Plug-in (computing)

A plug -in [ plʌgɪn ] (often Plugin, . Of engl to plug in " plug in, connect ", German as " expansion module " ) is a software module that can be discovered and incorporated by a software application during their term to their to extend functionality. The term is sometimes used as a synonym for add-on.

Function of a plug-in

Software manufacturers often define interfaces to their products ( plug- ins) can be programmed for these software products with the help of third party extensions. Plug -ins follow this in general the pattern of inversion of control.

In rare cases, plug -in interfaces have become a standard. For example, a scanner is usually a plug-in that works via the TWAIN interface with most popular image editing programs.

Widespread examples of plug-ins are some of the Flash Player or the Java plug -in for multiple web browsers. The first programs, plug- ins support, are likely Apple's HyperCard and QuarkXPress quarks ( plug-ins are called there XTensions ), both of which came on the market in 1987. Many plug-ins are also available for the database program FileMaker or layout program InDesign.

In games there are so-called mods, with which one (assuming knowledge) can develop their own gameplay using the respective game engine. Such mods can be construed as plug-ins but for the most part no more.

Audio plug -ins

For software for audio editing and music production are comparable to the plug-ins with the effects loop. Buys and integrating in real studio new hardware, so to install a plug-in in the virtual studio. Countless providers of such software modules to meet several popular host applications that can run on two platforms (Mac and Windows PC). From a chaos of proprietary interfaces, the standard TDM, AU and VST developed by a plug-in evolution. Native plug-ins use the computing power of the CPU of the computer powered plug-ins need additional DSP cards. Meanwhile, some manufacturers have also started to outsource the optional features of their programs, even in plug-ins. This has the advantage that it can functions it does not need to turn off and thereby makes it faster and more stable for the user. Even under Linux, there is a standard interface, the Linux Audio Developers Simple Plugin Api ( LADSPA ), and now also the successor LV2.

Graphics plug-ins

Image editing programs in a plug- in interface, which is mostly a program folder, expand with graphics filters. Thus, numerous functions can be added, such as effects of varying the color and pattern. Also vector graphic programs and 3D programs offer such expansion.

Browser plug -ins

Web browsers, the function of the plug- ins from other programs is different: a Web browser plug -in is a program that extends the functionality of web browsers.

The browser can handle with the help of plug-ins data on websites that are not supported in browser typical file formats (HTML, JavaScript, etc. ) are present, such as Streaming-Video-/Audio-Formate, applets, PDF or Flash ( swf). Users can not access this content, if you installed the appropriate one for your browser and your operating system plugin.

  • The uniform Netscape API ensures that a plug-in will work in most major browsers. Exception is the Internet Explorer ( there called add- ons ) ActiveX is used for its plug-ins.
  • So-called Netscape plug -ins provide in sites embedded media (such as animations, video or music ), which can not display the web browser itself. But add (due to the interoperable API) No new functionality added to the browser. Exception are again specific to the Internet Explorer add- ons, which may also contain browser extensions.
  • Since the normal plug -in architecture is only suitable for displaying embedded in websites content and does not allow for program modifications, most browsers support another program interface. This browser additives but, to avoid confusion, not called plug-ins, but extensions.
  • Browser plug- ins, which are based on the Netscape interface, are basically browser- but not operating system independent. So do not work plug-ins for Windows in browsers on other operating systems such as Mac OS or Linux. ( Add- ons for Internet Explorer are reason alone, tied to an operating system, because this browser is available for Windows only. )

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