Plugin API



bzrlib has a very flexible internal structure allowing plugins for many operations. Plugins can add commands, new storage formats, diff and merge features and more. This document provides an overview of the API and conventions for plugin authors.

If you’re writing a plugin and have questions not addressed by this document, please ask us.

See also

Structure of a plugin

Plugins are Python modules under bzrlib.plugins. They can be installed either into the PYTHONPATH in that location, or in ~/.bazaar/plugins.

Plugins should have a

As for other Python modules, the name of the directory must match the expected name of the plugin.

Plugin metadata before installation

Plugins can export a summary of what they provide, and what versions of bzrlib they are compatible with. This allows tools to be written to work with plugins, such as to generate a directory of plugins, or install them via a symlink/checkout to ~/.bazaar/plugins.

This interface allows bzr to interrogate a plugin without actually loading it. This is useful because loading a plugin may have side effects such as registering or overriding commands, or the plugin may raise an error, if for example a prerequisite is not present.

Metadata protocol

A plugin that supports the bzr plugin metadata protocol will do two things. Firstly, the for the plugin will guard the call to setup():

if __name__ == 'main':

Secondly, the setup module will have one or more of the following variables present at module scope. Any variables that are missing will be given the defaults from the table. An example of every variable is provided after the full list.

Variable Default Definition
bzr_plugin_name None The name the plugin package should be given on disk. The plugin is then available to python at bzrlib.plugins.NAME
bzr_commands [] A list of the commands that the plugin provides. Commands that already exist in bzr and are decorated by the plugin do not need to be listed (but it is not harmful if you do list them).
bzr_plugin_version None A version_info 5-tuple with the plugins version.
bzr_minimum_version None A version_info 3-tuple for comparison with the bzrlib minimum and current version, for determining likely compatibility.
bzr_maximum_version None A version_info 3-tuple like bzr_minimum_version but checking the upper limits supported.
bzr_control_formats {} A dictionary of descriptions of version control directories. See Control Formats below.
bzr_checkout_formats {} A dictionary of tree_format_string -> human description strings, for tree formats that drop into the .bzr/checkout metadir system.
bzr_branch_formats {} As bzr_checkout_formats but for branches.
bzr_repository_formats {} As bzr_checkout_formats but for repositories.
bzr_transports [] URL prefixes for which this plugin will register transports.

Control Formats

Because disk format detection for formats that bzr does not understand at all can be useful, we allow a declarative description of the shape of a control directory. Each description has a name for showing to users, and a dictonary of relative paths, and the content needed at each path. Paths that end in ‘/’ are required to be directories and the value for that key is ignored. Other paths are required to be regular files, and the value for that key is either None, in which case the file is statted but the content is ignored, or a literal string which is compared against for the content of the file. Thus:

# (look for a .hg directory)
bzr_control_formats = {"Mercurial":{'.hg/': None}}

# (look for a file called .svn/format with contents 4\n).
bzr_control_formats = {"Subversion":{'.svn/format': '4\n'}}


An example follows:

#!/usr/bin/env python2.4
from distutils.core import setup

bzr_plugin_name = 'demo'
bzr_commands = [

bzr_branch_formats = {
    "Branch label on disk\n":"demo branch",

bzr_control_formats = {"Subversion":{'.svn/format': '4\n'}}

bzr_transports = ["hg+ssh://"]

bzr_plugin_version = (1, 3, 0, 'dev', 0)
bzr_minimum_version = (1, 0, 0)

if __name__ == 'main':
          description="Demo plugin for plugin metadata.",
          author="Canonical Ltd",
          license = "GNU GPL v2",
          package_dir={'bzrlib.plugins.demo': '.'})

Plugin metadata after installation

After a plugin has been installed, metadata can be more easily obtained by looking inside the module object – in other words, for variables defined in the plugin’s

Help and documentation

The module docstring is used as the plugin description shown by bzr plugins. As with all Python docstrings, the first line should be a short complete sentence summarizing the plugin. The full docstring is shown by bzr help PLUGIN_NAME.

This is a user-visible docstring so should be prefixed with __doc__ = to ensure help works under python -OO with docstrings stripped.

API version

Plugins can and should declare that they depend on a particular version of bzrlib like so:

from bzrlib.api import require_api

require_api(bzrlib, (1, 11, 0))

Please see API versioning for more details on the API metadata protocol used by bzrlib.

Plugin version

The plugin should expose a version tuple to describe its own version. Some plugins use a version number that corresponds to the version of bzr they’re released against, but you can use whatever you want. For example:

version_info = (1, 10, 0)

Detecting whether code’s being loaded as a plugin

You may have a Python module that can be used as a bzr plugin and also in other places. To detect whether the module is being loaded by bzr, use something like this:

if __name__ == 'bzrlib.plugins.loggerhead':
    # register with bzrlib...

Plugin performance

Plugins should avoid doing work or loading code from the plugin or external libraries, if they’re just installed but not actually active, because this slows down every invocation of bzr. The bzrlib APIs generally allow the plugin to ‘lazily’ register methods to invoke if a particular disk format or seen or a particular command is run.

Plugin registrations

The plugin runs when the plugin is loaded during bzr startup. Generally the plugin won’t want to actually do anything at this time other than register or override functions to be called later.

The plugin can import bzrlib and call any function. Some interesting APIs are described in Bazaar Plugins Guide.

Publishing your plugin

When your plugin is basically working you might like to share it with other people. Here are some steps to consider: