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0. Plugins
There are a multitude of plugin options available in Wireshark that allow to
extend its functionality without changing the source code itself. Using the
available APIs gives you the means to do this.
Currently plugin APIs are available for dissectors (epan), capture file types
(wiretap) and media decoders (codecs). This README focuses primarily on
dissector plugins; most of the descriptions are applicable to the other plugin
types as well.
1. Dissector plugins
Writing a "plugin" dissector is not very different from writing a standard
one. In fact all of the functions described in README.dissector can be
used in the plugins exactly as they are used in standard dissectors.
(Note, however, that not all OSes on which Wireshark runs can support
If you've chosen "foo" as the name of your plugin (typically, that would
be a short name for your protocol, in all lower case), the following
instructions tell you how to implement it as a plugin. All occurrences
of "foo" below should be replaced by the name of your plugin.
2. The directory for the plugin, and its files
The plugin should be placed in a new plugins/epan/foo directory which should
contain at least the following files:
The README can be brief but it should provide essential information relevant
to developers and users. Optionally AUTHORS and ChangeLog files can be added.
Optionally you can add your own
And of course the source and header files for your dissector.
Examples of these files can be found in plugins/epan/gryphon.
2.1 CMakeLists.txt
For your plugins/epan/foo/CMakeLists.txt file, see the corresponding file in
plugins/epan/gryphon. Replace all occurrences of "gryphon" in those files
with "foo" and add your source files to the DISSECTOR_SRC variable.
Your plugins/epan/foo/ is the Windows resource template file used
to add the plugin specific information as resources to the DLL.
If not provided the plugins/ file will be used.
3. Changes to existing Wireshark files
There are two ways to add your plugin dissector to the build, as a custom
extension or as a permanent addition. The custom extension is easy to
configure, but won't be used for inclusion in the distribution if that's
your goal. Setting up the permanent addition is somewhat more involved.
3.1 Custom extension
For CMake builds, either pass the custom plugin dir on the CMake generation
step command line:
CMake ... -DCUSTOM_PLUGIN_SRC_DIR="plugins/epan/foo"
or copy the top-level file CMakeListsCustom.txt.example to CMakeListsCustom.txt
(also in the top-level source dir) and edit so that CUSTOM_PLUGIN_SRC_DIR is
set() to the relative path of your plugin, e.g.
set(CUSTOM_PLUGIN_SRC_DIR plugins/epan/foo)
and re-run the CMake generation step.
To build the plugin, run your normal Wireshark build step.
If you want to add the plugin to your own Windows installer add a text
file named custom_plugins.txt to the packaging/nsis directory, with a
"File" statement for NSIS:
File "${STAGING_DIR}\plugins\${MAJOR_VERSION}.${MINOR_VERSION}\epan\foo.dll"
3.2 Permanent addition
In order to be able to permanently add a plugin take the following steps.
You will need to change the following files:
You might also want to search your Wireshark development directory for
occurrences of an existing plugin name, in case this document is out of
date with the current directory structure. For example,
grep -rl gryphon .
could be used from a shell prompt.
3.2.1 Changes to CMakeLists.txt
Add your plugin (in alphabetical order) to the PLUGIN_SRC_DIRS:
3.2.2 Changes to the installers
If you want to include your plugin in an installer you have to add lines
in the NSIS installer wireshark.nsi file. Changes to packaging/nsis/wireshark.nsi
Add the relative path of your plugin DLL (in alphabetical order) to the
list of "File" statements in the "Dissector Plugins" section:
File "${STAGING_DIR}\plugins\${MAJOR_VERSION}.${MINOR_VERSION}\epan\ethercat.dll"
File "${STAGING_DIR}\plugins\${MAJOR_VERSION}.${MINOR_VERSION}\epan\foo.dll"
File "${STAGING_DIR}\plugins\${MAJOR_VERSION}.${MINOR_VERSION}\epan\gryphon.dll"
File "${STAGING_DIR}\plugins\${MAJOR_VERSION}.${MINOR_VERSION}\epan\irda.dll" Other installers
The PortableApps installer copies plugins from the build directory
and should not require configuration.
4. Development and plugins on Unix
Plugins make some aspects of development easier and some harder.
The first thing is that you'll have to run cmake once more to setup your
build environment.
The good news is that if you are working on a single plugin then you will
find recompiling the plugin MUCH faster than recompiling a dissector and
then linking it back into Wireshark. Use "make plugins" to compile just
your plugins.
The bad news is that Wireshark will not use the plugins unless the plugins
are installed in one of the places it expects them to find.
One way of dealing with this problem is to set an environment variable
Another way to deal with this problem is to set up a working root for
wireshark, say in $HOME/build/root and build Wireshark to install
cmake -D CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=${HOME}/build/root && make install
then subsequent rebuilds/installs of your plugin can be accomplished
by going to the plugins/foo directory and running
make install
5. Update "old style" plugins
5.1 How to update an "old style" plugin (since Wireshark 2.5)
Plugins need exactly four visible symbols: plugin_version, plugin_want_major,
plugin_want_minor and plugin_register. Each plugin is either a codec plugin,
libwiretap plugin or libwireshark plugin and the library will call
"plugin_register" after loading the plugin. "plugin_register" in turn calls all
the hooks necessary to enable the plugin. So if you had two function like so:
WS_DLL_PUBLIC void plugin_register(void);
WS_DLL_PUBLIC void plugin_reg_handoff(void);
void plugin_register(void) {...};
void plugin_reg_handoff(void) {...};
You'll have to rewrite it as:
WS_DLL_PUBLIC void plugin_register(void);
static void proto_register_foo(void) {...};
static void proto_reg_handoff_foo(void) {...};
void plugin_register(void)
static proto_plugin plugin_foo;
plugin_foo.register_protoinfo = proto_register_foo;
plugin_foo.register_handoff = proto_reg_handoff_foo;
See doc/plugins.example for an example.
5.2 How to update an "old style" plugin (using plugin_register and
plugin_reg_handoff functions).
The plugin registration has changed with the extension of the build
scripts. These now generate the additional code needed for plugin
encapsulation in plugin.c. When using the new style build scripts,
strips the parts outlined below:
o Remove the following include statements:
#include <gmodule.h>
#include "moduleinfo.h"
o Removed the definition:
WS_DLL_PUBLIC_DEF gchar version[] = VERSION;
o Move relevant code from the blocks and delete these functions:
This will leave a clean dissector source file without plugin specifics.
5.3 How to update an "old style" plugin (using plugin_init function)
The plugin registering has changed between 0.10.9 and 0.10.10; everyone
is encouraged to update their plugins as outlined below:
o Remove following include statements from all plugin sources:
#include "plugins/plugin_api.h"
#include "plugins/plugin_api_defs.h"
o Remove the init function.
6 How to plugin related interface options
To demonstrate the functionality of the plugin interface options, a
demonstration plugin exists (pluginifdemo). To build it using cmake, the
build option ENABLE_PLUGIN_IFDEMO has to be enabled.
6.1 Implement a plugin GUI menu
A plugin (as well as built-in dissectors) may implement a menu within
Wireshark to be used to trigger options, start tools, open Websites, ...
This menu structure is built using the plugin_if.h interface and its
corresponding functions.
The menu items all call a callback provided by the plugin, which takes
a pointer to the menuitem entry as data. This pointer may be used to
provide userdata to each entry. The pointer must utilize WS_DLL_PUBLIC_DEF
and has the following structure:
menu_cb(ext_menubar_gui_type gui_type, gpointer gui_data,
gpointer user_data _U_)
... Do something ...
The menu entries themselves are generated with the following code structure:
ext_menu_t * ext_menu, *os_menu = NULL;
ext_menu = ext_menubar_register_menu (
<your_proto_item>, "Some Menu Entry", TRUE );
ext_menubar_add_entry(ext_menu, "Test Entry 1",
"This is a tooltip", menu_cb, <user_data>);
ext_menubar_add_entry(ext_menu, "Test Entry 2",
NULL, menu_cb, <user_data>);
os_menu = ext_menubar_add_submenu(ext_menu, "Sub Menu" );
ext_menubar_add_entry(os_menu, "Test Entry A",
NULL, menu_cb, <user_data>);
ext_menubar_add_entry(os_menu, "Test Entry B",
NULL, menu_cb, <user_data>);
For a more detailed information, please refer to plugin_if.h
6.2 Implement interactions with the main interface
Due to memory constraints on most platforms, plugin functionality cannot be
called directly from a DLL context. Instead special functions will be used,
which will implement certain options for plugins to utilize.
The following methods exist so far:
/* Applies the given filter string as display filter */
WS_DLL_PUBLIC void plugin_if_apply_filter
(const char * filter_string, gboolean force);
/* Saves the given preference to the main preference storage */
WS_DLL_PUBLIC void plugin_if_save_preference
(const char * pref_module, const char * pref_key, const char * pref_value);
/* Jumps to the given frame number */
WS_DLL_PUBLIC void plugin_if_goto_frame(guint32 framenr);
6.3 Implement a plugin specific toolbar
A toolbar may be registered which allows implementing an interactive user
interaction with the main application. The toolbar is generated using the following
ext_toolbar_t * tb = ext_toolbar_register_toolbar("Plugin Interface Demo Toolbar");
This registers a toolbar, which will be shown underneath "View->Additional Toolbars" in
the main menu, as well as the popup action window when right-clicking on any other tool-
or menubar.
It behaves identically to the existing toolbars and can be hidden as well as defined to
appear specific to selected profiles. The name with which it is being shown is the given
name in this function call.
6.3.1 Register elements for the toolbar
To add items to the toolbar, 4 different types of elements do exist.
* BOOLEAN - a checkbox to select / unselect
* BUTTON - a button to click
* STRING - a text field with validation options
* SELECTOR - a dropdown selection field
To add an element to the toolbar, the following function is being used:
ext_toolbar_add_entry( ext_toolbar_t * parent, ext_toolbar_item_t type, const gchar *label,
const gchar *defvalue, const gchar *tooltip, gboolean capture_only, GList * value_list,
gboolean is_required, const gchar * regex, ext_toolbar_action_cb callback, gpointer user_data)
parent_bar - the parent toolbar for this entry, to be registered by ext_toolbar_register_toolbar
name - the entry name (the internal used one) for the item, used to send updates to the element
label - the entry label (the displayed name) for the item, visible to the user
defvalue - the default value for the toolbar element
- EXT_TOOLBAR_BOOLEAN - 1 is for a checked element, 0 is unchecked
- EXT_TOOLBAR_STRING - Text already entered upon initial display
tooltip - a tooltip to be displayed on mouse-over
capture_only - entry is only active, if a capture is active
callback - the action which will be invoked after the item is activated
value_list - a non-null list of values created by ext_toolbar_add_val(), if the item type
valid_regex - a validation regular expression for EXT_TOOLBAR_STRING
is_required - a zero entry for EXT_TOOLBAR_STRING is not allowed
user_data - a user defined pointer, which will be added to the toolbar callback
In case of the toolbar type EXT_TOOLBAR_SELECTOR a value list has to be provided. This list
is generated using ext_toolbar_add_val():
GList * entries = 0;
entries = ext_toolbar_add_val(entries, "1", "ABCD", FALSE );
entries = ext_toolbar_add_val(entries, "2", "EFG", FALSE );
entries = ext_toolbar_add_val(entries, "3", "HIJ", TRUE );
entries = ext_toolbar_add_val(entries, "4", "KLM", FALSE );
6.3.2 Callback for activation of an item
If an item has been activated, the provided callback is being triggered.
void toolbar_cb(gpointer toolbar_item, gpointer item_data, gpointer user_data)
For EXT_TOOLBAR_BUTTON the callback is triggered upon a click on the button, for
EXT_TOOLBAR_BOOLEAN and EXT_TOOLBAR_SELECTOR the callback is triggered with every change
of the selection.
For EXT_TOOLBAR_STRING either the return key has to be hit or the apply button pressed.
The parameters of the callback are defined as follows:
toolbar_item - an element of the type ext_toolbar_t * representing the item that has been
item_data - the data of the item during activation. The content depends on the item type:
- EXT_TOOLBAR_BUTTON - the entry is null
- EXT_TOOLBAR_BOOLEAN - the entry is 0 if the checkbox is unchecked and 1 if it is checked
- EXT_TOOLBAR_STRING - a string representing the context of the textbox. Only valid strings
are being passed, it can be safely assumed, that an applied regular expression has
been checked.
- EXT_TOOLBAR_SELECTOR - the value of the selected entry
user_data - the data provided during element registration
6.3.3 Sending updates to the toolbar items
A plugin may send updates to the toolbar entry, using one of the following methods. The parameter
silent defines, if the registered toolbar callback is triggered by the update or not.
void ext_toolbar_update_value(ext_toolbar_t * entry, gpointer data, gboolean silent)
- EXT_TOOLBAR_BUTTON, EXT_TOOLBAR_STRING - the displayed text (on the button or in the textbox)
are being changed, in that case data is expected to be a string
- EXT_TOOLBAR_BOOLEAN - the checkbox value is being changed, to either 0 or 1, in both cases
data is expected to be an integer sent by GINT_TO_POINTER(n)
- EXT_TOOLBAR_SELECTOR - the display text to be changed. If no element exists with this text,
nothing will happen
void ext_toolbar_update_data(ext_toolbar_t * entry, gpointer data, gboolean silent)
- EXT_TOOLBAR_SELECTOR - change the value list to the one provided with data. Attention! this
does not change the list stored within the item just the one in the displayed combobox
void ext_toolbar_update_data_by_index(ext_toolbar_t * entry, gpointer data, gpointer value,
gboolean silent)
- EXT_TOOLBAR_SELECTOR - change the display text for the entry with the provided value. Both
data and value must be gchar * pointer.
Ed Warnicke <>
Guy Harris <>
Derived and expanded from the plugin section of README.developers
which was originally written by
James Coe <>
Gilbert Ramirez <>
Jeff Foster <>
Olivier Abad <>
Laurent Deniel <>
Jaap Keuter <>