Custom plugins are very much like the standard plugins offered by Staffbase which add specific functions to simplify different business scenarios. Understanding different stages of the custom plugin life cycle ensures that you are prepared to create the solution you have envisioned. In addition, developing the plugin becomes easy when you have already thought through every aspect of the different stages before starting the actual development.
The four different stages in the lifecycle of a custom plugin are:
Design of a Custom Plugin
Designing a well-thought-out custom plugin is the most important and first step towards developing a custom plugin that meets your business needs. It is also important to involve all the stakeholders of the project during this stage. This stage can be broken down further into:
1. Analysis of Requirements
Providing a solution for your users requires a thorough understanding of the business scenario you are trying to streamline. This requires gathering information around the problem you are trying to solve and analyzing how users will finally use the solution you are offering. Learn more about it here.
2. Scope Definition
Defining the scope gives more clarity to what is possible with the planned custom plugin. The scope must include aspects, such as:
- Feasibility: Ensure that the plugin you are planning to develop can function within the Staffbase environment. Learn more about it here.
- Custom Plugin Availability: Decide on details, such as for whom and in which manner the custom plugin needs to be available, such as:
- only to logged-in users or to non-logged in users
- only to your organization or available to other Staffbase customers, as well
- Development Team: You can develop plugins with your in-house team or outsource it to our partners or vendors. Staffbase has built a network of technical implementation partners and is happy to support you in finding the right partner or vendor.
- Style and theming: Decide on the style and theming of the custom plugin. Staffbase always recommends following the same style as is used throughout the rest of your employee app or intranet. This ensures a seamless integration and that the custom plugin looks and feels like any other feature within your employee app or intranet.
Tip: Consult with your Customer Success Manager on the scope and feasibility of the custom plugin you are planning to develop.
Development of a Custom Plugin
Once you have designed the custom plugin, the developer can start building it. The development involves steps, such as:
1. Meet Custom Plugin Requirements
Ensure once again that your custom plugin meets the requirements for embedded web applications and can also function on mobile devices. Learn more about it here.
2. Build Your Custom Plugin
3. Provide Staffbase With Custom Plugin Specifications
Contact Staffbase to receive a plugin specification datasheet, so that Staffbase can provide you with authorization information. You need to fill out the specifications and send it back to Staffbase. Learn more about it here.
4. Receive Authentication Parameters from Staffbase
Once you have submitted the plugin specifications, Staffbase will provide the Plugin ID and public key. Your developers must add the parameters to the code of the custom plugin to establish authenticated communication between the Staffbase server and the web host where your custom plugin is hosted. Learn more about it here.
5. Deploy Your Custom Plugin on the Staffbase Platform
Once the authentication parameters are added to the code of the plugin, your custom plugin is ready to be integrated into the Staffbase platform. Staffbase initiates the registration and activation process, which makes the custom plugin available to your organization.
Installation and Management of a Custom Plugin
This stage begins when the custom plugin is available to your organization. Once available for your organization, the custom plugin is displayed on the Plugins page in the Experience Studio. Administrators and managing editors can install the custom plugin and make them available for relevant users. Learn more about making content available using plugins, here. When a custom plugin instance is edited or deleted, the data is correspondingly updated or deleted in the host where the custom plugin web application is hosted.
New Releases of a Custom Plugin
You can release a new version of your custom plugin by adding new features or improvements and fixing bugs. When the custom plugin developer releases a new version of the web application that functions as the custom plugin, normally no changes are needed to be made on the Staffbase platform. But if the developer makes modifications to any aspects mentioned in the plugin specifications, we need to update those specifications on the Staffbase side as well, for example, modifying the URL of the custom plugin.
Tip: When planning for a major release, we recommend starting from the design stage of the life cycle. This helps you analyze the requirement and plan the release better.