Plugin API

Plugins can affect the behaviour of Tutor at multiple levels. First, plugins can define new services with their Docker images, settings and the right initialisation commands. To do so you will have to define custom config, patches, hooks and templates. Then, plugins can also extend the CLI by defining their own commands.


The config attribute is used to modify existing and add new configuration parameters:

  • config["add"] are key/values that should be added to the user-specific config.yml configuration. Add there passwords, secret keys and other values that do not have a default value.

  • config["defaults"] are default key/values for this plugin. These values will not be added to the config.yml user file unless users override them manually with tutor config save --set ....

  • config["set"] are existing key/values that should be modified. Be very careful what you add there! Plugins may define conflicting values for some parameters.

“set” and “default” key names will be automatically prefixed with the plugin name, in upper case.


config = {
    "add": {
        "SECRET_KEY": "{{ 8|random_string }}"
    "defaults": {
        "DOCKER_IMAGE": "username/imagename:latest",
    "set": {
        "MASTER_PASSWORD": "h4cked",

This configuration from the “myplugin” plugin will set the following values:

  • MYPLUGIN_SECRET_KEY: an 8-character random string will be generated and stored in the user configuration.

  • MYPLUGIN_DOCKER_IMAGE: this value will by default not be stored in config.yml, but tutor config printvalue MYPLUGIN_DOCKER_IMAGE will print username/imagename:latest.

  • MASTER_PASSWORD will be set to h4cked. Needless to say, plugin developers should avoid doing this.


Plugin patches affect the rendered environment templates. In many places the Tutor templates include calls to {{ patch("patchname") }}. This grants plugin developers the possibility to modify the content of rendered templates. Plugins can add content in these places by adding values to the patches attribute.


The list of existing patches can be found by searching for {{ patch( strings in the Tutor source code:

git grep "{{ patch"

The list of patches can also be browsed online on Github.


patches = {
    "local-docker-compose-services": """redis:
image: redis:latest"""

This will add a Redis instance to the services run with tutor local commands.


The patches attribute can be a callable function instead of a static dict value.


Hooks are actions that are run during the lifetime of the platform. For instance, hooks are used to trigger database initialisation and migrations. Each hook has a different specification.


The services that will be run during initialisation should be added to the init hook, for instance for database creation and migrations.


hooks = {
  "init": ["myservice1", "myservice2"]

During initialisation, “myservice1” and “myservice2” will be run in sequence with the commands defined in the templates myplugin/hooks/myservice1/init and myplugin/hooks/myservice2/init.

To initialise a “foo” service, Tutor runs the “foo-job” service that is found in the env/local/ file. By default, Tutor comes with a few services in this file: mysql-job, lms-job, cms-job, forum-job. If your plugin requires running custom services during initialisation, you will need to add them to the template. To do so, just use the “local-docker-compose-jobs-services” patch.

In Kubernetes, the approach is the same, except that jobs are implemented as actual job objects in the k8s/jobs.yml template. To add your own services there, your plugin should implement the “k8s-jobs” patch.


This hook will be executed just before the init hooks. Otherwise, the specs are identical. This is useful for creating databases or other resources that will be required during initialisation, for instance.


This is a hook that will be run to build a docker image for the requested service.


hooks = {
    "build-image": {"myimage": "myimage:latest"}

With this hook, users will be able to build the myimage:latest docker image by running:

tutor images build myimage


tutor images build all

This assumes that there is a Dockerfile file in the myplugin/build/myimage subfolder of the plugin templates directory.


This hook allows pulling/pushing images from/to a docker registry.


hooks = {
    "remote-image": {"myimage": "myimage:latest"},

With this hook, users will be able to pull and push the myimage:latest docker image by running:

tutor images pull myimage
tutor images push myimage


tutor images pull all
tutor images push all


In order to define plugin-specific hooks, a plugin should also have a template directory that includes the plugin hooks. The templates attribute should point to that directory.


import os
templates = os.path.join(os.path.abspath(os.path.dirname(__file__)), "templates")

With the above declaration, you can store plugin-specific templates in the templates/myplugin folder next to the file.

In Tutor, templates are Jinja2-formatted files that will be rendered in the Tutor environment (the $(tutor config printroot)/env folder) when running tutor config save. The environment files are overwritten every time the environment is saved. Plugin developers can create templates that make use of the built-in Jinja2 API. In addition, a couple additional filters are added by Tutor:

  • common_domain: Return the longest common name between two domain names. Example: {{ ""|common_domain("") }} is equal to “”.

  • encrypt: Encrypt an arbitrary string. The encryption process is compatible with htpasswd verification.

  • list_if: In a list of (value, condition) tuples, return the list of value for which the condition is true.

  • patch: See patches.

  • random_string: Return a random string of the given length composed of ASCII letters and digits. Example: {{ 8|random_string }}.

  • reverse_host: Reverse a domain name (see reference). Example: {{ ""|reverse_host }} is equal to “com.myopenedx.demo”.

  • walk_templates: Iterate recursively over the templates of the given folder. For instance:

    {% for file in "apps/myplugin"|walk_templates %}
    {% endfor %}

When saving the environment, template files that are stored in a template root will be rendered to the environment folder. The following files are excluded:

  • Binary files with the following extensions: .ico, .jpg, .png, .ttf

  • Files that are stored in a folder named “partials”, or one of its subfolders.


A plugin can provide custom command line commands. Commands are assumed to be click.Command objects.


import click

@click.command(help="I'm a plugin command")
def command():
    click.echo("Hello from myplugin!")

Any user who installs the myplugin plugin can then run:

$ tutor myplugin
Hello from myplugin!

You can even define subcommands by creating command groups:

import click"I'm a plugin command group")
def command():

@click.command(help="I'm a plugin subcommand")
def dosomething():
    click.echo("This subcommand is awesome")

This would allow any user to run:

$ tutor myplugin dosomething
This subcommand is awesome

See the official click documentation for more information.