The new emerging NLE for GNU/Linux

Lumiera will use a very simple and language neutral plugin system. The focus is on easy and independent distribution of plugins and small specific interfaces. Ultimate flexibility is of second concern.


Plugins are just shared libraries which offer well defined Interfaces. A Plugin may offer more than one interface and may in turn request/use interfaces from other Plugins or from the main application.

Interface Definition

Interfaces are declared in header files. They use some tool macros to give a convenient definition language. Basically, Interfaces are fixed — with the exception that new functions may be added. Plugin Version Management should stay out of the view most of the time.

Plugin interfaces are simple C structs with some metadata at the beginning and function prototypes added at the end. With some macros we can map simple functions to versioned interfaces. Compiled plugins will stay compatible even if the interface is extended, while sourcecode need maintenance.

An interface needs a name and a version. They define a block where the actual function prototypes can be added. New prototypes have to be added at the end, existing prototypes must never be changed. Each function prototype must be given with its different parts:

  • return type

  • name

  • arguments list

  • version.

        LUMIERA_IPROTO(void, bar, (void)),
        LUMIERA_IPROTO(int, baz, (int i))

        LUMIERA_IPROTO(void, bar, (void)),
        LUMIERA_IPROTO(int, baz, (float i))

Note that the version 2 interface changed the parameter from int to float for the baz function.

The interface/plugin framework will expand the above definitions into:

struct lumiera_interface_foo_1
        struct lumiera_interface interface_header_;
        void (*bar) (void);
        int (*baz) (int i);

struct lumiera_interface_foo_2
        struct lumiera_interface interface_header_;
        void (*bar) (void);
        int (*baz) (float i);

Implementation of Interfaces

Interfaces can be implemented either in core code or through plugins. In each case, such an instantiation of an interface means that actual functions are mapped to the corresponding slots in the interface structure.

Implementing an interface
LUMIERA_INTERFACE_DECLARE (interface_descriptor, 0,
                           /* The following slots are some human-readable descriptions of certain properties */
                           LUMIERA_INTERFACE_SLOT (const char*, name, (LumieraInterface)),
                           LUMIERA_INTERFACE_SLOT (const char*, version, (LumieraInterface)),
                           LUMIERA_INTERFACE_SLOT (const char*, author, (LumieraInterface)),
                           LUMIERA_INTERFACE_SLOT (const char*, copyright, (LumieraInterface)),
                           LUMIERA_INTERFACE_SLOT (const char*, license, (LumieraInterface))
                           /* TODO add more things here, dependencies, provisions etc */

Lumiera Plugin API

The Lumiera Interface/Plugin framework provides some functions to manage Plugins. Actually a user requests interfaces. The libraries which implement Plugins are managed transparently. Interfaces are exported as instances and are not necessary singleton. This means that a single Plugin can export the same interface type several times under different names. The naming rules for interfaces need to be defined elsewhere.

loading and opening a Plugin

Plugins are looked up in $LUMIERA_PLUGIN_PATH, which is a colon separated list of directories, and then in a specific “Lumiera plugin dir”, where standard plugins get installed alongside with the Application