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Migrating a plugin to Sandy

Migrating a plugin to the new Sandy plugin architecture consists of 3 steps:

  1. Enabling Sandy for a plugin.
  2. Update state and connection management to use the Sandy APIs.
  3. Update the UI to use Sandy / Antd components only.

Opting in to Sandy#

Converting a Flipper plugin to use Sandy can best be done by running Flipper from source.

For open source users: clone this repository and run yarn install in the desktop folder.

Enabling Sandy for a plugin requires two steps. First of all, flipper-plugin should be added as peer dependency to the package.json of the plugin:

"peerDependencies": {
"flipper-plugin": "*"

Next, make sure to run yarn install again in the desktop/ folder. Sandy is now enabled for this plugin, and the plugin has to be restructured to the new architecture which we will do in the next step.

Using Sandy for state and connection management#

The goal of this step is to use the leave the plugin UI largely as is but convert state and connection management to use the new Sandy APIs as exposed through the flipper-plugin package.

Comparing to 'classic' plugins, there are a few fundamental differences when it comes to the plugin structure of Sandy plugins. A class extending from FlipperPlugin which is exported as default is no longer used to define a plugin. Instead, a plugin definition consists of two parts:

  1. A definition of the state and logic of our plugin that is exported under the name plugin: export function plugin(client: PluginClient<Events, Methods>) { ... }. Most of the state and all connection logic will move here.
  2. A definition of the root of the UI is exported under the name Component: export function Component() { ... }

There are a few conceptual changes that are important to understand, as they are different compared to classic plugins:

The plugin function is called exactly once when a plugin is set up for an application. This means that all state that is created inside the plugin definition will be kept as long as the app is connected, even when the user is navigating away. It used to be necessary to use persistedState for this kind of state, but that is no longer the case.

In contrast, the Component component is mounted whenever the user opens the plugin, so any state stored locally in that React component will be lost if the user navigates away. We recommend avoiding that, and store state, including selection, in the plugin definition instead, using the createState abstraction.

The relation between plugin, its parameter client, and how to use it in your Component definition is documented in detail in the Plugin Declaration section. Please read it before continuing as it will explain how to manage state, handle receiving and sending data and testing in detail.

The full set of available APIs on client is documented on the Desktop Plugin API page.

This step is completed if the plugin follows the next plugin / component structure and is working again. Make sure to test extensively!


  • To quickly verify the plugin compiles, the simplest way is to keep yarn tsc -w running in the desktop folder.
  • Similarly yarn watch can be used to run the unit tests in watch mode. Use the p key to filter for your specific plugin if jest doesn't do so automatically.
  • Example of migrating the network plugin to use Sandy APIs. D24108772 / Github commit
  • Example of migrating the example plugin to use Sandy APIs. D22308265 / Github commit
  • These steps typically does not involve change much the UI or touch other files than index.tsx. Typically, the root component needs to be changed, but most other components can remain as is. However, if a ManagedTable is used (see the next section), it might be easier to already convert the table in this step.
  • Sandy has first class support for unit testing your plugin and mocking device interactions. Please do set up unit tests per documentation linked above!
  • If the original plugin definition contained state, it is recommended to create one new state atoms (createState) per field in the original state, rather than having one big atom.
  • If the original plugin definition contained persistedState, it is recommended to create one new state atoms (createState) per field in the original state, rather than having one big atom. By setting the persist option of the state, you can make sure this piece of state becomes part of the import / export functionality of Flipper. Which is important if the data stored here is relevant for bug reports.
  • For deeply nested state updates, using state.update is often simpler than using state.set, as it uses immer under the hood to make immutable state updates straight forward.
  • For the same reason, you don't need to shallowly clone your state anymore, as long as state.update is used for state updates.
  • When dealing a lot with promises, using async / await is usually simpler.

Migration table#

Some abstractions that used to be (for example) static methods on FlipperPlugin are now exposed from the client object:

| Old | New | | persistedState | Use createState and set the persist option | | persistedStateReducer | Create message handlers and update the state objects directly | | exportPersistedState | Use the client.onExport hook | | getActiveNotifications | Use client.showNotification for persistent notifications, or message / notification from antd for one-off notifications. | createTablePlugin | TBD, so these conversions can be skipped for now | | init | client.onReady |

Using Sandy / to organise the plugin UI#

The goal of this step is to update the UI of the plugin to use Sandy / components. These will provide a more consistent user experience, usually provide better UX and they support dark mode! Roughly speaking this typically involves replacing all imported components with their modern counterpart.

For Sandy plugins, components can be found here:

  • Interactive data displaying components are exposed from flipper-plugin: DataTable (for tables), DataInspector (for JSON trees) and ElementInspector (for element trees).
  • flipper-plugin also provides the primitives to organise the Layout of the plugin.
  • Practically all other, more generic components are provided by, a proven mature open source component library, which is much richer than the components that are offered from flipper.

In Sandy, the layout is typically build by using a combination of Layout.Top (or .Right, .Left, .Bottom), which divides all available space in a fixed and dynamic section, Layout.Scrollable, which takes all available space and provides scrollbars if its content is still greater, and Layout.Container which organizes paddings, borders and spacing between elements etc.

We generally recommend against using margins; use padding and gap instead. Ideally, use theme.spacing to get standard numbers for margins and paddings instead of hard-coded numbers. This will help with achieving consistency in look and feel.

Design resources#

There are three important resources to check for documentation on the components available:

  1. If you start Flipper, and go to View > Flipper style guide, you will see a general overview of the Flipper design system. It will demonstrate colors, typography and creating layouts including some examples.
  2. The component overview
  3. The API reference documentation for the components provided by flipper-plugin

Old and new components#

For conversion, the following table maps the old components to the new ones:

Old flipper componentNew componentProviding packageNotes
SidebarLayout.Top (or .Right, .Left, .Bottom)flipper-pluginSet the resizable flag to allow the user to resize the pane.
FlexColumn / Pane / ViewLayout.Containerflipper-pluginUse the gap property to provide some spacing between the children!
FlexRowLayout.Horizontalflipper-pluginUse the gap property to provide some spacing between the children!
Text / HeadingTypography.Text / Typography.Titleantd
ManagedDataTableDataTableflipper-pluginRequires state to be provided by a createDataSource
ManagedDataInspector / DataInspectorDataInspectorflipper-plugin
ManagedElementInspector / ElementInspectorElementInspectorflipper-plugin
Tabs / TabTabs / Tab`flipper-pluginNote that Tab's title property is now called tab.

Most other components, like select elements, tabs, date-pickers, etc etc can all be found in the Ant documentaiton.

Theming & custom styled components#

Creating your own components / styling using styled is still supported. But ideally, you should need custom styled components a lot less!

Since Sandy plugins are expected to support dark mode, (use the settings pane to quickly toggle), we recommend to not use hard-coded colors, but instead use one of the semantic colors that are provided through the theme object that can be imported from flipper-plugin.

Ideally there should be no hard-coded colors anymore either, and little need to use width: 100% / height: 100% anywhere, as needing those typically signals a layout issue.

Tip: it is recommended to keep components as much as possible outside the entry file, as components defined outside the index.tsx file will benefit from fast refresh.

Wrapping up#

This step of the process is completed as soon as there are no imports from the flipper package anymore. Don't forget to remove flipper from the peerDependencies in the package.json section if present.

Feel free to reach out to the Flipper team for any questions!