plugins vs extensions ? plugins vs tools ?  Topic is solved

plugins vs extensions ? plugins vs tools ?

Postby bimbachi » Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:13 pm

Hello everybody - 2 question, just for peace of my mind

In skp app we have plugins and tools — with time I understand less and less difference between both.
... And now in Sketchucation plugin we have plugins and extensions. So now I'm starting to be confused

What is the difference between plugins vs tools ?
and
What is the difference between plugins & extensions ?

Can anybody help on this?
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Re: plugins vs extensions ? plugins vs tools ?  Topic is solved

Postby mitcorb » Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:12 pm

Hi.
Look at this to get you started:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_extension
And this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_%28computing%29

Whereas, a tool would be a command or possibly a set of commands already built in to the basic program and accessed on the User level such as the Pen tool or the Rectangle tool as opposed to the programmer or developer level, although there may be tools of a different nature at the deeper level also.
I would say the above should give you a good everyday working understanding. Much deeper discussion could be had on any of these elements.
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Re: plugins vs extensions ? plugins vs tools ?

Postby cotty » Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:31 pm

Rich O Brien wrote:A plugin doesn't show up in the preferences extensions list

An extension is a posh plugin.

Extension can be toggled on and off whilst plugins can't. That is if you don't have the PluginStore.

Extension is an ideal way of packaging tools. It has a file that declare its version number and author and tells SketchUp to load the remaining files from a folder within the plugins folder. Keeping things tidier.

Plugins are mostly snippets of code that reside directly in the root of the plugins folder and inject menu entries an toolbars.
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Re: plugins vs extensions ? plugins vs tools ?

Postby TIG » Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:31 pm

My go...

SketchUp allows Ruby files [aka 'scripts', i.e. those files ending in .rb/.rbs] that are located in specific folders, to auto-load as SketchUp starts.
These files add extended or automated functions into SketchUp.
These are all generically known as 'Scripts' or 'Plugins' [same thing].
A few of SketchUp's own scripts load from a folder named 'Tools'.
This is simply a separate folder from all of the other scripts in the 'Plugins' folder to keep things tidy.
Scripts inside the Tools AND Plugins folder auto-load as SketchUp starts.
ALL 3rd-paty scripts should go into the Plugins folder.

Each script's author determines how its functions are used.
Often these appear in the Plugins menu, or its submenus.
But don't be lulled into thinking this is where ALL scripts that are found in the Plugins folder will appear.
This is always determined by the author, indeed many do appear in any of the other available menus.
Some are operated by the context-menu only, or toolbar driven etc...
System scripts loading from within the Tools folder will often appear under the Plugins menu to add to the confusion !

So if something appears in the Tools menu or the Plugins menu [or any other place for that matter] it is quite unimportant.

Now for Extensions...
There is no intrinsic difference between a plain vanilla 'Plugin' and an 'Extension'.
They are both 'Plugin' scripts...
Often a simple Plugin script consisting of just one .rb file can load quite complex functions.
Some time ago the SketchUp team developed the concept of an 'Extension'.
This is a [usually more complex] Plugin written in such a way that the .rb file in the Plugins folder is simply a 'loader' that sets up the Extension, which in turn uses several other files that do the bulk of the tasks - these are kept in a subfolder with the 'loader' inside the Plugins folder.
Unlike a vanilla Plugin which auto-loads every time SketchUp starts, an Extension that is auto-loaded can be set to be initially 'disabled', so that its functions do not loaded at startup, but later they can be loaded as the user wishes. Although a restart of SketchUp is still needed to 'unload' recently disabled Extensions...
So Extensions gave users the ability to switch complex feature on/off as Sketchup [re]starts, unavailable to vanilla Plugins.

BUT recent advances, like the SketchUcation Plugin Store and its Plugins and Extensions Managers, allow users to do the equivalent process will ALL Plugin scripts - and allow users to Enable/Disable sets of simple Plugins and more complex Extensions: the latest version even has a Plugins Uninstaller...

So, in essence All Scripts are 'Plugins', and some Plugins are Extensions.
The differences between them are blurred by recent advances.
Where a script appears in the various menus has no relationship to whether the script loads from the Plugins or the 'system' Tools folder: each script's author decides on where it appears and how it is used...
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Re: plugins vs extensions ? plugins vs tools ?

Postby bimbachi » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:38 pm

TIG
msny thanks,
your answer explains everything and shows great complexity of the situation, once again thank you.
It seems to me that now the large quantity of possibul tools, generates a problem of a clarity of the interface and capabilities to addapt to the user needs.
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