In this exercise, you will construct a simple tabbed web interface integrated into Plesk. The first tab will contain a form, the second will contain a list of items, and the third - a toolbox with two actions. The exercise demonstrates the basics of building into the Plesk GUI.

We assume that the extension ID is example, and that you start with the code inside the ex1 directory. This code is partly written by us to help you focus only on certain areas. Additionally, we have populated the directory with media content necessary for the exercise. To see the completed exercise, examine the ex1complete directory.

Also, it is recommended to adjust your development environment to easily check the results of your work.

Step 1. Obtain the control flow from Plesk

Each extension has a single index file that is executed first when a user navigates to the extension from Plesk (for example, when the administrator goes to Server Management > Extensions and clicks the extension name). This index file is called index.php and its path is /htdocs/index.php relatively to the extension’s root directory. From this start point, you can either write your own code which renders the GUI in its own way, or use facilities for rapid extensions development that the SDK provides.

One of these facilities is support for the MVC pattern. If you are unfamiliar with the pattern, please read Applied to our example, the first thing we need to do is to select an appropriate class for further processing of the request to the index.php. Edit the file so that it looks as follows (



$application = new pm_Application();

These two lines tell the system to load helpers for drawing the GUI elements, load controllers, and pass the control to the default controller for requests processing (which is in /plib/controllers/IndexController.php under the extension’s root directory).

If we open IndexController.php, we will see that it extends pm_Controller_Action. It is mandatory that you use this class or its extensions for controllers.

As you can also see, this class has method stubs, for example, formAction(). This method will be called when calling the following URL:

http://<plesk-host-name>:<port>/modules/<extension id>/index.php/index/form

So the relations between requested URLs and methods can be represented this way:

URL prefix after /index.php/ Controller name Method to call
index/form IndexController formAction
index/tools IndexController toolsAction
custom/call CustomController callAction

In other words, the system processes request URLs, finds the <controller name>/<action name> pair and passes the control flow to the corresponding method. This mapping scheme comes from Zend, read more about it at

Summing up, to draw the first GUI your users will see, we need to implement the indexAction() method of IndexController. However, as we are going to have a form in the first tab, we need to forward requests from indexAction() to formAction() . To allow for the forwarding, change indexAction so that it looks as follows:

public function indexAction()
    // Default action will be formAction

We used the _forward() Zend method for this purpose. Now all requests to the extension’s index successfully reach formAction().

Let’s check the result. If you visit the main page of the extension (Server Management > Extensions > Extension SDK Example), you will see a blank page. Not particularly impressive, so let us move to the next step.

Step 2. Add a form

We defined that a form will be the main page of the extension. According to MVC, we need to create a form instance using the formAction() method and render it in the form.phtml view.

Regarding form construction, we rely on the Zend framework. If you are unfamiliar with Zend forms, read The basic idea behind forms is that a form must be the pm_Form_Simple PHP class or its extension . You can add input fields and buttons to a form by calling its addElement() (Zend method) and addControlButtons() (the SDK method). The benefit of this approach is that form validation and HTML rendering is done for you.

The form construction code is too long to present it here, refer to IndexController.php, formAction() to view it. As you can see in formAction() , a fter adding form elements, the code passes the form to the view as a variable.

$this->view->form = $form;

Now you need to define the presentation of your form, or, in other words, write its view. Read more about views at The views must be stored inside the extension’s root directory. So, for formAction() you will need to edit /plib/views/scripts/index/form.phtml and add the following line to form.phtml:

<?php echo $this->form; ?>

You can see that the form is displayed and processed.

image 79389

Look deeply on the implementation and check out how the fields are added, their values are read and saved in the pm_Settings key-value storage. Also, you can read more about implementing forms.

Step 3. Add a tabbed view

You already have one-page extension with the form. Now, let us add navigation using tabs. Instead of adding the tabs definition code to each action (for the form, list, and toolbar), you can specify the tabs once in the init() method and avoid code duplication. The init() method runs before action methods. Change the method so that it looks as follows:

public function init()
        // Init title for all actions
        $this->view->pageTitle = 'Example Extension';
        // Init tabs for all actions
        $this->view->tabs = [
                'title' => 'Form',
                'action' => 'form',
                'title' => 'Tools',
                'action' => 'tools',
                'title' => 'List',
                'action' => 'list',

As you can see, $this->view->tabs array binds the controller actions to tabs. Loosely speaking, now, when a user navigates to the List tab, the system will trigger the listAction() method.

You are already familiar with modifying the view. Let us render tabs before the form. You will need to edit /plib/views/scripts/index/form.phtml again and add the following line to the beginning of the file:

<?php echo $this->renderTabs($this->tabs); ?>

The renderTabs() method should render the tabs. The rendered view will be natively built into the Plesk interface. Read more about the parameters you can pass to renderTabs() here.

Great, now you have the tabs:

image 79390

As you can see, the tabs are displayed only on Form but are not displayed on Tools and List. The reason of that is their views are empty. Let’s move forward and implement these tabs.

Step 4. Add a list

Similar to forms, we need to create a list instance in listAction() and then render it in /plib/views/scripts/index/list.phtml. The list instance must be the pm_View_List_Simple class or its extension. Learn how to create a list from the code in IndexController.php, _getListRandom(). The _getListRandom() method generates a two-column list with some content.

Here are the most important steps of lists creation:

  1. Add the list data as an associative array.
  2. Create a list as a pm_View_List_Simple instance and specify the view and request parameters in the constructor.
  3. Add the data to the list by using the setData() method.
  4. Define the list columns by the setColumns method. The column names in your data array and in setColumns must match.
  5. Specify the list action URL using setDataUrl. This URL is actually the resource which is requested when a user performs operations with list controls (for example, when a user decides to change a page, or the order of rows). In our example, this URL is list-data. When a user requests http://<plesk host name>:<port>/modules/example/index.php/index/list-data, the system transforms hyphens to camel case and actually requests the listDataAction() method of IndexController.

Below is an example of the code that creates a list object:

private function _getListRandom()
        $data = [];
        $iconPath = pm_Context::getBaseUrl() . 'images/icon_16.gif';
        for ($index = 1; $index < 150; $index++) {
            $data[] = [
                'column-1' => '<a href="#">link #' . $index . '</a>',
                'column-2' => '<img src="/' . $iconPath . '" /> image #' . $index,
        $list = new pm_View_List_Simple($this->view, $this->_request);
            'column-1' => [
                'title' => 'Link',
                'noEscape' => true,
                'searchable' => true,
            'column-2' => [
                'title' => 'Description',
                'noEscape' => true,
                'sortable' => false,
        // Take into account listDataAction corresponds to the URL /list-data/
        $list->setDataUrl(['action' => 'list-data']);
        return $list;

Now, when you have the list, pass it to the view by changing listAction() to look the following way:

public function listAction()
        $list = $this->_getListRandom();
        // List object for pm_View_Helper_RenderList
        $this->view->list = $list;

The next important step is to change listDataAction() to handle changes in page numbers and results order. It is important to note that in such case the list is re-rendered based on the AJAX request made to listDataAction(). That is why the result is returned in JSON format.

public function listDataAction()
        $list = $this->_getListRandom();
        // Json data from pm_View_List_Simple

After you add these lines, the list paging and ordering will be self-serviced by the platform.

Finally, render the tabs and the list by adding the following lines to /plib/views/scripts/index/list.phtml:

<?php echo $this->renderTabs($this->tabs); ?>
<?php echo $this->renderList($this->list); ?>

As you can see, renderList fetches the list instance and transforms it into HTML.

image 79391

Let us make some improvements to the list. First of all, let us specify the default column for sorting via the options on creation of a pm_View_List_Simple class object.

$options = [
    'defaultSortField' => 'column-1',
    'defaultSortDirection' => pm_View_List_Simple::SORT_DIR_DOWN,
$list = new pm_View_List_Simple($this->view, $this->_request, $options);

In addition, it is possible to implement group operations. Add one line in setColumns parameters:

      'column-1' => [
          'title' => 'MyTest',

And then specify how the list toolbar should look like using the setTools method:

        'title' => 'Hide',
        'description' => 'Make selected rows invisible',
        'class' => 'sb-make-invisible',
        'execGroupOperation' => [
            'submitHandler' => 'function(url, ids) {
                $A(ids).each(function(id) {
                    $("' . $list->getId() . '")
                        .select("[name=\'listCheckbox[]\'][value=\'" + id.value + "\']")
    ], [
        'title' => 'Remove',
        'description' => 'Remove selected rows',
        'class' => 'sb-remove-selected',
        'execGroupOperation' => $this->_helper->url('remove'),

image 79392

As you can see, you can directly handle the action in JavaScript as in the Hide button example. Or submit the values (selected rows) to some action, where they will be processed as in the Remove button example. Also, you can read more details how to implement the list.

Step 5. Add a toolbar

Let us add a toolbar with two buttons to the third tab by changing the toolsAction() method in IndexController.php so that it looks like this:

public function toolsAction()
        // Tools for pm_View_Helper_RenderTools
        $this->view->tools = [
                'icon' => pm_Context::getBaseUrl() . "images/hosting-setup.png",
                'title' => 'Example',
                'description' => 'Example extension with UI samples',
                'link' => pm_Context::getBaseUrl(),
                'icon' => pm_Context::getBaseUrl() . "images/databases.png",
                'title' => 'Extensions',
                'description' => 'Extensions installed in Plesk',
                'link' => pm_Context::getModulesListUrl(),

The code demonstrates that to add a toolbar item, you need to specify its properties - icon, title, description, and link. Here, the context (pm_Context) is used to generate the link URLs. Make sure to initialize the context before using it - usually, it is done in htdocs/index.php (in this example the context is initilaized at the very beginning, at step 1). Another thing to note is that pm_Context::getBaseUrl() generates the path to the /htdocs directory of the extension. In our example, the first icon will be retrieved from /htdocs/img/site-aps_32.gif

Once the toolbar is ready, render it together with tabs by adding the following lines to /plib/views/scripts/index/tools.phtml:

<?php echo $this->renderTabs($this->tabs); ?>
<?php echo $this->renderTools($this->tools); ?>

The renderTools method will render the toolbar to HTML.

image 79394

Congratulations! You are almost done with Exercise 1, the only thing left is to add the extension description.

Step 6. Describe the extension

You have the meta.xml file in the extension’s root directory. This file contains information about your extension which is visible to Plesk administrators in the extension catalog and after they install the extension in Plesk the system. Feel free to change it according to your needs (keep in mind that the extension ID in your code and in the meta file must match). Read more details about the possible values in meta.xml here.

Step 7. Install and test the extension

Congratulations! You have completed the exercise. To install your extension in Plesk:

  1. Add the contents of the ex1 directory (not the directory itself) to a ZIP archive using your favorite software.

    Note: Ensure that meta.xml resides in the root of the unpacked archive. This is a very important requirement, otherwise Plesk will return an error on adding your extension to Plesk.

  2. Log in to Plesk as the administrator, go to Server Management > Extensions, remove the current version of the extension, then add the extension.

Re-check the implemented functionality to make sure everything is available in the extension archive. You can use the completed extension available here for reference.