Plugins

Plugins really show off the power of Binary Ninja. This guide should help give you an overview of both using and writing plugins.

The most common Binary Ninja plugins are Python which we are covering here. That said, there are some C++ plugins which must be built for the appropriate native architecture and will usually include build instructions for each platform. Several C++ examples are included in the API repository.

Using Plugins

Plugins are loaded from the user's plugin folder:

  • OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/Binary Ninja/plugins/
  • Linux: ~/.binaryninja/plugins/
  • Windows: %APPDATA%\Binary Ninja\plugins

Note that plugins installed via the PluginManager API are installed in the repositories folder in the same path as the previous plugin folder listed above. You should not need to manually touch anything in that folder, but should access them via the API instead.

Manual installation

You can manually install a plugin either by adding a folder which contains it (the plugin folder must contain an __init__.py at the top of the folder, or a python file can be included directly in the plugin folder though this is not recommended).

Note, if manually cloning the api repository, make sure to:

git submodule update --init --recursive

after cloning or else the submodules will not actually be downloaded.

Installing via the API

Binary Ninja now offers a PluginManager API which can simplify the process of finding and installing plugins. From the console:

>>> mgr = RepositoryManager()
>>> dir(mgr)
['__class__', '__delattr__', '__dict__', '__doc__', '__format__', '__getattribute__', '__hash__', '__init__', '__module__', '__new__', '__reduce__', '__reduce_ex__', '__repr__', '__setattr__', '__sizeof__', '__str__', '__subclasshook__', '__weakref__', 'add_repository', 'check_for_updates', 'default_repository', 'disable_plugin', 'enable_plugin', 'handle', 'install_plugin', 'plugins', 'repositories', 'uninstall_plugin', 'update_plugin']
>>> mgr.plugins
{'default': [<binaryninja-bookmarks not-installed/disabled>, <binaryninja-msp430 not-installed/disabled>, <binaryninja-radare2 not-installed/disabled>, <binaryninja-spu not-installed/disabled>, <binja-avr not-installed/disabled>, <binja_smali not-installed/disabled>, <binjatron not-installed/disabled>, <binoculars not-installed/disabled>, <easypatch not-installed/disabled>, <liil installed/enabled>, <list_comments not-installed/disabled>, <x64dbgbinja not-installed/disabled>]}
>>> mgr.install_plugin(easypatch)
True
>>> mgr.enable(easypatch)
True

Then just restart, and your plugin will be loaded.

Installing Prerequisites

Because Windows ships with an embedded version of Python, if you want to install plugins inside that Python, you'll need to either adjust your sys.path to include the locations for the other libraries (making sure they're compatible with the built-in version), or else install them directly in the environment via:

import pip
pip.main(['install', '--quiet', 'packagename'])

--quiet is required to minimize some of the normal output of pip that doesn't work within the context of our scripting console

For both OS X and Linux, Binary Ninja can utilize the built in system Python so any installed packages should be available there via whatever typical mechanism you use.

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting many Binary Ninja problems is helped by enabling debug logs and logging the output to a file. Just launch Binary Ninja with

/Applications/Binary\ Ninja.app/Contents/MacOS/binaryninja -d -l /tmp/bnlog.txt

And check /tmp/bnlog.txt when you're done.

Writing Plugins

First, take a look at some of the example plugins, or some of the community plugins to get a feel for different APIs you might be interested in. Of course, the full API docs are online and available offline via the Help/Open API Reference....

To start, we suggest you download the sample plugin as a template since it contains all of the elements you're likely to need.

  • Begin by editing the plugin.json file
  • Next, update the LICENSE
  • For small scripts, you can include all the code inside of __init__.py, though we recommend for most larger scripts that init just act as an initializer and call into functions organized appropriately in other files.

UI Elements

While it is possible to use Qt to directly create UI enhancements to Binary Ninja, we don't recommend it. First, there's a chance that we'll change UI platforms in the future (in particular because Qt's QWidget performance is actually getting worse with newer versions and they're trying to move everyone to QTQuick which might as well be Electron). Secondly, it is much more difficult for other users to install your plugin given the much more complicated dependencies and cross-platform headache of setup.

The officially supported mechanism (until the 1.2 release which will include much more featureful UI API enhancements) are available from the interaction API and shown off in the angr and nampa plugins.

Testing

It's useful to be able to reload your plugin during testing. On the Commercial edition of Binary Ninja, this is easily accomplished with a stand-alone headless install using import binaryninja after installing the API. (install_api.py is included in every install in the installation folder)

For the Personal edition, we recommend simply commenting out the register_ function normally used to register the plugin via whatever mechanism it uses and instead simply using the built-in Python console along with the python reload function to load new changes and test them by directly calling functions in the module. This work-around unfortunately is not supported for Binary View or Architecture plugins which unfortunately do require a restart to test if not running on Commercial.