Why are there so few 3rd Party Plugins for Grafana?

Hi,
I am thinking of using Grafana as the front end Platform for our client. What troubles me is the lack of third party plugins for Grafana as compared to other platforms such as Splunk which has near 2000 plugins; yet they have fewer install base than Grafana.

The standard Grafana templates are nice but our clients may prefer other plugins.

Is there a reason for this?

Thanks

Running third-party code inside an application like Grafana is tricky.

There are plenty of plugin developers out there that are building some really cool plugins. The challenge right now is not to get more people developing plugins, but for the Grafana team to publish more of the ones that are being built.

To publish a plugin, it needs to be reviewed, vetted, and tested by a Grafana team member. As much as we’d love to “open the flood gates”, we review plugins for two main reasons:

  • Security: Panel plugins running inside your Grafana inside have access to the data returned by your data sources. There’s nothing that prevents a plugin from shipping your data off to a server somewhere. Are data sources handling credentials responsibly? We currently don’t have any automated vetting for these things, so it comes down to the reviewer to review the source code to make sure that a plugin doesn’t put users at risk.
  • Quality: We care about the experience for the end users. If every other plugin you install doesn’t load, or crashes randomly, it results in a really poor experience for everyone. For this reason, the reviewer configures each plugin to make sure it works as expected (which might include having to learn a new technology). Reviewers also prioritize updates to existing plugins over new ones to increase the quality of the ones have been published already.

At the moment, there are 1-2 people in the Grafana team that review plugins, part-time. We’re currently working on a new automated submission process that’s going to save us a lot of time, but it’ll take some time before we can start reaping the benefits from this.

I hope I could provide some insights. I’d be happy to answer any other questions you might have!

3 Likes

Just checked that there are only 197 plugins in Grafana. As mentioned Splunk which is very less popular than Grafana has 2000 plugins.

So am I to assume there are probably thousands of plugins under review in the pipeline?

Must be very bad for those poor plugin developers…

The plugin submission/review process is public. You can see the current pipeline on the project board.

Cool, there are a few. I guess not many people are noticing Grafana yet.

Thanks for the reply

I checked quickly those Splunk plugins - they can be also only “dashboards”. So I would say Splunk plugins = Grafana plugins + Grafana dashboards. Grafana.com has 4k published dashboards, so Grafana can win this “number of plugins competition”.

Grafana plugin developers may be a poor, but thanks to this review process Grafana users are more happy. I have had poor user experience with Splunk plugins. As an user I have ended with broken plugin after each Splunk update.

You can filter only “Splunk build/passed/AppInspect Passed” plugins and you will end up with ~30 plugins. So I would say only these Splunk plugins are reviewed/have some minimal quality guaranteed. I would say win for Grafana.

Overall, yes Splunk plugin developer has easier life, because it’s easier to create and publish Splunk plugins. But that plugin quality can be very poor, so user experience at the end can be also poor.

1 Like

Hi, just wondering are there some restrictions for Grafana plugin developers?

Such as:

  1. Can they monetize their plugins?
  2. Can they create plugins that can potentially compete with Grafana’s Premium/Standard plugins?
  1. If your plugin integrates with a commercial offering that your company makes money from, you need to purchase a plugin subscription to be able to publish it. If you want to publish a plugin for an open source technology, say PostgreSQL, you can publish it for free.

    I honestly don’t know of any cases where people are monetizing the plugin itself, other than accepting donations (which of course is totally fine). If this is something you’re considering, I’d be happy to dig around for a better answer.

  2. Not sure what you mean by Grafana Standard here, so I’m going to assume that you’re referring to our Enterprise plugins and the OSS plugins.

    • If you’d like to build a plugin that “competes” with any of the built-in plugins, go nuts! We’d be happy to accept it into the project if it turns out to be better than the built-in ones.
    • If you want to build a plugin that competes with our Enterprise plugins however, we probably won’t be able to publish it.
1 Like

What troubles me is the lack of third party plugins for Grafana as compared to other platforms such as Splunk which has near 2000 plugins; yet they have fewer install base than Grafana.

Splunk has had 17 years to get plugins. It was founded in 2003. They’ve had plenty of time for people to discover them and build plugins.

Grafana was initially released in 2014. I think we’re doing pretty well for an OSS startup.