Writing MIPAV plugins without MIPAV source code

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You can use Eclipse to develop plugins for MIPAV without access to the MIPAV source code.


First, if you do not have an IDE like Eclipse, see Getting Started with Eclipse. If you already have Eclipse and Java, here is all you'll need:


Installation should be completed in the following order.

Installing Mipav

Mipav installation is quickly completed by following the prompts. Note where you install Mipav, in Windows the default is in the folder C:\Program Files\mipav

Adding Mipav JRE

Though not required, the Mipav JRE has many features you may find useful when writing your own plugins for Mipav.

If you would like to use the JRE bundled with an installed version of Mipav, navigate to the following location: Window -> Preferences -> Java -> Installed JREs. In this panel you can add the Mipav JRE using the "Add.." button. Once you have added the Mipav JRE to Eclipse, see step 4 of Building the Eclipse Project.

Building the Eclipse project

Steps for building MIPAV.
Step Text Picture
1 Start Eclipse. A dialog will ask you where the default workspace is located. Note the location it specifies and then click OK. With Eclipse started, click File, then New, then Java Project.
2 Name your project mipav. Ensure that the button next to "Create seperate folders for source and class files" is checked. Use a project specific JRE, the MIPAV jre you mad in Getting Started with Eclipse. Now press the "Next" button.
3 On the libraries tab, click "Add External Class Folder" where you'll want to navigate to where you installed MIPAV. Select that folder.
4 Also on the libraries tab, click "Add External JARs" and then add all the .jar files from the following directories:
  • mipav/lib/*
  • mipav/lib/jaxp/*
  • mipav/help/mipav_help.jar
  • mipav/InsightToolkit/lib/InsightToolkit/InsightToolkit.jar

Click Finish when complete. A new project called mipav should appear. You're now ready to run MIPAV!

Running MIPAV with a sample plugin within Eclipse

Running MIPAV.
Step Text Picture
1 To make sure you've set everything up correctly, we'll try to run MIPAV inside of Eclipse. Navigate to Run, then Run Configurations... on the control panel. On the dialog box that opens, highlight Java Application, and then click the New Launch Configuration on the left. Fill out the Name and Project fields with the phrase "mipav" To fill in the Main Class, click the Search... button. Search for the name "MipavMain" If found, great! Otherwise go to troubleshooting.
2 Click on the arguments tab. In the VM arguments box, put the following phrase "-Xms800m -Xmx800m" This specifies how many megabytes Java has available to run MIPAV. If you have a 64-bit machine, go crazy! On an 8GB machine, giving MIPAV 6000m works just fine.
3 When finished, click Run. If MIPAV starts, you're ready to start developing plugins. If not, go to troubleshooting.

Importing the plugin

For now download these three files to a convenient location:

Import these files into Eclipse using the dialog from File, then Import.


Installing the plugin

Installing the plugin.
Step Text Picture
1 Start MIPAV using the method shown in Running MIPAV within Eclipse. If that's already set up, start MIPAV and navigate to Plugins->Install Plugin. The dialog on the right will be displayed. Once you press the Browse button, find the folder where the mipav-plugin project resides. This should be inside the default workspace folder you noted earlier. Once found, go to click on the mipav-plugin/classes folder. You should see the following classes:
  • PlugInDialogNewGeneric.class
  • PlugInAlgorithmNewGeneric.class
  • PlugInNewGeneric.class

Move only PlugInNewGeneric.class to the right column as shown, and then press Install.

2 A success message will be displayed as shown.
3 Now open an image using MIPAV. You can now click on Plugs->Algorithms->PlugInNewGeneric.
4 This plugin opens a blank dialog box with working OK and Cancel buttons.

Modifying the plugin

You'll see the the OK and Cancel buttons print those words to the Console window in Eclipse. These words can be modified in PlugInDialogNewGeneric. Note that because the plugin depends on the Dialog and Algorithm classes that are in your workspace folder, the plugin is automatically updated when you make changes to the code. When you want to test a new version of your plugin, simply restart MIPAV and then run your plugin. You can also use Debug mode to make changes quickly.

Writing a plugin

Writing a plugin, including accessing the MIPAV API, the structure of plugins, and accessing MIPAV help is covered extensively in this presentation.

Attaching the MIPAV Source

If you have a rare copy of the MIPAV source code, this can be integrated into your plugin development. You can also integrate the on-line Java documentation. Right click on the mipav folder in the referenced libraries as shown, and then click on Properties. Under Java Source Attachment, you can select the external file or folder that contains the rare MIPAV source, downloaded Javadoc, or on-line Javadoc.


What could have possibly gone wrong? Please e-mail MIPAV-Support@nih.gov so your problem can be fixed and added to this page. You could also leave a comment on the talk page.

Helpful Links

  • The new version of the generic plugin is scriptable! Go here to see an example of successful script recording and here to see its execution.