What you'll learn

Language plugins were introduced with the release of Please v17. Each plugin contains build definitions specific to a particular language. In this codelab we'll cover

For this codelab we'll start with a clean repo. The first thing you'll need to do is initialise it as a Please repo. We can do this with plz init. Now if we check the directory we should have a config file, as well as the Please wrapper script pleasew:

$ plz init
$ tree -a
├── pleasew
└── .plzconfig

1 directory, 2 files

For a comprehensive list of available plugins, visit There you'll find plugins for language build rules, plugins for various technologies, plugins for generating protos, and tools to help you maintain your Please project.

Can't find a plugin for your language?

The plugin ecosystem was designed with extensibility in mind, so if there is a language that you'd like to build with Please and no plugin, consider writing one! The existing plugins should serve as helpful templates, and if you get stuck, feel free to reach out to the Please team on Github or the Please community on Gitter. There will also be a codelab coming soon that will cover the basics of writing a new plugin.

The easy way to install a plugin in your project is to use plz init. We'll use the Go plugin in this example:

$ plz init plugin go

$ tree -a
├── pleasew
├── plugins
│   └── BUILD
├── .plzconfig
└── plz-out
    └── log
        └── build.log

4 directories, 4 files


preloadsubincludes = ///go//build_defs:go

[Plugin "go"]
Target = //plugins:go

In the plzconfig, we can see that two things have been added for us. The first is a preloaded subinclude. This will ensure that whichever package we're in in our project, the rules defined in the plugin we just installed will be available. This is completely optional. If the intention is to only use the rules in a few places, it might make more sense to have an explicit subinclude in those packages to avoid the plugin being a dependency of the entire repo.

The second thing is a section for configuration of our new plugin. Target is a required field in this section. This tells Please where to look for the build target that defines the plugin. There may be other required fields depending on the particular plugin we've installed. More information about the various config options is available from the plugin repository itself (e.g. please-build/go-rules), or via plz help [language].


  name = "go",
  revision = "v1.17.2",
  plugin = "go-rules",
  owner = "please-build",

A new file has also been created for us called plugins/BUILD. This file should contain a plugin_repo() target which will download our desired plugin for us. The plugin is actually defined as a subrepo under the hood, which is why when we want to depend on the build definitions in the plugin, we reference them with a /// (like in the preloaded subinclude in the .plzconfig file). The // is then used to reference build targets within that subrepo, //build_defs:go for example.

Note the revision field will be set to the most recent available version of the plugin, but can be set to any version tag or commit hash that you require.

The use of plz init plugin is entirely optional. You might prefer to manually add the plugin_repo() target somewhere else if putting it in plugins/ doesn't fit your needs. The only requirements for using a plugin are that there is a plugin_repo() target somewhere, and that it is referenced in the Target field of the plugin's config section in the .plzconfig file.

You should now be set up with a language plugin. You now have access to all of the build definitions provided by your chosen plugin.

Go ahead and install any other plugins that you Please, and get building!