Add-ons (Develop)

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This page gives instructions for developing Freeplane add-ons.

Freeplane is built from modules called "plugins" like the Scripting, Formula or LaTeX plugin, ... Add-ons are a more light-weight extension mechanism than plugins. There are several add-ons that don't need any programming know-how, but depending on the purpose of your add-on you might have to write scripts. Scripts can be organized in a special lib where they are compiled automatically when Freeplane is run, see wiki.

Add-ons are installed in the Freeplane user directory (see Tools > Open user directory). They may contain any number of scripts and Zip archives which are unpacked on installation. Combinations of scripts and Zips are especially interesting since they enable you to package scripts with required libraries/JARs/class files. For instance it's possible to bundle some Groovy scripts for creating diagrams with the JFreechart library - so there's no need to download and install the JFreechart libraries anymore. Another applications are custom Java libraries that provide additional functionality for use in formulas. See Adding JARs and class files on how to handle these cases.

Note: You will find th most current documentation of the add-on file format as comments in the add-on map itself after it has been updated by the "Check Add-on" tool.



Install developer tools

Update to the most recent Freeplane version and install the Developer Tools from the Add-ons page (follow the installation instructions there). The add-on provides scripts that relieves you from most of the tedious work. If you experience any problems with it in the future first check if you actually have the most recent add-on version installed.

The add-on functions are available in: Tools > Developer tools

Editors, Develoment Environments

If you are considering to create scripts as part of your add-on you it's advisable to set up an integrated scripting environment. If you have 250 MB spare disk space do it. - It will pay-off soon.

Steps towards your own add-on

The goal of the example add-on is to put:

  1. an existing script myCoolScript.groovy in <freeplaneuserdir>/script/myCoolScript.groovy; and
  2. an icon mycoolicon.png in <freeplaneuserdir>/icons/mycoolicon.png.

The steps to follow are:

  1. In Freeplane create a new empty map by Ctrl+n.
  2. Invoke Tools > Developer Tools > Build add-on. You will be asked for the name of your add-on. Answer My Cool Add-on
  3. Look through the messages in the info box that is shown if everything looks alright. The name attribute of the root node will be myCoolAddOn. This is the identifying technical name of the add-on that is usually used as a file name, for menu locations and translation keys and so on. The node text My Cool Add-on is the English name/translation of the add-on.
  4. Set the version attribute of the root node to v0.1 and fill the other attributes of the root node (only freeplaneVersionTo is optional).
  5. Write an initial description of the add-on as a child node of the description node.
  6. Create a new directory somewhere with the technical name of the add-on, myCoolAddOn.
  7. Save the new map to myCoolAddOn/
  8. Copy or move myCoolScript.groovy to myCoolAddOn/scripts/myCoolScript.groovy.
  9. In the map create a new subnode of the scripts node with name myCoolScript.groovy.
  10. Copy mycoolicon.png to zips/icons/mycoolicon.png.
  11. In the map create a new subnode of the zips node with name icons.
  12. Invoke Tools > Developer Tools > Build add-on again. This will add the required attributes of the script node and proposes proper deinstall rules (just accept them when you are asked for it).
  13. Fill the attributes of the myCoolScript.groovy node. The notes on the scripts node will help you to find the right attribute values. See also the section about menuLocation below.
  14. Save the map.
  15. Invoke Tools > Developer Tools > Package add-on for publication. This will create the file which can be installed via Tools > Scripts > Install Add-on (or via Tools > Add-ons).

Before publishing your add-on read all notes in the add-on map. (They are meant for add-on developers, not for users since users are not expected to read an add-on package.) The notes should guide you to add all missing information. Carefully revise the defaults that the Build add-on script has entered.

Script configuration

This is a bit tricky since the script configuration consists of quite a lot attributes, some of them with a strong relation to translations and to menu configuration. For most questions the notes on the scripts node will be sufficient as a documentation.


A menu location is the menu or submenu into which the new menu item for the script will be put into.

The Freeplane menus (main menu, context menu, menu for applets and file browser) are configured via XML files. It helps a lot if you get an understanding how the structure in this file relates to the actual menu. The most relevant menus for scripts are configured through mindmapmodemenu.xml. To inspect it select Download file and load the file in your web browser. To get an overview over its structure fold/unfold the nodes. You see that the "file" submenu is a sub node of the "menu_bar" menu_category which defines the main menu. (There're also definitions for context menus: "map_popup", "node_popup" and the "main_toolbar"). A menu location is a path that starts with a root menu_category, e.g.


For some paths there are aliases/shortcuts. These are defined as "menu_key" attribute of a menu_submenu node, e.g.


which is an alias for


Note that you can define menuLocations that do not exist in the menu already. If you do that you have to make sure that for every submenu level there's a translation for its name. Here's an example from the Edit Goodies add-on:


This creates a new submenu below the Edit menu. From Freeplane v1.2.10_5 on this only requires the definition of a translation for


("addons." could have been omitted but leave it there to avoid naming collisions.)

More about the configuration of menus can be found on the wiki page Menus and commands.

Adding JARs and class files

An add-on map may contain any number of nodes containing binary files (normally .jar files) which are automatically added to the add-on's classpath if you place them under the "lib" node.

  • The immediate child nodes contain the name of the file, e.g. 'mysql-connector-java-5.1.25.jar'). Put the file into a 'lib' subdirectory of the add-on base directory.
  • The child nodes of these nodes contain the actual files.
  • Any lib file will be extracted in <installationbase>/<addonname>/lib.
  • The files will be processed in the sequence as seen in the map.


Add-ons can be translated. If you used the "Build add-on" script from the "Developer tools" add-on to create your add-on, it created a "translations" branch and an "en" node for your add-on. The following keys are mandatory:

- 'addons.${name}' for the add-on's name - 'addons.${name}.description' for the description, e.g. in the add-on overview dialog (not necessary for English) - 'addons.${name}.<scriptname>' for the menuTitleKey attribute of each script which is used as the menu title.

Add-on developers can define more messages at their will and use them via textUtils.getText("addons.myAddon.someAdditionalMessageKey"). Include the add-on name to avoid clashes with keys that Freeplane uses for itself.

Adding new languages

- Duplicate the "en" node under "translations" and rename it to your locale (e.g. "fr", "de", "ru", ...). - Edit the translations. - Don't forget to send the file/translation node to the add-on author!

Note that if the translations contain non-ASCII characters you have to "Java-encode" them before installation. The releaseAddOn.groovy script from the Developer Tools take care of that on release. If you don't have the sources of an add-on and need to patch the installation package you have to use the "encodeTranslations.groovy" script from the Developer Tools (since version 0.9.16) or from here.

Add-ons may have their own preferences

If you have properties/variables that should be configurable by the user you can extend the option panel under Tools->Preferences. Let's assume the plugin needs the variables

  • my_addon_server_url
  • my_addon_timeout_sec

You have to consider the following nodes in the add-on source map:


This is a complete, syntactically correct XML string that is constructed like the preferences.xml files that are part of Freeplane. (There is one main file, one of the Scripting plugin and one of the Formula plugin.) For our purpose we need (see the previous links for extensive examples):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
		<tab name="plugins">
			<separator name="myaddon">
				<string name="my_addon_server_url" />
				<number name="my_addon_timeout_sec" min="0" />

This will place a new block for the new add-on in the "Plugins" tab.

Some other types to use are:

  <number name="my_addon_timeout_sec" min="0" max="1000" />
  <number name="my_addon_timeout_sec" />
  <boolean name="myAddon_myBoolean"/>

All preference variables should have a default value so the "" node needs two attributes:
my_addon_timeout_sec 15

Unfortunately it leads to an error during the creation of the add-on if you enter an URL up to Freeplane version 1.2.20. Workaround: Add a single quote in front the URL to avoid it being parsed and remove the space by manually editing the .mm file.

Translation of preference entries

You have to add translations for the preferences block ("separator") and for each variable. For preferences the key is the variable name prefixed by "OptionPanel." For messages which are not preferences the variable is the key only:

OptionPanel.separator.myaddon My add-on
OptionPanel.my_addon_server_url Server URL
OptionPanel.my_addon_timeout_sec Timeout[seconds]
my_addon_message_text ERROR: some message text

Access the variables

Here's how you access the variables set in the OptionPanel in scripts (second parameter are default values if the value should be null):

 def timeout = config.getIntProperty('my_addon_timeout_sec', 15)
 def url = config.getProperty('my_addon_server_url', '')

See FreeplaneScriptBaseClass.ConfigProperties in the scripting API documentation for details.

Variables which hold a translation of e.g. a message text can be accessed in a similar way:

 def static textUtils= new org.freeplane.core.util.TextUtils()
 def myMessage=textUtils.getText('my_addon_message_text', 'ERROR: example message')

In scripts textUltils is a global parameter, hence the first rule is redundant. myMessage returns its text in the current language (translation).


Once you are done with a new add-on you can create a package for publication via Tools > Developer Tools > Package add-on for publication. If this succeeds you can actually publish it, see the How to publish add-ons page. - Don't miss the information on the add-on updater there!

Worked out example

See scriptlib for a worked out example. It also contains some generic scripts and illustrates adding Help to your script.

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