Programming language: Go
Tags: Utilities    
Latest version: v0.2.1

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TL;DR: See end-to-end example in go-bind-plugin-example.

go-bind-plugin is go:generate tool for building golang 1.8 plugins and generating wrappers around exported symbols (functions and variables).

What is it?

go-bind-plugin generates neat API around symbols exported by a *.so plugin built with go build -buildmode=plugin in upcoming go 1.8. plugin.Plugin holds information about exported symbols as map[string]interface{}.

go-bind-plugins uses reflection to find out actual types of symbols and generates typed API wrapping plugin with additional functionalities (like dereferencing exported variables and checking SHA256 sum).

Note: Basic usage does not require plugin sources as wrapper can be generated using only *.so file.

Why should I use it?

In example if plugin exports func AddTwoInts(a, b int) int and var BuildVersion string instead of using Plugin.Lookup directly:

plug, err := plugin.Open("plugin.so")

if err != nil {

symbol, err := plug.Lookup("AddTwoInts")
if err != nil {
  panic("AddTwoInts was not found in a plugin")

if typed, ok := symbol.(func(int, int) int); ok {
  result := typed(10, 20)
} else {
  panic("AddTwoInts has different type than exported by plugin")

symbol, err := plug.Lookup("BuildVersion")
if err != nil {
  panic("BuildVersion was not found in a plugin")

if typed, ok := symbol.(*string); ok {
} else {
  panic("BuildVersion is not a string reference")

you can just simply do:

plug, err := pluginapi.BindPluginAPI("plugin.so") // plug is *plugin_api.PluginAPI

if err != nil {

result := plug.AddTwoInts(10, 20)
fmt.Println(plug.BuildVersion) // or fmt.Println(*plug.BuildVersion) if -dereference-vars is not used

pluginapi.BindPluginAPI() ensures that plugin exports required symbols and their types are correct.


go get -u github.com/wendigo/go-bind-plugin
go-bind-plugin -help

Usage of go-bind-plugin:
        Dereference plugin variables
        Format generated output file with gofmt (default true)
        Do not export plugin variables
        Generate and return interface instead of struct (turns on -hide-vars)
  -output-name string
        Output struct name (default "PluginAPI")
  -output-package string
        Output package (can be derived from output-path) (default "main")
  -output-path string
        Output file path (default "plugin_api.go")
  -plugin-package string
        Plugin package url (as accepted by go get)
  -plugin-path string
        Path to plugin (.so file)
        Rebuild plugin on every run
        Write plugin's sha256 checksum to wrapper and validate it when loading it


//go:generate go-bind-plugin -format -plugin-package github.com/plugin_test/plug -rebuild -sha256 -dereference-vars -output-name TestPlugin -output-path tmp/plugin.go -plugin-path tmp/plugin.so -output-package pluginapi

go-bind-plugin will do following things on invocation:

  • build plugin to tmp/plugin.so (even if plugin exists it will be rebuilded) from github.com/plugin_test/plug source (must exist in $GOPATH or vendor/)
  • generate wrapper struct wrapper.TestPlugin in tmp/plugin.go
  • dereference variables in the generated wrapper
  • format generated wrapper with gofmt -s -w
  • write sha256 checksum to tmp/plugin.go that will be checked when loading plugin with pluginapi.BindTestPlugin(path string) (*TestPlugin, error)

Wrapper API example (for -output-name "PluginAPI")

BindPluginAPI(path string) (*PluginAPI, error) - loads plugin from path and wraps it with type PluginAPI struct:

  • all functions exported by the plugin are exposed as methods on struct PluginAPI
  • all variables exported by the plugin are exposed as fields on struct PluginAPI (if -dereference-vars is used fields are not references to plugin's variables)

func (*PluginAPI) String() string - provides nice textual representation of the wrapper

Wrapper as interface

When -interface is used instead of generating and returning struct interface containing all exported symbols is generated. This eases mocking and working with multiple plugins exporting the same API.

Note that -interface effectively enables -hide-vars so variables won't be exported from the plugin.

Generated code quality

Generated code passes both go vet and golint and can be formatted using gofmt -s -w. Exported symbols names are not changed in any way so names not following go naming convention will still be reported by golint as invalid.

Example generated wrapper information

Wrapper info:
    - Generated on: 2016-11-08 16:15:07.513150982 +0100 CET
    - Command: go-bind-plugin -plugin-path ./internal/test_fixtures/generated/basic_plugin/plugin.so -plugin-package ./internal/test_fixtures/basic_plugin -output-name TestWrapper -output-path ./internal/test_fixtures/generated/basic_plugin/plugin.go -output-package main -sha256 true -format true -rebuild true

Plugin info:
    - package: github.com/wendigo/go-bind-plugin/internal/test_fixtures/basic_plugin
    - sha256 sum: 55aa13402686f3200f5067604c04ce8d365e7cf2095d8278b2ff52ae26df7e6d
    - size: 1232572 bytes

Exported functions (3):
    - ReturningInt32 func() (int32)
    - ReturningStringSlice func() ([]string)
    - ReturningIntArray func() ([3]int32)

Plugin call overhead

Using -buildmode=plugin with generated wrapper seems not to add overhead when calling methods on a wrapper (creating plugin instance and loading *.so file is constant cost).

BenchmarkCallOverhead/plugin-8          30000000            58.0 ns/op         0 B/op          0 allocs/op
BenchmarkCallOverhead/plugin-8          30000000            59.3 ns/op         0 B/op          0 allocs/op
BenchmarkCallOverhead/plugin-8          30000000            54.8 ns/op         0 B/op          0 allocs/op
BenchmarkCallOverhead/native-8          20000000            59.3 ns/op         0 B/op          0 allocs/op
BenchmarkCallOverhead/native-8          20000000            59.8 ns/op         0 B/op          0 allocs/op
BenchmarkCallOverhead/native-8          20000000            59.7 ns/op         0 B/op          0 allocs/op