Writing Pipeline-Compatible Plugins

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Plugin Developer Guide

If you are maintaining (or creating) a plugin and wish its features to work smoothly with Pipeline, there are a number of special considerations.

Extension points accessible via metastep

Several common types of plugin features @Extensions can be invoked from a Pipeline script without any special plugin dependencies so long as you use newer Jenkins core APIs. Then there is “metastep” in Pipeline (step, checkout, wrap) which loads the extension by class name and calls it.

General guidelines

There are several considerations common to the various metasteps.

Jenkins core dependency

First, make sure the baseline Jenkins version in your pom.xml is sufficiently new.

Suggested versions for:

This introduces some new API methods, and deprecates some old ones.

If you are nervous about making your plugin depend on a recent Jenkins version, remember that you can always create a branch from your previous release (setting the version to x.y.1-SNAPSHOT) that works with older versions of Jenkins and git cherry-pick -x trunk changes into it as needed; or merge from one branch to another if that is easier. (mvn -B release:prepare release:perform works fine on a branch and knows to increment just the last version component)

More general APIs

Table 1. Api replacement
Original Replacement

AbstractBuild.getProject

Run.getParent

BuildListener

TaskListener (in new method overloads)

getBuiltOn

FilePath.toComputer (if you need a Node where the build is running)

TransientProjectActionFactory

TransientActionFactory<Job>

Variable substitutions

There is no equivalent to AbstractBuild.getBuildVariables() for WorkflowRun (any Groovy local variables are not accessible as such). Also, WorkflowRun.getEnvironment(TaskListener) is implemented, but only yields the initial build environment, irrespective of withEnv blocks and the like.

To get the contextual environment in a Step, you can inject EnvVars using @StepContextParameter;
Pending JENKINS-29144 there is no equivalent for a SimpleBuildStep. But SimpleBuildWrapper does have access to an initialEnvironment if required.

Anyway code run from Pipeline should take any configuration values as literal strings and make no attempt to perform variable substitution (including via the token-macro plugin), since the script author would be using Groovy facilities ("like ${this}") for any desired dynamic behavior. To have a single code fragment support both Pipeline and traditional builds, you can use idioms such as:

private final String location;

public String getLocation() {
    return location;
}

@DataBoundSetter
public void setLocation(String location) {
    this.location = location;
}

private String actualLocation(Run<?,?> build, TaskListener listener) {
    if (build instanceof AbstractBuild) {
        EnvVars env = build.getEnvironment(listener);
        env.overrideAll(((AbstractBuild) build).getBuildVariables());
        return env.expand(location);
    } else {
        return location;
    }
}
JENKINS-35671 would simplify this.

Constructor vs. setters

It is a good idea to replace a lengthy @DataBoundConstructor with a short one taking just truly mandatory parameters (such as a server location). For all optional parameters, create a public setter marked with @DataBoundSetter (with any non-null default value set in the constructor or field initializer). This allows most parameters to be left at their default values in a Pipeline script, not to mention simplifying ongoing code maintenance because it is much easier to introduce new options this way.

For Java-level compatibility, leave any previous constructors in place, but mark them @Deprecated. Also remove @DataBoundConstructor from them (there can be only one).

Handling default values

To ensure Snippet Generator enumerates only those options the user has actually customized from their form defaults, ensure that Jelly default attributes match the property defaults as seen from the getter. For a cleaner XStream serial form in freestyle projects, it is best for the default value to also be represented as a null in the Java field. So for example if you want a textual property which can sensibly default to blank, your configuration form would look like

<f:entry field="stuff" title="${%Stuff}">
    <f:textbox/>
</f:entry>

and your Describable should use

@CheckForNull
private String stuff;

@CheckForNull
public String getStuff() {
    return stuff;
}

@DataBoundSetter
public void setStuff(@CheckForNull String stuff) {
    this.stuff = Util.fixNull(stuff);
}

If you want a nonblank default, it is a little more complicated. If you do not care about XStream hygiene, for example because the Describable is a Pipeline Step (or is only being used as part of one):

<f:entry field="stuff" title="${%Stuff}">
    <f:textbox default="${descriptor.defaultStuff}"/>
</f:entry>
@NonNull
private String stuff = DescriptorImpl.defaultStuff;

@NonNull
public String getStuff() {
    return stuff;
}

@DataBoundSetter
public void setStuff(@NonNull String stuff) {
    this.stuff = stuff;
}

@Extension
public static class DescriptorImpl extends Descriptor<Whatever> {
    public static final String defaultStuff = "junk";
    // …
}
The Descriptor is the most convenient place to put a constant for use from a Jelly view: descriptor is always defined even if instance is null, and Jelly/JEXL allows a static field to be loaded using instance-field notation. From a Groovy view you could use any syntax supported by Java to refer to a constant, but Jelly in Jenkins is weaker: getStatic will not work on classes defined in plugins.

To make sure the field is omitted from the XStream form when unmodified, you can use the same Descriptor and configuration form but null out the default:

@CheckForNull
private String stuff;

@NonNull
public String getStuff() {
    return stuff == null ? DescriptorImpl.defaultStuff : stuff;
}

@DataBoundSetter
public void setStuff(@NonNull String stuff) {
    this.stuff = stuff.equals(DescriptorImpl.defaultStuff) ? null : stuff;
}

None of these considerations apply to mandatory parameters with no default, which should be requested in the @DataBoundConstructor and have a simple getter.

You could still have a default in the configuration form as a hint to new users, as a complement to a full description in help-stuff.html, but the value chosen will always be saved.

Handling secrets

If your plugin ever stored secrets (such as passwords) in a plain String-valued fields, it was already insecure and should at least have been using Secret. Secret-valued fields are more secure, but are not really appropriate for projects defined in source code, like Pipeline jobs.

Instead you should integrate with the Credentials plugin. Then your builder etc. would typically have a credentialsId field which just refers to the ID of the credentials. (The user can pick a mnemonic ID for use in scripted jobs.) Typically the config.jelly used in Snippet Generator will have a <c:select/> control, backed by a doFillCredentialsId web method on the Descriptor to enumerate credentials currently available of the intended type (such as StandardUsernamePasswordCredentials) and perhaps restricted to some domain (such as a hostname obtained via a @QueryParameter from a nearby form field). At runtime, you will look up the credentials by ID and use them.

Plugins formerly using Secret will generally need to use an @Initializer to migrate the configuration of freestyle projects to use Credentials instead.

The details of adopting Credentials are too numerous to list here. Please refer to Credentials plugin documentation

Defining symbols

By default, scripts making use of your plugin will need to refer to the (simple) Java class name of the extension. For example, if you defined

public class ForgetBuilder extends Builder implements SimpleBuildStep {
    private final String what;

    @DataBoundConstructor
    public ForgetBuilder(String what) {
        this.what = what;
    }

    public String getWhat() {
        return what;
    }

    @Override
    public void perform(Run build,
                        FilePath workspace,
                        Launcher launcher,
                        TaskListener listener) throws InterruptedException, IOException {
        listener.getLogger().println("What was " + what + "?");
    }

    @Extension
    public static class DescriptorImpl extends BuildStepDescriptor<Builder> {

        @Override
        public String getDisplayName() {
            return "Forget things";
        }

        @Override
        public boolean isApplicable(Class<? extends AbstractProject> t) {
            return true;
        }
    }
}

then scripts would use this builder as follows:

step([$class: 'ForgetBuilder', what: 'everything'])

To make for a more attractive and mnemonic usage style, you can depend on org.jenkins-ci.plugins:structs and add a @Symbol to your Descriptor, uniquely identifying it among extensions of its kind (in this example, SimpleBuildSteps):

@Symbol("forget")
@Extension
public static class DescriptorImpl extends BuildStepDescriptor<Builder> {

Now when users of sufficiently new versions of Pipeline wish to run your builder, they can use a shorter syntax:

forget 'everything'

@Symbols are not limited to extensions used at “top level” by metasteps such as step. Any Descriptor can have an associated symbol. Therefore if your plugin uses other Describables for any kind of structured configuration, you should also annotate those implementations. For example if you have defined an extension point

public abstract Timeframe extends AbstractDescribableImpl<Timeframe> implements ExtensionPoint {
    public abstract boolean areWeThereYet();
}

with some implementations such as

@Extension
public class Immediately extends Timeframe {
    @DataBoundConstructor
    public Immediately() {}

    @Override
    public boolean areWeThereYet() {
        return true;
    }

    @Symbol("now")
    @Extension
    public static DescriptorImpl extends Descriptor<Timeframe> {
        @Override
        public String getDisplayName() {
            return "Right now";
        }
    }
}

or

@Extension
public class HoursAway extends Timeframe {
    private final long hours;

    @DataBoundConstructor
    public HoursAway(long hours) {
        this.hours = hours;
    }

    public long getHours() {
        return hours;
    }

    @Override
    public boolean areWeThereYet() {/* … */}

    @Symbol("soon")
    @Extension
    public static DescriptorImpl extends Descriptor<Timeframe> {
        @Override
        public String getDisplayName() {
            return "Pretty soon";
        }
    }
}

which are selectable in your configuration

private Timeframe when = new Immediately();

public Timeframe getWhen() {
    return when;
}

@DataBoundSetter
public void setWhen(Timeframe when) {
    this.when = when;
}

then a script could select a timeframe using the symbols you have defined:

forget 'nothing' // whenever
forget what: 'something', when: now()
forget what: 'everything else', when: soon(1)

Snippet Generator will offer the simplified syntax wherever available. Freestyle project configuration will ignore the symbol, though a future version of the Job DSL plugin may take advantage of it.

SCMs

See the user documentation for background.

The checkout metastep uses an SCM.

As the author of an SCM plugin, there are some changes you should make to ensure your plugin can be used from pipelines. You can use mercurial-plugin as a relatively straightforward code example.

Basic update

Make sure your Jenkins baseline is at least 1.568 (or 1.580.1, the next LTS). Check your plugin for compilation warnings relating to hudson.scm.* classes to see outstanding changes you need to make. Most importantly, various methods in SCM which formerly took an AbstractBuild now take a more generic Run (i.e., potentially a Pipeline build) plus a FilePath (i.e., a workspace). Use the specified workspace rather than the former build.getWorkspace(), which only worked for traditional projects with a single workspace. Similarly, some methods formerly taking AbstractProject now take the more generic Job. Be sure to use @Override wherever possible to make sure you are using the right overloads.

changelogFile may now be null in checkout. If so, just skip changelog generation. checkout also now takes an SCMRevisionState so you can know what to compare against without referring back to the build.

SCMDescriptor.isApplicable should be switched to the Job overload. Typically you will unconditionally return true.

Checkout key

You should override the new getKey. This allows a Pipeline job to match up checkouts from build to build so it knows how to look for changes.

Browser selection

You may override the new guessBrowser, so that scripts do not need to specify the changelog browser to display.

Commit triggers

If you have a commit trigger, generally an UnprotectedRootAction which schedules builds, it will need a few changes. Use SCMTriggerItem rather than the deprecated SCMedItem; use SCMTriggerItem.SCMTriggerItems.asSCMTriggerItem rather than checking instanceof. Its getSCMs method can be used to enumerate configured SCMs, which in the case of a pipeline will be those run in the last build. Use its getSCMTrigger method to look for a configured trigger (for example to check isIgnorePostCommitHooks).

Ideally you will already be integrated with the scm-api plugin and implementing SCMSource; if not, now is a good time to try it. In the future pipelines may take advantage of this API to support automatic creation of subprojects for each detected branch.

Explicit integration

If you want to provide a smoother experience for Pipeline users than is possible via the generic scm step, you can add a (perhaps optional) dependency on workflow-scm-step to your plugin. Define a SCMStep using SCMStepDescriptor and you can define a friendly, script-oriented syntax. You still need to make the aforementioned changes, since at the end you are just preconfiguring an SCM.

Build steps

See the user documentation for background.

The metastep is step.

To add support for use of a Builder or Publisher from a pipeline, depend on Jenkins 1.577+, typically 1.580.1. Then implement SimpleBuildStep, following the guidelines in its Javadoc. Also prefer @DataBoundSetters to a sprawling @DataBoundConstructor (see Constructor vs. setters).

Mandatory workspace context

Note that a SimpleBuildStep is designed to work also in a freestyle project, and thus assumes that a FilePath workspace is available (as well as some associated services, like a Launcher). That is always true in a freestyle build, but is a potential limitation for use from a Pipeline build. For example, you might legitimately want to take some action outside the context of any workspace:

node('win64') {
  bat 'make all'
  archive 'myapp.exe'
}
input 'Ready to tell the world?' // could pause indefinitely, do not tie up an agent
step([$class: 'FunkyNotificationBuilder', artifact: 'myapp.exe']) // ← FAILS!

Even if FunkyNotificationBuilder implements SimpleBuildStep, the above will fail, because the workspace required by SimpleBuildStep.perform is missing. You could grab an arbitrary workspace just to run the builder:

node('win64') {
  bat 'make all'
  archive 'myapp.exe'
}
input 'Ready to tell the world?'
node {
  step([$class: 'FunkyNotificationBuilder', artifact: 'myapp.exe']) // OK
}

but if the workspace is being ignored anyway (in this case because FunkyNotificationBuilder only cares about artifacts that have already been archived), it may be better to just write a custom step (described below).

Run listeners vs. publishers

For code which genuinely has to run after the build completes, there is RunListener. If the behavior of this hook needs to be customizable at the job level, the usual technique would be to define a JobProperty. (One distinction from freestyle projects is that in the case of Pipeline there is no way to introspect the “list of build steps” or “list of publishers” or “list of build wrappers” so any decisions based on such metadata are impossible.)

In most other cases, you just want some code to run after some portion of the build completes, which is typically handled with a Publisher if you wish to share a code base with freestyle projects. For regular Publishers, which are run as part of the build, a Pipeline script would use the step metastep. There are two subtypes:

  • Recorders generally should be placed inline with other build steps in whatever order makes sense.

  • Notifiers can be placed in a finally block, or you can use the catchError step.

This document goes into depth.

Build wrappers

Here the metastep is wrap. To add support for a BuildWrapper, depend on Jenkins 1.599+ (typically 1.609.1), and implement SimpleBuildWrapper, following the guidelines in its Javadoc.

Like SimpleBuildStep, wrappers written this way always require a workspace. If that would be constricting, consider writing a custom step instead.

Triggers

Replace Trigger<AbstractProject> with Trigger<X> where X is Job or perhaps ParameterizedJob or SCMTriggerItem and implement TriggerDescriptor.isApplicable accordingly.

Use EnvironmentContributor rather than RunListener.setUpEnvironment.

Clouds

Do not necessarily need any special integration, but “one-shot”-style agent implementations are encouraged to use OnceRetentionStrategy from durable-task (or otherwise use ExecutorListener and consider ContinuableExecutable) to allow Pipeline builds to survive restarts. You should not implement EphemeralNode or listen to Run events.

Custom steps

Plugins can also implement custom Pipeline steps with specialized behavior.

See here for more.

Historical background

Traditional Jenkins Jobs are defined in a fairly deep type hierarchy: FreestyleProjectProjectAbstractProjectJobAbstractItemItem. (As well as paired Run types: FreestyleBuild, etc.) In older versions of Jenkins, much of the interesting implementation was in AbstractProject (or AbstractBuild), which was packed full of assorted features not present in Job (or Run). Some of these features were also needed by Pipeline, like having a programmatic way to start a build (optionally with parameters), or lazy-load build records, or integrate with SCM triggers. Others were not applicable to Pipeline, like declaring a single SCM and a single workspace per build, or being tied to a specific label, or running a linear sequence of build steps within the scope of a single Java method call, or having a simple list of build steps and wrappers whose configuration is guaranteed to remain the same from build to build.

WorkflowJob directly extends Job since it cannot act like an AbstractProject. Therefore some refactoring was needed, to make the relevant features available to other Job types without code or API duplication. Rather than introduce yet another level into the type hierarchy (and freezing for all time the decision about which features are more “generic” than others), mixins were introduced. Each encapsulates a set of related functionality originally tied to AbstractProject but now also usable from WorkflowJob (and potentially other future Job types).

  • ParameterizedJobMixIn allows a job to be scheduled to the queue (the older BuildableItem was inadequate), taking care also of build parameters and the REST build trigger.

  • SCMTriggerItem integrates with SCMTrigger, including a definition of which SCM or SCMs a job is using, and how it should perform polling. It also allows various plugins to interoperate with the Multiple SCMs plugin without needing an explicit dependency. Supersedes and deprecates SCMedItem.

  • LazyBuildMixIn handles the plumbing of lazy-loading build records (a system introduced in Jenkins 1.485).

For Pipeline compatibility, plugins formerly referring to AbstractProject/AbstractBuild will generally need to start dealing with Job/Run but may also need to refer to ParameterizedJobMixIn and/or SCMTriggerItem. (LazyBuildMixIn is rarely needed from outside code, as the methods defined in Job/Run suffice for typical purposes.)

Future improvements to Pipeline may well require yet more implementation code to be extracted from AbstractProject/AbstractBuild. The main constraint is the need to retain binary compatibility.

References