Plugin or Plug-in | Part 1

Plugin or Plug-in | Part 1

Plugin or Plug-in

A plugin (also referred to as plug-in, add-in and add-on) is generally a software application implemented to incorporate additional features or capabilities with regard to other stand-alone main applications, presenting some type of unique capability or perhaps very specific features. Generally small as well as easily portable, an add-on or plug-in can be utilized easily when needed. An application program could use this technique a variety of reasons, for instance enabling external software developers to improve product performance, support capabilities up until now unknown, reducing the size of the application, as well as separate the various components of the source code because of license incompatibility of the main application program.

Plugin Mechanism

The host software application provides services which the plugins have the ability to use, such as an extension form to register by itself in the host application together with a protocol for swapping information between them. The plugins rely on most of these services, and usually will not function by themselves. In contrast, the host application is usually independent, to have the ability to add as well as update plugins dynamically without having to develop modifications in their own host application.

Plug-ins and Extensions

In relation to web browsers, plug-ins differ as extensions. Plug-ins tend to be external binary components while using the Netscape Plugin API (ActiveX or perhaps Microsoft Internet Explorer) to deal with fresh forms of multimedia applications. Extensions, on the other hand, tend to be integrated with the web browser application logic, i.e., the program within the web browser. Considering the fact that both plug-ins as well as extensions, increase the effectiveness of the original software, Mozilla make use of the term “add-on” as an extensive group of modules made up of replacement of plug-ins, themes, as well as search tools.

For instance, the original motivation behind the development of Mozilla Firefox was the year of the application of a smaller platform, abandoning exotic or even custom features to be used by extensions to avoid incorporating features in abundance in the main program. That is in comparison with the “kitchen sink” (also referred to as “scope creep”, labels applied whenever a design changes excessively in the course of its development) of its predecessors, the Mozilla Application Suite and Netscape 6 and 7.

Consequently, following integration, extensions can be viewed as a part of the browser itself, designed from a set of optional modules. Firefox also works with plug-ins using NPAPI (or Application Programming Interface Plugin From Netscape). In case the browser detects a reference to a content that is specialized plug-in, the data will be handed over to get processed by that plug-in. While there is generally a clear separation between the browser as well as the plug-in, the results tend to be discrete objects included inside a web page. The similar distinction between plug-ins as well as extensions are in use by other browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, in which a typical example may be a new toolbar, and thus a plug-in will be able to embed a video player to the web page.

An extension of software is a computer program designed to be embedded in another piece of software to enhance or extend the functionality of this. On their own, the program is not useful or functional for the user.

A plugin is an application that relates to another for a new function and usually very specific. This additional application is executed by the main application and interacts via the API. A plug-in is actually a sort of supplement to the main program, and is also known as plug-in, add-on, complement, connector and extension.

Plugins can help:

  • External developers to work with the main application to extend its functions
  • Reduce the size of the application
  • Separate the application’s source code because of the incompatibility of software licenses

Some types of applications that often include additions are:

  • Web browsers. Often require certain plug-ins which can extend the capabilities of web pages for interactive content, videos and the like. A familiar example is the Adobe Flash plug-in that loads an interactive multimedia animations used, for example, to view videos.
  • Music players. Some allow add-ons to play formats that are not originally supported, sound effects or video, display or displays animations that move to the music you’re listening to, among other options. Windows Media Player and WinAmp support many of these options.
  • Content management systems. To change the appearance, add buttons or other content to web pages they create. The many WordPress plug-ins are well known among bloggers and webmasters.
  • In general, any application can add support for accessories.




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