Apache Struts 2 Documentation > Home > Guides > Plugin Developers Guide > Plugins
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Struts 1 provides a plugin class that provides listener-like capabilities. The Struts 2 plugins are like Eclipse or FireFox plugins, and not at all like Struts 1 "plugins".

A Struts 2 plugin is a single JAR that contains classes and configuration that extend, replace, or add to existing Struts framework functionality. A plugin can be installed by adding a JAR file to the application's class path, in addition to the JAR files to fulfill whatever dependencies the plugin itself may have. To configure the plugin, the JAR should contain a struts-plugin.xml file, which follows the same format as an ordinary struts.xml file.

Since a plugin can contain the struts-plugin.xml file, it has the ability to:

  • Define new packages with results, interceptors, and/or actions
  • Override framework constants
  • Introduce new extension point implementation classes

Many popular but optional features of the framework are distributed as plugins. An application can retain all the plugins provided with the distribution, or just include the ones it uses. Plugins can be used to organize application code or to distribute code to third-parties.

Plugins are not loaded in any particular order. Plugins should not have dependencies on each other. A plugin may depend on classes provided by Struts Core, but it should not depend on classes loaded by another plugin.

The framework loads its default configuration first, then any plugin configuration files found in others JARs on the classpath, and finally the "bootstrap" struts.xml.

  1. struts-default.xml (bundled in the Core JAR)
  2. struts-plugin.xml (as many as can be found in other JARs)
  3. struts.xml (provided by your application)

Since the struts.xml file is always loaded last, it can make use of any resources provided by the plugins bundled with the distribution, or any other plugins available to an application.

Static resources

To include static resources in your plugins add them under "/static" in your jar. And include them in your page using "/static" as the path, like in the following example:

Assuming /static/main.css is inside a plugin jar, to add it to the page:

<@s.url value="/static/main.css" var="css" />
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="%{#css}" />

Extension Points

Extension points allow a plugin to override a key class in the Struts framework with an alternate implementation. For example, a plugin could provide a new class to create Action classes or map requests to Actions.

The following extension points are available in Struts 2:

Type Property Scope Description
com.opensymphony.xwork2.ObjectFactory struts.objectFactory singleton Creates actions, results, and interceptors
com.opensymphony.xwork2.ActionProxyFactory struts.actionProxyFactory singleton Creates the ActionProxy
com.opensymphony.xwork2.util.ObjectTypeDeterminer struts.objectTypeDeterminer singleton Determines what the key and element class of a Map or Collection should be
org.apache.struts2.dispatcher.mapper.ActionMapper struts.mapper.class singleton Determines the ActionMapping from a request and a URI from an ActionMapping
org.apache.struts2.dispatcher.multipart.MultiPartRequest struts.multipart.parser per request Parses a multipart request (file upload)
org.apache.struts2.views.freemarker.FreemarkerManager struts.freemarker.manager.classname singleton Loads and processes Freemarker templates
org.apache.struts2.views.velocity.VelocityManager struts.velocity.manager.classname singleton Loads and processes Velocity templates
com.opensymphony.xwork2.validator.ActionValidatorManager struts.actionValidatorManager singleton Main interface for validation managers (regular and annotation based). Handles both the loading of configuration and the actual validation (since 2.1)
com.opensymphony.xwork2.util.ValueStackFactory struts.valueStackFactory singleton Creates value stacks (since 2.1)
com.opensymphony.xwork2.reflection.ReflectionProvider struts.reflectionProvider singleton Provides reflection services, key place to plug in a custom expression language (since 2.1)
com.opensymphony.xwork2.reflection.ReflectionContextFactory struts.reflectionContextFactory singleton Creates reflection context maps used for reflection and expression language operations (since 2.1)
com.opensymphony.xwork2.config.PackageProvider N/A singleton All beans registered as PackageProvider implementations will be automatically included in configuration building (since 2.1)
com.opensymphony.xwork2.util.PatternMatcher struts.patternMatcher singleton Matches patterns, such as action names, generally used in configuration (since 2.1)
org.apache.struts2.views.dispatcher.DefaultStaticContentLoader struts.staticContentLoader singleton Loads static resources (since 2.1)

Plugin Examples

Let's look at two similar but different plugins bundled with the core distribution.

Sitemesh plugin

SiteMesh is a popular alternative to Tiles. SiteMesh provides a common look-and-feel to an application's pages by automatically wrapping a plain page with common elements like headers and menubars.

The sitemesh-plugin.jar contains several classes, a standard JAR manifest, and a plugin configuration file.

 + META-INF/
   + manifest.mf
 + org
   + apache
     + struts2
       + sitemesh
         + FreeMarkerPageFilter.class
         + TemplatePageFilter.class
         + VelocityPageFilter.class
 + struts-plugin.xml

While the SiteMesh Plugin doesn't provide any new results, interceptors, or actions, or even extend any Struts integration points, it does need to know what settings have been enabled in the Struts framework. Therefore, its struts-plugin.xml looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<!--
/*
 * $Id$
 *
 * Licensed to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under one
 * or more contributor license agreements.  See the NOTICE file
 * distributed with this work for additional information
 * regarding copyright ownership.  The ASF licenses this file
 * to you under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the
 * "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance
 * with the License.  You may obtain a copy of the License at
 *
 *  http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0
 *
 * Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing,
 * software distributed under the License is distributed on an
 * "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY
 * KIND, either express or implied.  See the License for the
 * specific language governing permissions and limitations
 * under the License.
 */
-->
<!DOCTYPE struts PUBLIC
    "-//Apache Software Foundation//DTD Struts Configuration 2.0//EN"
    "http://struts.apache.org/dtds/struts-2.0.dtd">
    
<struts>
    <bean class="org.apache.struts2.sitemesh.FreemarkerPageFilter" static="true" optional="true"/>
    <bean class="org.apache.struts2.sitemesh.VelocityPageFilter" static="true" optional="true"/>
</struts>

The two bean elements, with the "static" flag enabled, tell Struts to inject the current settings and framework objects into static property setters on startup. This allows, for example, the FreeMarkerPageFilter class to get an instance of the Struts FreemarkerManager and the current encoding setting.

Tiles plugin

Tiles is a popular alternative to SiteMesh. Tiles provides a common look-and-feel to an application's pages by breaking the page down into common fragments or "tiles".

The tiles-plugin.jar contains several classes, a standard JAR manifest, and a configuration file.

 + META-INF/
   + manifest.mf
 + org
   + apache
     + struts2
       + tiles
         + StrutsTilesListener.class
         + StrutsTileUtilImpl.class
       + views
         + tiles
           + TilesResult.class
   + struts-plugin.xml

Since the Tiles Plugin does need to register configuration elements, a result class, it provides a struts-plugin.xml file.

Plugin Registry

For more about bundled and third-party plugins, visit the Apache Struts Plugin Registry.

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