External Plugins

Table of Contents
  1. Plugin interfaces
    1. RPC interface
    2. Raw interface
    3. Logging
  2. Plugin configuration file format
    1. exec
    2. interface
    3. errLog
  3. Task configuration

External plugin tasks are executed by running an external binary.

Plugin interfaces

Stash communicates with external plugin tasks using an interface. Stash currently supports RPC and raw interface types.

Stash communicates with external plugins using an interface. Stash currently supports RPC and raw interface types.

RPC interface

The RPC interface uses JSON-RPC to communicate with the plugin process. A golang plugin utilising the RPC interface is available in the stash source code under pkg/plugin/examples/gorpc. RPC plugins are expected to provide an interface that fulfils the RPCRunner interface in pkg/plugin/common.

RPC plugins are expected to accept requests asynchronously.

When stopping an RPC plugin task, the stash server sends a stop request to the plugin and relies on the plugin to stop itself.

Raw interface

Raw interface plugins are not required to conform to any particular interface. The stash server will send the plugin input to the plugin process via its stdin stream, encoded as JSON. Raw interface plugins are not required to read the input.

The stash server reads stdout for the plugin’s output. If the output can be decoded as a JSON representation of the plugin output data structure then it will do so. If not, it will treat the entire stdout string as the plugin’s output.

When stopping a raw plugin task, the stash server kills the spawned process without warning or signals.


External plugins may log to the stash server by writing to stderr. By default, data written to stderr will be logged by stash at the error level. This default behaviour can be changed by setting the errLog field in the plugin configuration file.

Plugins can log for specific levels or log progress by prefixing the output string with special control characters. See pkg/plugin/common/log for how this is done in go.

Plugin configuration file format


For external plugin tasks, the exec field is a list with the first element being the binary that will be executed, and the subsequent elements are the arguments passed. The execution process will search the path for the binary, then will attempt to find the program in the same directory as the plugin configuration file. The exe extension is not necessary on Windows systems.

⚠️ Note: The plugin execution process sets the current working directory to that of the stash process.

Arguments can include the plugin’s directory with the special string {pluginDir}.

For example, if the plugin executable my_plugin is placed in the plugins subdirectory and requires arguments foo and bar, then the exec part of the configuration would look like the following:

  - my_plugin
  - foo
  - bar

Another example might use a python script to execute the plugin. Assuming the python script foo.py is placed in the same directory as the plugin config file, the exec fragment would look like the following:

  - python
  - {pluginDir}/foo.py


For external plugin tasks, the interface field must be set to one of the following values:

  • rpc
  • raw

See the Plugin interfaces section above for details on these interface types.

The interface field defaults to raw if not provided.


The errLog field tells stash what the default log level should be when the plugin outputs to stderr without encoding a log level. It defaults to the error level if no provided. This field is not necessary if the plugin outputs logging with the appropriate encoding. See the Logging section above for details.

Task configuration

In addition to the standard task configuration, external tasks may be configured with an optional execArgs field to add extra parameters to the execution arguments for the task.

For example:

  - name: <operation name>
    description: <optional description>
      - <arg to add to the exec line>