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Writing A Plugin

Plugins provide Knip with entry files and dependencies it would be unable to find otherwise. Plugins always do at least one of the following:

  1. Define entry file patterns
  2. Find dependencies in configuration files

Knip v5.1.0 introduces a new plugin API, which makes them a breeze to write and maintain.

This tutorial walks through example plugins so you’ll be ready to write your own!

Example 1: entry

Let’s dive right in. Here’s the entire source code of the Rollup plugin:

import { hasDependency } from '~/util/plugin.js';
import type { IsPluginEnabled } from '~/types/plugins.js';
const title = 'Rollup';
const enablers = ['rollup'];
const isEnabled: IsPluginEnabled = ({ dependencies }) =>
hasDependency(dependencies, enablers);
const entry = ['rollup.config.{js,cjs,mjs,ts}'];
export default {

Yes, that’s the entire plugin! Let’s go over each item one by one:

1. title

The title of the plugin displayed in the list of plugins and in debug output.

2. enablers

An array of strings to match one or more dependencies in package.json so the isEnabled function can determine whether the plugin should be enabled or not. Regular expressions are allowed as well.

3. isEnabled

This function checks whether a match is found in the dependencies or devDependencies in package.json. The plugin is be enabled if the dependency is listed in package.json.

This function can be kept straightforward with the hasDependency helper.

4. entry

This plugin exports entry file patterns.

In summary: if rollup is listed as a dependency then rollup.config.* files are added as entry files.

With many tools, the dynamic configuration file import dependencies such as plugins or reporters with regular require or import statements. In this case, we have no extra work in the Knip plugin, as they’ll be treated as regular entry files. All internal and external dependencies of the rollup.config.ts entry file will be marked as used.

The next example shows how to handle a tool that has its own particular configuration object.

Example 2: config

Here’s the full source code of the nyc plugin:

import { hasDependency } from '#p/util/plugin.js';
import type { NycConfig } from './types.js';
import type { ResolveConfig, IsPluginEnabled } from '#p/types/plugins.js';
const title = 'nyc';
const enablers = ['nyc'];
const isEnabled: IsPluginEnabled = ({ dependencies }) =>
hasDependency(dependencies, enablers);
const config = ['.nycrc', '.nycrc.json', '.nycrc.{yml,yaml}', 'nyc.config.js'];
const resolveConfig: ResolveConfig<NycConfig> = config => {
return config?.extends ? [config.extends].flat() : [];
export default {

Here’s an example config file that will be handled by this plugin:

"extends": "@istanbuljs/nyc-config-typescript",
"check-coverage": true

Compared to the first example, this plugin has two new variables:

5. config

The config array contains all possible locations of the config file for the tool. Knip loads matching files and passes the result into the resolveConfig function:

6. resolveConfig

This function receives the exported value of the config files, and executes the resolveConfig function with this object. The plugin should return the dependencies referenced in this object.

Knip supports JSON, YAML, TOML, JavaScript and TypeScript config files. Files without an extension are provided as plain text strings.

Example 3: custom entry paths

Some tools operate mostly on entry files, some examples:

  • Mocha looks for test files at test/*.{js,cjs,mjs}
  • Storybook looks for stories at *.stories.@(mdx|js|jsx|tsx)

And some of those tools allow to configure those locations and patterns. If that’s the case, than we can define resolveEntryPaths in our plugin to take this from the configuration object and return it to Knip:

7. resolveEntryPaths

Here’s an example from the Ava test runner plugin:

const resolveEntryPaths: ResolveEntryPaths<AvaConfig> = localConfig => {
return localConfig?.files ?? [];

With Ava, you can configure files to override the default glob patterns to use custom locations for test files. If this function is implemented in a plugin, Knip will use its return value over the default entry patterns. The result is that users don’t need to duplicate this customization in both Ava and Knip.

Create a new plugin

The easiest way to create a new plugin is to use the create-plugin script:

Terminal window
cd packages/knip
bun create-plugin --name tool

This adds source and test files and fixtures to get you started. It also adds the plugin to the JSON Schema and TypeScript types.

Run the test for your new plugin:

Terminal window
bun test test/plugins/tool.test.ts

You’re ready to implement and submit a new Knip plugin! 🆕 🎉

Wrapping Up

Feel free to check out the implementation of other similar plugins, and borrow ideas and code from those!

The documentation website takes care of generating the plugin list and the individual plugin pages from the exported plugin values.

Thanks for reading. If you have been following this guide to create a new plugin, this might be the right time to open a pull request! Feel free to join the Knip Discord channel if you have any questions.

ISC License © 2024 Lars Kappert