Adapters vs. Plug-ins in Software Development: What separates them?

Adapters vs. Plug-ins in Software Development
This article defines software plug-ins and adapters and their differences as well as business and technical needs that they meet.

What is a Plug-in?

A plugin is a software that is installed on a program, enhancing its capabilities. A Plug-in cannot exist as an orphan but it needs a host application for execution. Currently, more and more plug-ins are getting done to achieve specific jobs. With the advent of more community plug-ins they are created with practically no support for enhancement or customization.

For example, GitHub plug-in for JIRA is a popular plug-in. It allows Jira users to view comments and file details of GitHub from Jira. Therefore, this plug-in works as a window to Jira users to view GitHub items. Thus, providing more power to Jira user without leaving the Jira tool.

What is Kovair Plug-in?

Kovair has plug-ins for most of the IDE’s to track and capture code related data.

For example, Kovair has plug-ins for eclipse IDE. The plug-in, when installed in IDE, can communicate with Kovair adapter. The plug-in track the code files, Classes and methods along with traceability.

Pros:

  • Allows Jira user to establish GitHub data traceability, thus increasing productivity
  • Readily made available by vendors or by open source community

Cons

  • No data move between tools. Thus, it cannot meet the need for data synchronization
  • Plug-in is between Jira and GitHub only. If another different pair like Jira plugin for Clear Case is required another pair needs to be developed or procured
  • Plug-ins are more generic in nature and thus any customization is not possible.

What are Adapters/ Connectors?

Adapters or Connectors are generally services which are created for a specific tool, sometimes for a specific version of the tool to extract data from the tool to another tool as well as push data to the tool for integration. Connectors can be either point to point or can be ESB oriented.

What are Kovair Adapters?

Kovair adapters are connectors (WCF Services) using respective tools API with the objective of exposing tool functionality to Kovair Omnibus, thus capable of connecting to any other similar tool having similar data model using the Kovair Omnibus platform.

All adapters generally expose all major artifacts and related attributes thus providing immense flexibility to orchestrate data using the Kovair Omnibus and the tool APIs

Pros for Adapters/Connectors:

  • Implementation is generic thus providing maximum flexibility to end user for data synchronization with need specific configurations.
  • Can cater to lot more use cases by combining artifacts and attributes
  • Supports data transformation with data sync back
  • Can be connected to any other tool using the Kovair Omnibus or similar ESB having similar data structure
  • Supports all major features for data integration like reliability, cut over and multiple use cases.
  • Provides scope for customization

Cons

  • Initial development time is more compared to commercial out of the box plug-ins
  • Cost in general is higher than plug-ins.

Conclusion

Plug-ins and Adapters/Connectors are two completely different things. Each of them is built to cater to different business and technical needs. Both perform the operation in a different way thus meet different needs. Plug-in is for more specific need between two tools where data movement is not required but adapter meets the greater needs of the integration between two applications or tools.

Joydeep Datta serves as Director for Product development, responsible for all engineering offerings. He brings to this role deep expertise in the architectural design, core Integration architecture, Application & Technology Architecture. He has more than 15 years of experience. He is responsible for architecting and implementing enterprise grade products and specializes in process and data integration.

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