Plugin Development Guide

A Cordova plugin bridges a bit of functionality between the WebView powering a Cordova application and the native platform the Cordova application is running on. Plugins are composed of a single JavaScript interface used across all platforms, and native implementations following platform-specific Plugin interfaces that the JavaScript will call into. It should be noted that all of the core Cordova APIs are implemented using this exact architecture.

This guide will go through each step necessary to write a simple Echo Plugin. The Echo Plugin will pass a string from JavaScript and send it into the native environment for the supported platforms. The native code will then return the same string back into the callbacks inside the plugin's JavaScript.

This guide should give anyone the necessary overview and level of detail to write more complex plugins.


The entry point for any plugin is JavaScript. The reason developers use Cordova is so they can use and write JavaScript, not Objective-C, not Java, not C#. The JavaScript interface for your plugin is the front-facing and arguably most important part of your Cordova plugin.

You can structure your plugin's JavaScript however you like. The one thing you must use to communicate between the Cordova JavaScript and native environments is the cordova.exec function. Here is an example:

cordova.exec(function(winParam) {}, function(error) {}, "service",
             "action", ["firstArgument", "secondArgument", 42,

The parameters explained in more detail:

  1. function(winParam) {} - Success function callback. Assuming your exec call completes successfully, this function will be invoked (optionally with any parameters you pass back to it)
  2. function(error) {} - Error function callback. If the operation does not complete successfully, this function will be invoked (optionally with an error parameter)
  3. "service" - The service name to call into on the native side. This will be mapped to a native class. More on this in the native guides below
  4. "action" - The action name to call into. This is picked up by the native class receiving the exec call, and, depending on the platform, essentially maps to a class's method. For more detail please check out the native guides located at the end of this article.
  5. [/* arguments */] - Arguments to get passed into the native environment

Echo Plugin JavaScript Example

window.echo = function(str, callback) {
    cordova.exec(callback, function(err) {
        callback('Nothing to echo.');
    }, "Echo", "echo", [str]);

Let's dive into this. The plugin attaches itself to window, specifically to the echo function. Plugin users would then use it as follows:

window.echo("echome", function(echoValue) {
    alert(echoValue == "echome"); // should alert true.

First, let's take a look at the last three arguments to the exec function. We will be calling the Echo "service", requesting the echo "action", and passing an array of arguments containing the echo string, which is the first parameter into the window.echo function.

The success callback passed into exec is simply a reference to the callback function that window.echo takes. We do a bit more for the error callback: if the native side fires off the error callback, we simply invoke the success callback and pass into it a "default" string.


Once you have defined a JavaScript for your plugin, you need to complement it with at least one native implementation. Below are specific guides for each platform Cordova supports. The below guides will continue on building the simple Echo Plugin example we started in this guide.