading Joplin also upgrades built-in plugins.

Built-in plugins are built from a specific commit during Joplin's build process so that

  1. The Joplin team can review the code for the built-in plugin
  2. The Joplin team can ensure that if the maintainer of a built-in plugin's account is compromised, updating a plugin on NPM won't suggest that Joplin users update the plugin.
Summary of the current build process

Currently, when building Joplin, we

  1. checkout a specific commit from the plugin's GitHub repository
  2. Apply a patch.
    • In the case of Simple Backup, this patch causes the plugin to use a version of 7Zip bundled with Joplin, rather than a version included in the jpl file — this should fix the issue mentioned here.
  3. Include the plugin with the application (with electron-builder's extraResources option)

As a result, a built-in plugin looks like this in the settings screen:

screenshot: Simple Backup. Has: disable slider, built-in marker

How does Joplin handle user-installed versions of built-in plugins?

Many users already have a version of Simple Backup installed. When this is the case, the user-installed version of Simple Backup is loaded.

Update behavior acts like it did in previous versions of Joplin: The plugin can be updated from Joplin's plugin repository from settings.

Deletion is a bit different: Deleting the user-installed version leaves the built-in version of the plugin enabled and installed.

Current implementation: Switching to a non-built-in version of the plugin

To switch to a non-built-in version of the plugin, a user can currently:

  • Use the "Install from file" option:
    • Screenshot: install from file option
  • Load the plugin as a development plugin

At present, this can't be done through the plugin search screen. Built-in plugins are marked as "installed" and can't be upgraded:

screenshot: Simple Backup is marked as "installed"


Should we allow switching to a non-built-in version of the plugin from "Settings > Plugins" (aside from loading a development version of a plugin)? If so, what should this UI look like?

Related notes

Screenshots from an implementation that allows switching to a non-built-in version from search:

screenshot: Search for simple backup shows "replace built-in"
screenshot: Warning about replacing a built-in plugin



What use cases would require this feature?

Users whose alternative Joplin distribution lags behind latest may want the latest version of a plugin for desired features or fixes.

1 Like


I think the proposed UI is good. It allows for easy updating of a user's favorite built-in plugins, while providing a warning.