Easier Plugin Development

June 28 Bullet_white By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

Your voice has been loud and clear: custom Scout plugins were being treated as second class citizens, lacking many of the big wins you receive with plugins from our directory.

We’re all for equal rights at Scout – your custom plugins are now getting fair treatment.

First, update to the latest Scout agent (5.3.3 at this time):

gem install scout

The latest agent adds support for two key features: plugin options and self-service private plugins.

Options Support

Previously only plugins listed in our directory supported plugin options like these:

Now, your custom installed plugins can use options too. Just embed your options information in the plugin. After the plugin reports, the options will be visible in the Scout UI.

Read up on plugin options

Self-Service Private Plugins

The core of Scout is the plugin system: when you install a plugin from the directory, you don’t need to manually login to your servers to install the plugin. This drastically reduces the effort required to monitor your system and makes it easier to keep things consistent across many servers.

To support this, every plugin listed in our plugin directory is signed with our private key. The agent has the public key and uses it to verify that plugins sent down to your server are authentic.

Previously, there was a downside to this key system: you needed to email us your private plugins and wait for us to sign them. While our approval process was significantly faster than the Apple App Store, it still involved more communication than you liked. Now, adding your own private plugins is self-service.

Version 5.3.3 of the agent supports an account public key. This means you can do the following:

  • Generate a private-public key pair
  • Place the public key on your servers
  • Add the private plugin. You’ll be prompted to run a command to sign the plugin.

After these steps, you can install the plugin just like any of the plugins in our directory: through the Scout UI. You’ll only need to SSH onto your servers once (to install the public key). After that, you’ll do everything from your development computer regardless of how many private plugins you create and update.

Read up on private plugins

A big thanks goes out to everyone that gave us feedback on this process. At Scout, we’ve always thought the biggest problem with monitoring is simply the pain involved in implementing it. This should make developing your own plugins a lot smoother. As always, don’t hesitate to give your feedback on ways we can make developing plugins easier.

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