Plugins allow you to extend the functionality of your BIDS app before and after parsing CLI arguments. For example, you can use a plugin to perform BIDS validation of your Snakebids app’s input, which ensures your app is only executed if the input dataset is valid. You can either use those that are distributed with Snakebids (see Using plugins) or create your own plugins (see Creating plugins).


For a full list of plugins distributed with Snakebids, see the Plugins reference page.

Nearly all of the functionality provided by snakebids.bidsapp is provided by plugins, including SnakemakeBidsApp.

Unlike in libraries such as pytest, plugins must be explicitly enabled to be included in the app. Installing them with pip is not enough! This affords a great deal of control over how the BIDS app is executed.

Using plugins

To add plugins to your bidsapp, pass them to the SnakeBidsApp constructor via the plugins parameter. Plugins are executed in LIFO order (last in, first out).

As an example, the BidsValidator plugin can be used to run the BIDS Validator on the input directory like so:

1from snakebids import bidsapp, plugins
4    plugins.SnakemakeBidsApp("path/to/snakebids/app"),
5    plugins.BidsValidator,


Some plugins depend on other plugins. These dependencies will be loaded even if not specified in If a dependency needs explicit configuration, however, they may still be safely provided in app initialization, as snakebids will prevent duplicate registration.

For example, SnakemakeBidsApp depends on BidsArgs, CliConfig, ComponentEdit, etc, but these plugins may still be specified to change their configuration. The order of specification will be respected (e.g. LIFO).

1from snakebids import bidsapp, plugins
4    plugins.SnakemakeBidsApp("path/to/snakebids/app"),
5    # specify the BidsArgs plugin to override the argument group
6    plugins.BidsArgs(argument_group="MAIN"),

Creating plugins

Plugins are implemented using pluggy, the plugin system used and maintained by pytest. Actions are executed in one of several hooks. These are called at specified times as the argument parser is built, arguments are parsed, and the config is formatted.

A plugin is a class or module with methods or functions wrapped with the snakebids plugin hook decorator: snakebids.bidsapp.hookimpl. The name of the function determines the stage of app initialization at which it will be called. Each recognized function name (known as specs) comes with a specified set of available arguments. Not all the available arguments need to be used, however, they must be given the correct name. The API documentation contains the complete list of available specs, their corresponding initialization stages, and the arguments they can access.

As an example, a simplified version of the bids-validator plugin that runs the BIDS Validator could be defined as follows:

 1import argparse
 2import subprocess
 3from typing import Any
 5from snakebids import bidsapp
 7class BidsValidator:
 8    """Perform BIDS validation of dataset
10    Parameters
11    -----------
12    app
13        Snakebids application to be run
14    """
16    @bidsapp.hookimpl
17    def add_cli_arguments(self, parser: argparse.ArgumentParser):
18        parser.add_argument("--skip-validation", dest="plugins.validator.skip")
20    @bidsapp.hookimpl
21    def finalize_config(self, config: dict[str, Any]) -> None:
22        # Skip bids validation
23        if config["plugins.validator.skip"]:
24            return
26        try:
28                ["bids-validator", config["bids_dir"]], check=True
29            )
30        except subprocess.CalledProcessError as err:
31            raise InvalidBidsError from err
34class InvalidBidsError(SnakebidsPluginError):
35    """Error raised if input BIDS dataset is invalid,
36    inheriting from SnakebidsPluginError.
37    """

In this example, two hooks were used. The add_cli_arguments() hook is called before CLI arguments are parsed. Here, it adds an argument allowing end users of our app to skip bids validation. Note that the spec specifies three arguments available to this hook (parser, config, and argument_groups), however, we only used parser here.


When adding plugin-specific parameters to the config dictionary, it is recommended to use namespaced keys (e.g. plugins.validator.skip). This will help ensure plugin-specific parameters do not conflict with other parameters already defined in the dictionary or by other plugins.

The finalize_config() hook is called after config is updated with the results of argument parsing. In our plugin, this is where validation is actually performed. Note how the argument added in the previous hook is now read from config. Any modifications made to config will be carried forward into the app’s remaining lifetime.

A plugin can be used to implement any logic that can be handled by a Python function. In the above example, you may also want to add some logic to check if the BIDS Validator is installed and pass along a custom error message if it is not. Created plugins can then be used within a Snakebids workflow, similar to the example provided in Using plugins section. Prospective plugin developers can take a look at the source of the snakebids.plugins module for examples.


When creating a custom error for your Snakebids plugin, it is recommended to inherit from SnakebidsPluginError such that errors will be recognized as a plugin error.

Specifying dependencies

Dependencies may be specified using a DEPENDENCIES attribute in your plugin class or module. It should be set to a tuple containing fully initialized plugin references. These dependencies will be registered after the depending plugin and therefore run first (due to pluggy’s LIFO order).

 1from snakebids import bidsapp, plugins
 3class MyPlugin:
 5        plugins.CliConfig(),
 6        plugins.BidsArgs(),
 7    )
 9    @bidsapp.hookimpl
10    def finalize_config(self, config):
11        ...