New phpPgAdmin Plugin Architecture GSoC 2011

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Student: Leonardo Augusto Sápiras

Mentor: Jehan-Guillaume de Rorthais

Co-Mentor: Andreas Scherbaum


This project will create a new plugin architecture for phpPgAdmin, using the Hook Pattern.

Benefits to the PostgreSQL Community

The current phpPgAdmin plugin architecture is deprecated, having only one plugin, Slony. Today, to create a plugin, a developer needs to write intrusive code inside the phpPgAdmin core, as Slony does today, and it is not good. With a new architecture, more ideas could be developed inside phpPgAdmin without intrusive code.

With a good plugin architecture, new plugins will be more easily created and maintained, phPgAdmin will have more users, and possibly more developers and collaborators as well.

There are some ideas that are waiting for a new architecture to be developed as plugins. Like:

  • dbdesigner plugin
  • pgpooladmin plugin
  • crud plugin

This project has been discussed in the phpPgAdmin e-mail list some time ago, and between me and Mr. Jehan-Guillaume de Rorthais some months ago. Last year Jehan-Guillaume was my mentor, so I would like to have him as my mentor again.

Quantifiable results

  1. Refactor the current plugin architecture, creating a plugin manager to deal with the plugins;
  2. Create a new plugin, to give the users a live example of how to create and integrate a plugin with the PPA core;
  3. Tests;
  4. Documentation: how to create a plugin for phpPgAdmin and integrate it with its components (action buttons, browser tree, trail, tabs, navigation links, top links);
  5. If I have time enough, I will refactor the current Slony plugin, for this feature works with the new architecture.

Project Details

Refactor the current plugin architecture

In my participation in the Google Summer of Code 2011, I have the goal to refactor the current plugin architecture.

The new plugins will have the following structure:

 |  |
 |  |--recoded
 |  |  |--english.php
 |  |--english.php
 |  |--Makefile
 |--tests/ (optional)
 |--themes/ (optional)

As can be seen above, the plugins will have their own pages, translation and configuration files.

The new plugin architecture will be developed using the Hooks Pattern. This way, the plugins will register their functions to the events they want to hook to. There are a lot of applications that use this concept, like the Drupal Open Source CMS does.


The plugins on this architecture will be able to:

  • Add an entry in the browser tree in any level (1)
  • Add an entry in the tabs (2)
  • Add an entry in the trailer (3)
  • Add an entry in the navigation links (4)
  • Add an entry in the action buttons (5)
  • Add an entry in the top links (6)

Ppa gsoc2011 screen.jpg

Plugin activation

To activate new plugins in phpPgAdmin, a new variable (array) $conf['plugins'] will be added in the PPA configuration file ( So, to activate a plugin, the user just needs to add the plugin's name in this array. Example:

 /* */
 $conf['plugins'][] = 'ppa_slony';
 $conf['plugins'][] = 'ppa_x';
 $conf['plugins'][] = 'ppa_another';

Plugin execution

phpPgAdmin will have a plugin manager, which as the name implies, will manage activated plugins. Below is an example of how the plugin_manager.php might look:

 class PluginManager {
   function add_plugin($obj_plugin) {
     $this->plugins_list[$obj_plugin->get_name()] = $obj_plugin;

   function get_plugin($plugin_name) {
     return $this->plugins_list[$plugin_name];

   function add_plugins_functions($plugin_name, $when, $function_name) {
     $this->plugins_functions[$when][] = array('plugin_name' => $plugin_name, 'function_name'=> $function_name);
   function execute_plugins_funtions($when) {
     foreach ($this->plugins_functions[$when] as $node) {
       $plugin_name   = $node['plugin_name'];
       $function_name = $node['function_name'];
       $obj_plugin    = $this->get_plugin($plugin_name); 

       if (method_exists($obj_plugin, $function_name)) {
         call_user_func(array($obj_plugin, $function_name));

This plugin manager will be used in the file, instantiating and registering the plugins and their functions, like the example below:

 /* */
 $obj_plugin_manager = new PluginManager(); 
 //register the plugins and their functions
 foreach ($activated_plugins as $plugin) {
   $obj_plugin = new $plugin($obj_plugin_manager);

In the plugin, the functions will be registered with an attribute saying where they will be used by phpPgAdmin's core. Below an example of a simple plugin:

 class Plugin1 {
   function __construct($obj_plugin_manager) {

   function create_trail_links() {
     /* show the plugin's trail links */

   function show_tab_links() {
     /* show the plugin's tab links */

So, in determined places of phpPgAdmin, e.g. the functions that create the browser tree, trail or tabs, the plugin's function will be called as below:


This way, the plugin will 'say' to phpPgAdmin core, what are its elements that will be shown in the PPA components.

To demonstrate, I created a basic functional example.

Project Schedule

During the Google Summer of Code 2011, I will be on-line on IRC ( channels #phppgadmin, #postgresql and #gsoc available to talk. And, at least once a week, I will contact my mentor reporting what was done, what I will do in the next week, and what is preventing me from carrying out a certain activity. I will also write my activities in my blog.

If there are other projects ideas being developed at the same time, it is important that developers of these applications need to be contacted to provide their versions to run tests. But that will be defined together with my mentor and phpPgAdmin developers.

A copy of this schedule can be found at Google Calendar (with some small changes).

April 25 until May 22 (Community Bonding Period): During that period, I will be in contact to my mentor and phpPgAdmin developers, explaining more detail about the accepted proposal. I will also review my project with them to see if is not missing anything before start coding;

May 23: I start coding, creating the new basic plugin structure that will be used as example for other developers;

May 27: Meeting with the mentor, when I will show him the basic plugin architecture, and start developing the Plugin Manager;

June 3: Meeting with the mentor. Start developing the integration among the basic plugin example and the tabs and top links;

June 10: Meeting with the mentor;

June 17: Meeting with the mentor. At this date, I will start developing the integration between plugins and the trail;

June 24: Meeting with the mentor. At this date, I will start working in the integration between plugins and the navigation links;

July 1: Meeting with the mentor;

July 8: Meeting with the mentor. Finish the integration with navigation links. Start developing the integration with the action buttons;

July 11 until 15: Creation and submission of the mid-term evaluation;

July 15: Meeting with the mentor;

July 22: Meeting with the mentor. Start integrating the plugins with the browser tree;

July 29: Meeting with the mentor;

August 5: Meeting with the mentor. Finish the integration with the browser tree. Start testing and making final modifications;

August 12: Meeting with the mentor. On this day, I will stop coding, and start creating the final documentation;

August 19: Meeting with the mentor. Review of the documentation;

August 22: Finish the documentation;

August 22 until 26: Submission of the final evaluation;

Completeness Criteria

This project will be accomplished if the new Architecture Plugin:

  • Enable developers to create plugins easily having a clear documentation
  • Enable the news plugins to be added in the action buttons, browser tree, tabs, trail, navigation links and top links
  • Enable plugins to not have intrusive codes in phpPgAdmin's core
  • Have an easy way to enable and disable plugins