Mirror of Apache CouchDB

Clone this repo:
  1. 3e73b72 Fix crypto deprecations by Robert Newson · 9 years ago master
  2. 2b2933e add license by Robert Kowalski · 9 years ago
  3. f5a7223 Fixed bad windows temp file by Oscar Reinecke · 10 years ago
  4. 0787a36 Replace more ?LOG_* with couch_log by Alexander Shorin · 10 years ago
  5. fbfa175 Use couch_log instead of ?LOG_* by Alexander Shorin · 10 years ago


I couldn’t help myself thinking about plugin stuff and ended up whipping up a proof of concept.

Here’s a <1 minute demo video:


Alternative encoding:


In my head the whole plugin idea is a very wide area, but I was so intrigued by the idea of getting something running with a click on a button in Futon. So I looked for a minimally viable plugin system.

Design principles

It took me a day to put this all together and this was only possible because I took a lot of shortcuts. I believe they are all viable for a first iteration of a plugins system:

  1. Install with one click on a button in Futon (or HTTP call)
  2. Only pure Erlang plugins are allowed.
  3. The plugin author must provide a binary package for each Erlang (and, later, each CouchDB version).
  4. Complete trust-based system. You trust me to not do any nasty things when you click on the install button. No crypto, no nothing. Only people who can commit to Futon can release new versions of plugins.
  5. Minimal user-friendlyness: won’t install plugins that don’t match the current Erlang version, gives semi-sensible error messages (wrapped in a HTTP 500 response :)
  6. Require a pretty strict format for binary releases.


Here’s a list of things this first iterations does and doesn’t do:

  • Pure Erlang plugins only. No C-dependencies, no JavaScript, no nothing.
  • No C-dependencies.
  • Install a plugin via Futon (or HTTP call). Admin only.
  • A hardcoded list of plugins in Futon.
  • Loads a pre-packaged, pre-compiled .tar.gz file from a URL.
  • Only installs if Erlang version matches.
  • No security checking of binaries.
  • No identity checking of binaries.
  • Register installed plugins in the config system.
  • Make sure plugins start with the next restart of CouchDB.
  • Uninstall a plugin via Futon (or HTTP call). Admin only.
  • Show when a particular plugin is installed.
  • Only installs if CouchDB version matches.
  • Serve static web assets (for Futon/Fauxton) from /_plugins/<name>/.

I hope you agree we can ship this with a few warnings so people can get a hang of it.

A roadmap, progress and issues can be found here:


How it works

This plugin system lives in src/couch_plugins and is a tiny CouchDB module.

It exposes one new API endpoint /_plugins that an admin user can POST to.

The additional Futon page lives at /_utils/plugins.html it is hardcoded.

Futon (or you) post an object to /_plugins with four properties:

  "name": "geocouch", // name of the plugin, must be unique
  "url": "http://people.apache.org/~jan", // “base URL” for plugin releases (see below)
  "version": "couchdb1.2.x_v0.3.0-11-g4ea0bea", // whatever version internal to the plugin
  "checksums": {
    "R15B03": "ZetgdHj2bY2w37buulWVf3USOZs=" // base64’d sha hash over the binary

couch_plugins then attempts to download a .tar.gz from this location:


It should be obvious how the URL is constructed from the POST data. (This url is live, feel free to play around with this tarball).

Next it calculates the sha hash for the downloaded .tar.gz file and matches it against the correct version in the checksums parameter.

If that succeeds, we unpack the .tar.gz file (currently in /tmp, need to find a better place for this) and adds the extracted directory to the Erlang code path (code:add_path("/tmp/couchdb_plugins/geocouch-couchdb1.2.x_v0.3.0-12-g4ea0bea-R15B03/ebin")) and loads the included application (application:load(geocouch)).

Then it looks into the ./priv/default.d directory that lives next to ebin/ in the plugin directory for configuration .ini files and loads them. On next startup these configuration files are loaded after global defaults, and before any local configuration.

If that all goes to plan, we report success back to the HTTP caller.

That’s it! :)

It’s deceptively simple, probably does a few things very wrong and leaves a few things open (see above).

One open question I’d like an answer for is finding a good location to unpack & install the plugin files that isn’t tmp. If the answer is different for a pre-BigCouch/rcouch-merge and post-BigCouch/rcouch- merge world, I’d love to know :)


The main branch for this is 1867-feature-plugins:

ASF: https://git-wip-us.apache.org/repos/asf?p=couchdb.git;a=log;h=refs/heads/1867-feature-plugins GitHub: https://github.com/janl/couchdb/compare/apache:master...1867-feature-plugins

I created a branch on GeoCouch that adds a few lines to its Makefile that shows how a binary package is built:



Build CouchDB as usual:

make dev

I hope you like this :) Please comment and improve heavily!

Let me know if you have any questions :)

If you have any criticism, please phrase it in a way that we can use to improve this, thanks!

Best, Jan