I’ve always enjoyed the passion of extending applications with additional tooling, whether it supports it or not. I first began experimenting with Roblox’s plugin API all the way back in 2014, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to fully understand the true potential of plugins.
If you’re looking to customize, it is incredibly easy to add functionality and develop special APIs for Roblox Studio to tailor it to your needs. Community-built plugins provide an amazing way to extend Roblox Studio with development features that it may not have had previously. Whether that is adding compatibility with external editors, more building tools, or different ways to edit animations — Roblox offers a library of plugins that are just one click away.
And plugins don’t just add in new features, they can also be useful for tweaking existing behavior. This means that, even if the tooling already exists in Studio, you can still leverage community-created plugins and tools. The main advantage of this is the added support and customization which pre-existing tools may not have. For example, if a developer hosts their source code on GitHub, you can collaborate with them to add more features to the tool or assist with bug fixes that the developer themselves hasn’t found or can’t fix. Community collaboration greatly expands the potential any given tool can provide.
In Roblox, you can browse a library category specifically for community plugins, which makes installing plugins a one-click process. The majority of plugins are installed this way, and some of these tools can be very helpful for improving and adjusting your workflow.
If you prefer to lint in other languages (such as JSON), have a large script, or just want to write outside of Roblox Script Editor, there are plugins for that. One community-created tool that is commonly used for this is Rojo.
Rojo is a plugin tool that lets you write code in an external editor, and then sync them back into Roblox, or build projects to a Roblox model file. Working in an external editor can be more friendly for some Roblox developers because of the aforementioned linting, or use Git for easier version control, or the extension support that can help with writing code.
Another useful community-built plugin is DataStore Editor by Roblox developer sleitnick. While the data held in these stores can already be accessed and modified through Studio’s Lua Command Bar, it can be risky, and I don’t feel that using Lua is not the most user-friendly way of accomplishing this. The DataStore Editor provides a comfortable user interface for you to use that makes it easier to modify data.
I prefer this editor plugin because, lets say, I need to change a user’s inventory (eg. coin currency) inside their DataStore key. If I used the command bar, it would be easy to mistakenly type in the wrong user ID and accidentally give coins to the wrong user or maybe give the user the wrong amount of coins. While the plugin does not safeguard values, I find that the visual user interface makes it much easier to verify that I typed the right data in. The plugin also doesn’t require you to know the full DataStore Lua API, as it handles all that for you.
The last community plugin I’m going to talk about is F3X, a building plugin that provides a selection of tools. It has the three basic draggers that Studio has (Move, Rotate, and Scale), but they have added functionality that the default draggers do not have. For example, the Scale tool can be changed to move the part or not, changing how it scales.
It also has a built-in lock tool (which manages the “Locked” property and controls if it can be selected or not inside Studio), provides various keybinds which means you can switch the tool by only having to press one button (as opposed to clicking the tool icon on the ribbon bar), and has a built-in verification system that can help with pinpoint accuracy of part resizing and movement.
These three plugins barely scratch the surface of how useful plugins can be. And they are well-supported with access to the majority of Roblox’s API, as well as special APIs specifically developed for the use with plugins.
Plugins have the potential to drastically change your workflow for the better. I’d love to hear what tools you use or if I helped inspire you to try something new.