Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Extend the Bluemix CLI Through Plugins

Put a smile in your cloud
As much as I like nice graphical user interfaces (UIs) and working with the browser, for most tasks I prefer using the command line. I have done so and still do for working with DB2 and dashDB, I also use the Cloud Foundry (CF) Command Line Interface (CLI) to manage my Bluemix environments. The "cf" tool is quite handy, allows to perform what I need to accomplish. A great feature is its support of plugins that allow to extend its functionality. There are IBM-provided plugins and several coming from the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. Here are some brief instructions on how to get started.

Once you have installed a recent version of the "cf" tool, just invoking it without any parameters should display some help text on available commands and features. In the lower part of that text should be two sections related to plugins:

   add-plugin-repo                        Add a new plugin repository
   remove-plugin-repo                     Remove a plugin repository
   list-plugin-repos                      List all the added plugin repositories
   repo-plugins                           List all available plugins in specified repository or in all added repositories

   plugins                                List all available plugin commands
   install-plugin                         Install CLI plugin
   uninstall-plugin                       Uninstall the plugin defined in command argument

The command "add-plugin-repo" allows to add new repositories from which plugins can be installed, "list-plugin-repos" lists those repositories already available in your environment. Try the following two commands to add the plugin repositories from Bluemix Public and from the Cloud Foundry community collection:

cf add-plugin-repo  BluemixPublic http://plugins.ng.bluemix.net/

cf add-plugin-repo CF-Community http://plugins.cloudfoundry.org/

Once done, try the following command to list the repositories. It should return something like shown:
henrik>> cf list-plugin-repos

Repo Name      Url  
BluemixPublic  http://plugins.ng.bluemix.net  
CF-Community   http://plugins.cloudfoundry.org/ 

With the command "repo-plugins" it is possible to list all the available plugins ready to be installed. You can read more about them at the repository descriptions linked above. For switching quickly between my different Bluemix environments I have installed the "targets" plugin from the Cloud Foundry community repository:

henrik>> cf install-plugin targets -r CF-Community

**Attention: Plugins are binaries written by potentially untrusted authors. Install and use plugins at your own risk.**

Do you want to install the plugin targets? (y or n)> y
Looking up 'targets' from repository 'CF-Community'
8230816 bytes downloaded...
Installing plugin /tmp/cf-targets-plugin...
Plugin cf-targets v1.1.0 successfully installed.

After I am done when calling just "cf" again, there is a new section in the help text available:
   targets                                List available targets
   set-target                             Set current target
   save-target                            Save current target
   delete-target                          Delete a saved target

If you have more plugins installed then there will be more commands displayed. Using the "targets" plugin I can save the current environment, i.e., the Bluemix or Cloud Foundry instance I am logged into, and quickly can switch between the Bluemix Dallas (NG) and Bluemix London (EU-GB) platforms using the "set-target" command. "cf set-target eu" would replace several "cf api" and "cf login" commands and a lot of typing, great for scripting and more efficient work.