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Plugin basics

Each plugin is a separate Java module (source code can be written in any JVM language), compiled into a single JAR file. The JAR file is then placed in the proper directory (e.g. compiler/, cpu/, memory/, and device/) in emuStudio installation.

In the source code, plugins are located in plugins/ subdirectory, then branched further by plugin type.

Naming conventions

Plugin names are derived from JAR file names. A naming convention defines how the name should be picked. Each plugin type has a different naming convention. General idea is that the JAR file name should say clearly what the plugin is about.

A plugin JAR file name should be in the form of:

[specific abbreviation]-[plugin type].jar

where [specific abbreviation] means some custom abbreviation of the real world “device” the plugin emulates or is part of, optionally preceded with the manufacturer (e.g. intel-8080, adm-3A, etc.). Then [plugin type] follows, but in a form, as it is shown in the following table:

Plugin type Naming convention Examples
Compiler [language]-compiler (for compiler of higher language), or as-[cpu type] (for assembler) as-8080, as-z80, brainc-compiler, ram-compiler
CPU [cpu model]-cpu, or [computer type]-cpu 8080-cpu, z80-cpu, ram-cpu, brainduck-cpu
Memory [some feature]-mem, or [computer type]-mem byte-mem, ram-mem, rasp-mem
Device [device model]-[device type] 88-dcdd, 88-sio, adm3a-terminal, simh-pseudo, vt100-terminal

Plugin names can contain digits, small and capital letters (regex: [a-zA-Z0-9]+). Capital letters shall be used only just for word separation (e.g. zilogZ80).

Plugin structure

A plugin must contain a public class which is considered as plugin root. The plugin root is automatically found, then instantiated by emuStudio, then assigned into a virtual computer and used.

A class which is to be plugin root, must:

A sample plugin root class might look like this:

@PluginRoot(type = PLUGIN_TYPE.CPU, title = "Sample CPU emulator")
public class SamplePlugin implements CPU {

    public SamplePlugin(long pluginId, ApplicationApi emustudio, PluginSettings settings) {


If more classes implement some plugin interface, just one of them has to be annotated with PluginRoot. If there are more classes like this, the plugin might not work correctly.

The constructor parameters have the following meaning:

  • pluginId is a unique plugin identification, assigned by emuStudio. Some operations require it as an input argument.
  • emustudio is a runtime API implementation, provided by emuStudio application, to be used by plugins.
  • settings are plugin’s settings. A plugin can use it for reading/writing its custom or emuStudio settings. Updated settings are saved immediately in the configuration file, in the same thread.

Third-party dependencies

Each plugin can depend on third-party libraries (or other plugins). In this case, the dependencies should be either bundled with the plugin, or the location should be present in the Class-Path attribute in the plugin’s Manifest file.

Some libraries are preloaded by emuStudio and those shouldn’t be included in plugin JAR file:

Plugins that want to use the dependencies above should specify them as “provided” in the project.

Incorporating a plugin in emuStudio

A new plugin is another Gradle submodule, which should be “registered” in settings.gradle file.

If a plugin is part of a new computer, the new configuration should be created (in TOML format) and put in application/src/main/files/config directory.

Plugin can have static example files, or shell scripts. Plugin must copy them into build directory, e.g. plugins/compiler/as-8080/build/libs/examples or plugins/compiler/as-8080/build/libs/scripts. Then, in application/build.gradle are sections marked with // Examples or // Scripts comments:

// Examples
["as-8080", "as-z80", "as-ssem", "brainc-brainduck", "ramc-ram", "raspc-rasp"].collect { compiler ->
    from(examples(":plugins:compiler:$compiler")) {
        into "examples/$compiler"

// Scripts
["as-8080", "as-z80", "as-ssem", "brainc-brainduck", "ramc-ram", "raspc-rasp"].collect { compiler ->
    from(scripts(":plugins:compiler:$compiler")) {
        into "bin"
["88-dcdd"].collect { device ->
    from(scripts(":plugins:device:$device")) {
        into "bin"

It is necessary to put your plugin name in the particular collection.

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