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Windows Plugins

This section provides details for how to implement a plugin for use in a Windows Store app for Windows 8.1 phone and desktop, and Universal Windows Platform (Windows 10+). Before reading this, see Create your first plugin for an overview of the plugin's structure and its common JavaScript interface. This section continues to demonstrate the sample echo plugin that communicates from the Cordova webview to the native platform and back.

Creating a Windows Plugin in JavaScript

Windows Cordova plugins are essentially a thin wrapper around existing WinJS provided functions, but assuming you will want to define your JS common interface for multiple devices, you will typically have one JS file that provides the API:

// inside file echoplugin.js
var EchoPlugin = {
    // the echo function calls successCallback with the provided text in strInput
    // if strInput is empty, it will call the errorCallback
    echo:function(successCallback, errorCallback, strInput) {
        cordova.exec(successCallback,errorCallback,"EchoPlugin","echo",[strInput]);
    }
}

The cordova.exec function is defined differently on every platform, this is because each platform has it's own way of communicating between the application js code, and the native wrapper code. But in the case of Windows, there is no native wrapper, so the exec call is there for consistency. So even though you could write the Windows specific code as a part of plugin's common JS code directly, this is not recommended and plugin authors should use the same exec API for Windows as for other platforms. This way the plugin API becomes consistent and you can also take advantage of any parameter checking, or other common code provided by developers who were working on other platforms.

On Windows, cordova provides a proxy that you can use to register an object that will handle all cordova.exec calls to an API. So in our case, we will assume that the code in echoplugin.js is handling cross platform relevant JavaScript, and we can simply write a proxy for Windows.

// in file echoplugin.js
window.echo = function(str, callback) {
    cordova.exec(callback, function(err) {
        callback('Nothing to echo.');
    }, "Echo", "echo", [str]);
};
// in file echopluginProxy.js
cordova.commandProxy.add("Echo",{
    echo:function(successCallback,errorCallback,strInput) {
        if(!strInput || !strInput.length) {
            errorCallback("Error, something was wrong with the input string. =>" + strInput);
        }
        else {
            successCallback(strInput + "echo");
        }
    }
});

The echoplugin.js file will forward the echo function call to this proxy through the cordova.exec command and execute this implementation.

The plugin.xml file will have the settings required for our plugin. In this case, we want to add our echoplugin.js file in the www directory and the echopluginProxy.js file inside the windows source code of our application. Details of these elements can be found in the Plugin.xml reference.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<plugin xmlns="http://apache.org/cordova/ns/plugins/1.0"
    id="echoplugin"
    version="0.1.0">

    <js-module src="www/echoplugin.js" name="echoplugin">
        <clobbers target="window.echoplugin" />
    </js-module>

    <!-- windows -->
    <platform name="windows">
        <js-module src="src/windows/echopluginProxy.js" name="EchoProxy">
            <merges target="" />
        </js-module>
    </platform>

    <!-- other platforms -->

</plugin>

This gives us a working Windows JavaScript plugin that uses a common file ( echoplugin.js ) and uses a proxy to provide the Windows only portion of implementation ( echopluginProxy.js ). So how do we add native/managed code to this? Well we are going to start the same, the only difference will be what we do inside in echopluginProxy methods.

Creating a Windows Plugin in C++ or managed code.

In Windows, Javascript authored apps are able to interop with native (C++) and managed code (C#, VB) by creating a Windows runtime component. You can learn the basics here and checkout more details in guides on MSDN:

When you create your Windows Runtime Component, any class that is defined as public ref class sealed is considered an 'activatable class' and will be callable from JavaScript.

// in your header file .h
namespace EchoRuntimeComponent
{
    public ref class EchoPluginRT sealed
    {
        public:
        static Platform::String^ Echo(Platform::String^ input);
    }
}

// in the implementation file .cpp
using namespace EchoRuntimeComponent;
using namespace Platform;

Platform::String^ EchoPluginRT::Echo(Platform::String^ input)
{
    if(input->IsEmpty())
    {
        return "Error: input string is empty.";
    }
    else
    {
        return input->ToString() + "echo";
    }
}

Now in order for us to call the native code, we use the namespace, classname, and lowerCamelCase the method we are calling.

var res = EchoRuntimeComponent.EchoPluginRT.echo("boom");

Moving this to our echopluginProxy.js file, we get:

// in file echopluginProxy.js
cordova.commandProxy.add("EchoPlugin",{
    echo:function(successCallback, errorCallback, strInput) {
        var res = EchoRuntimeComponent.EchoPluginRT.echo(strInput);
        if(res.indexOf("Error") == 0) {
            errorCallback(res);
        }
        else {
            successCallback(res);
        }
    }
});

And that's it, we have an end to end C++ backed js callable plugin for use in Apache Cordova Windows!

Considerations

  • The callback is typically async, so calling the callback right away is probably not expected by the caller. In practice, if the call is not async, you should at least use a javascript timeout to force the callback to be called asynchronously.
  • Activatable classes can be used to do event dispatching, async callbacks, passing your own object types, arrays, collections, overloaded methods and much more. Refer to Creating Windows Runtime Components in C++ for details.

Defining your plugin in plugin.xml

Now that we have a working plugin, we need to revisit the plugin definition from earlier so we can publish it. We can now add the runtime component as a framework, through the <framework> tag inside our platfrom settings. Note that the output type of a WindowsRuntimeComponent can be either .winmd or .dll

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<plugin xmlns="http://apache.org/cordova/ns/plugins/1.0"
    id="echoplugin"
    version="0.2.0">

    <js-module src="www/echoplugin.js" name="echoplugin">
        <clobbers target="window.echoplugin" />
    </js-module>

    <!-- windows -->
    <platform name="windows">
        <js-module src="src/windows/echopluginProxy.js" name="EchoProxy">
            <merges target="" />
        </js-module>
        <framework src="src/windows/EchoRuntimeComponent.winmd" custom="true"/>
    </platform>

    <!-- other platforms -->
</plugin>

That's it, you now have a distributable plugin that you can share with the world!

© 2012–2017 The Apache Software Foundation
Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.
https://cordova.apache.org/docs/en/7.x/guide/platforms/win8/plugin.html