Windows Phone 8 Plugins

This section provides details for how to implement native plugin code on the Windows Phone platform. Before reading this, see Plugin Development Guide for an overview of the plugin's structure and its common JavaScript interface. This section continues to demonstrate the sample echo plugin that communicates from the Cordova webview to the native platform and back.

Writing a plugin for Cordova on Windows Phone requires a basic understanding of Cordova's architecture. Cordova-WP8 consists of a WebBrowser that hosts the application's JavaScript code and manages native API calls. You can extend a C# BaseCommand class (WPCordovaClassLib.Cordova.Commands.BaseCommand), which comes with most of the functionality you need:

  1. Select your project, and right-click to choose Add → New Item... If you wish, you can add it to the Plugins folder.

  2. Select Class and name it Echo.cs. This class name must exactly match what you call specify as the service in the cordova.exec() call on the JavaScript side.

  3. Include the base classes implementation:

    using WPCordovaClassLib.Cordova;
    using WPCordovaClassLib.Cordova.Commands;
    using WPCordovaClassLib.Cordova.JSON;
  4. Extend your class from BaseCommand:

    public class Echo : BaseCommand
        // ...
  5. Add an echo method that is callable from JavaScript:

    public class Echo : BaseCommand
        public void echo(string options)
            // all JS callable plugin methods MUST have this signature!
            // public, returning void, 1 argument that is a string

See the BaseCommand.cs class for methods available for the plugin to override. For example, the plugin can capture pause and resume events.


The default namespace for unqualified commands is:

    namespace Cordova.Extension.Commands
        // ...

If you want to specify your own namespace, you need to make a fully qualified call to cordova.exec. For example, if you want to define your C# class like this:

    namespace com.mydomain.cordovaExtensions
        public class Echo : BaseCommand
            // ...

The JavaScript would need to call exec like this:

    cordova.exec(win, fail, "com.mydomain.cordovaExtensions.Echo", ...);

Interpreting Arguments in C

In the example discussed in Application Plugins, the data your plugin receives is a string, but what if you want to pass an array of strings? Suppose the JavaScript cordova.exec call is specified like this:

    cordova.exec(win, fail, "Echo", "echo", ["input string"]);

The value of options string passed to the Echo.echo method is JSON:

    "[\"input string\"]"

All JavaScript exec arguments are JSON-encoded before being passed into C#, and so need to be decoded:

    string optVal = JsonHelper.Deserialize<string[]>(options)[0];
    // optVal now has the value of "input string"

Passing Results from C# to JavaScript

The BaseCommand class provides methods to pass data to JavaScript callback handlers. If you simply want to signal success with no accompanying result, you can simply call:

    // calls back with an empty plugin result, considered a success callback

To pass data back, you need to call DispatchCommandResult differently:

    DispatchCommandResult(new PluginResult(PluginResult.Status.OK, "Everything went as planned, this is a result that is passed to the success handler."));

Use an encoded JSON string to pass structured object data back to JavaScript:

    DispatchCommandResult(new PluginResult(PluginResult.Status.OK, "{result:\"super awesome!\"}"));

To signal an error, call DispatchCommandResult with a PluginResult object whose status is ERROR:

    DispatchCommandResult(new PluginResult(PluginResult.Status.ERROR, "Echo signaled an error"));

Handling Serialization Errors

When interpreting your arguments, try/catch blocks help screen out bad input. This pattern appears throughout the Cordova C# code:

    string optVal = null;

        optVal = JsonHelper.Deserialize<string[]>(options)[0];
        // simply catch the exception, we handle null values and exceptions together

    if (optVal == null)
        DispatchCommandResult(new PluginResult(PluginResult.Status.JSON_EXCEPTION));
        // ... continue on to do our work

Plugin Lifetime

Plugins with long-running requests, background activity such as media playback, listeners, or that maintain internal state should implement the onReset method to clean up those activities. The method runs when the CordovaView WebBrowser navigates to a new page or refreshes, which reloads the JavaScript.

    // defined in WPCordovaClassLib.Cordova.Commands.BaseCommand
    public virtual void OnReset() { }

Plugin XML

The following shows how to use the plugin.xml file to specify a plugin's source files on the Windows Phone platform. See Application Plugins for an overview, and Plugin Specification for details on available options.

  • The <source-file> element defines all plugin resources, such as .cs, .xaml, .xaml.cs, and .dll files, and image assets.

  • The <config-file> element defines elements to inject into a configuration file. This example adds a plugin to the platform's config.xml file:

    <config-file target="config.xml" parent="/*">
        <feature name="PluginName">
            <param name="wp-package" value="PluginName"/>

This example adds the contacts capability to the WMAppManifest.xml file:

    <config-file target="Properties/WMAppManifest.xml" parent="/Deployment/App/Capabilities">
        <Capability Name="ID_CAP_CONTACTS" />

Debugging Plugins

Use Visual Studio's debugger to debug a plugin's C# component. You can set a break point at any of the methods exposed by your class.

JavaScript is more difficult to debug on Windows Phone. You need to use console.log to output the plugin's state, or to inform yourself of errors.

Common Pitfalls

  • Be careful not to pass arguments from JavaScript to the native side that are difficult to deserialize as JSON. Most device platforms expect the argument passed to cordova.exec() to be an array, such as the following:

    cordova.exec(win, fail, "ServiceName", "MethodName", ["this is a string", 54, {literal:'trouble'}]);

This may result in an overly complex string value for C# to decode:

    "[\"this is a string\", 54, { literal:'trouble' }]"

Instead, consider converting all parameters to strings before calling exec(), and decoding each separately:

    cordova.exec(win, fail, "ServiceName", "MethodName", ["this is a string", "54", "{literal:'trouble'}"]);
    string[] optValues = JsonHelper.Deserialize<string[]>(options);
  • It is usually better to check parameters in JavaScript before calling exec(). Doing so allows you to re-use more code and pull unnecessary functionality from the plugin's various native implementations.