Plugin system overview


For RepoBee to discover a plugin and its hooks, the following conventions need to be adhered to:

  1. The PyPi package should be named repobee-<plugin>, where <plugin> is the name of the plugin.

  2. The actual Python package (i.e. the directory in which the source files are located) should be called repobee_<plugin>. In other words, replace the hyphen in the PyPi package name with an underscore.

  3. The Python module that defines the plugin’s hooks/hook classes should be name <plugin>.py.

  4. Task plugins that add command line options must prefix the option with --<plugin>. So, if the plugin exampleplug wants to add the option --ignore, then it must be called --exampleplug-ignore.

    • The reason for this is to avoid option collisions between different plugins.
    • Note that this does not apply to extension command plugins, as they do not piggyback on existing commands.

For an example plugin that follows these conventions, have a look at repobee-junit4. Granted that the plugin follows these conventions and is installed, it can be loaded like any other RepoBee plugin (see Using Existing Plugins).


There are two types of hooks in RepoBee: core hooks and extension hooks.

Core hooks

Core hooks provide core functionality for RepoBee, and always have a default implementation in repobee.ext.defaults. Providing a different plugin implementation will override this behavior, thereby changing some core part of RepoBee. In general, only one implementation of a core hook will run per invocation of RepoBee. All core hooks are defined in repobee_plug._corehooks.


Note that the default implementations in repobee.ext.defaults may simply be imported into the module. They are not necessarily defined there.

Extension hooks

Extension hooks extend the functionality of RepoBee in various ways. These are probably of most interest to most people looking to create plugins for RepoBee. Unlike the core hooks, there are no default implementations of the extension hooks, and multiple implementations can be run on each invocation of RepoBee. All extension hooks are defined in repobee_plug._exthooks.


RepoBee has a notion of a task, which is a collection of one or more interdependent functions. The purpose of all tasks is to act on repositories. For example, the built-in pylint plugin is a task whose act consists of running static analysis on all Python files in a repository. The repobee-junit4 plugin is another task plugin whose act consists of running JUnit4 unit tests on production code in the repository. Tasks can run on master repos before they are pushed to student repos, or on student repos after they have been cloned.

Extension commands

An extension command is a top level command that’s added to the RepoBee command line interface. The built-in config-wizard command is implemented as an extension command, and allows a user of RepoBee to edit the configuration file. The repobee-feedback plugin provides the issue-feedback command, which opens feedback issues in student repositories based on local text files. Extension commands are pretty awesome because they integrate seamlessly with RepoBee, can leverage some of RepoBee’s powerful CLI functionality and can do pretty much whatever they want on top of that.

Implementing hook functions

There are two ways to implement hooks: as standalone functions or as methods wrapped in a Plugin class. In the following two sections, I will briefly show both approaches. For a comprehensive guide on how to use these approaches, refer to the Creating plugins section.

Standalone hook functions

Hook functions can be implemented as standalone functions by decorating them with the repobee_hook() decorator. For example, if we wanted to implement the clone_task hook, we could do it like this:
import repobee_plug as plug

def clone_task():
    """Return a useless Task."""
    return plug.Task(act=act)

def act(path, api):
    return plug.Result(
        msg="This is a useless plugin!",

The clone_task hook is described in more detail in Creating plugins. For a complete plugin written with this approach, see the repobee-gofmt plugin.

Hook functions in a plugin class

Wrapping hook implementations in a class inheriting from Plugin is recommended way to write plugins for RepoBee that are in any way complicated. A plugin class is instantiated exactly once, and that instance then persists throughout the execution of one RepoBee command, making it a convenient way to implement plugins that require command line options or config values. The Plugin class also performs some sanity checks when a subclass is defined to make sure that all public functions have hook function names, which comes in handy if you are in the habit of misspelling stuff (aren’t we all?). Doing it this way, would look like this:
import repobee_plug as plug

PLUGIN_NAME = 'exampleplug'

class ExamplePlugin(plug.Plugin):
    """Example plugin that implements the clone_task hook."""

    def clone_task(self):
        """Return a useless Task."""
        return plug.Task(act=self._act)

    def _act(self, path, api):
        return plug.Result(
            msg="This is a useless plugin!",

Note how the clone_task function now does not have the @plug.repobee_hook decorator, that we prefixed act with an underscore to signify that it’s not a public method (there is no hook function called act, so Plugin will raise if we forget the leading underscore), and that the self argument was added to all functions. For a complete example of a plugin written with this approach, see the repobee-junit4 plugin.