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Design Time Plugins

What are DesktopServer Design-Time Plugins?

The Design-Time, Runtime Paradigm

One of the major features introduced back in DesktopServer version 3.8 was support for global plugins. DesktopServer 3.8 promised to deliver new and innovative workflows to localhost development via “design-time” (vs “runtime” plugins). Simply put, these are plugins which are ONLY installed on your local system to make your development workflow easier. Design-time plugins offer a ton of useful functionality and features without any overhead to your live website because these plugins do not get shipped to the live site when you deploy

The concept of runtime vs design-time is not new and existed long ago in more traditional desktop development environments such as Visual Basic, C++,  Delphi, and Smalltalk.

The fact is that some WordPress plugins are just not meant for the web or simply too disruptive to be left in the hands of end users but yet they can greatly speed the development process. Leaving them present on live sites could pose a security risk, inhibit performance if activated, or just plain muck up the admin menus in an already long list of runtime plugins. Whether they are plugins to ease migration (i.e. WP Migrate DB) or to set up user roles and capabilities (i.e. Members & Roles plugin) to logging deprecated notices (i.e. Log Deprecated Notices Extender). These plugins are best left to experienced developers and not in the hands of end users.

To speed development, DesktopServer 3.8 introduced a new folder alongside the already popular blueprints folder, titled “ds-plugins”. These plugins are DesktopServer features you can turn on or off from the DesktopServer start option. Once activated in DesktopServer, a plugin can be immediately accessible in ALL of your development environments without the need for further installation or activation. Since they are not a part of your document root, you needn’t worry about ever accidentally deploying them or having to remember to deactivate them.

It should be noted that ds-plugins will not throw activation and deactivation events. Well behaved plugins should refrain from unnecessarily writing to the local development database and therefore not all WordPress plugins are suitable for the ds-plugins folder. Current WordPress plugins aren’t aware of the extended DesktopServer API either; but DesktopServer Premium does come shipped with some powerful plugins that already illustrate its useful capabilities.

At the time of this writing, DesktopServer v3.9.1 has been released and are proud to say that we now have a total of 13 plugins released with DesktopServer Premium with more right around the corner (some just days away). Our goal with our exclusive Design-Time architecture is to give you the control you need in order to create the development environment you want without needless overhead or complications. They’re powerful. They’re useful. They’re simple. So give it a shot and let us know what you think!