How do you use the Rack SDK with an existing plugin.

So I make JW-Modules by building rack and everything. I have a friend who wants to use the Rack SDK as a shortcut to that. How does one go about doing that after downloading the sdk. How do you install lets say JW-Modules and then run rack in a dev environment? I read the docs here but it mostly talks about the template which I don’t care about. Plugin Development Tutorial — VCV Rack documentation

  • Set up the development environment for your operating system: Building — VCV Rack documentation
  • Download the latest version of Rack SDK (1.1.6 at time of writing): Index of /downloads/
  • Unzip the Rack SDK folder and place it somewhere nice.
  • Make sure your shell knows where to find the Rack SDK folder by adding the $RACK_DIR environment variable. For example, I use zsh and in ~/.zshrc I have the following line: export RACK_DIR="/Users/alan/Documents/Rack-SDK". Restart your shell to make sure $RACK_DIR gets picked up. (I’m repeating what’s in the manual here. Sorry!).
  • Clone the repo for the plugin and cd into it. Doesn’t matter where that folder is. Check that you don’t need to initialise / clone any git submodules.
  • Run make dist. Because you added the $RACK_DIR environment variable the build setup knows where the Rack SDK folder is. The plugin should get built and placed in the dist folder.
  • I can’t answer the bit about a dev environment. When I build stuff I just use make install and open Rack. When I’ve tried using the -d flag with Rack I don’t understand what happens. :slight_smile: Installing & Running — VCV Rack documentation
  • Don’t forget the -j option when using make as it might reduce the build time.

Edit: Might be worth considering changing the plugin.json file so it doesn’t clash with the “real” JW-Modules plugin your friend may have installed.

1 Like

If I recall correctly, the method I used was to install the SDK, then create a subfolder called “plugins” in the SDK, then from there clone the githiub plugin repo we want, and then we’re ready to run make on the plugin. But this is only to build the plugin. When you say “and then run rack in a dev environment”, this is not clear since the SDK can’t execute Rack, it’s just to buid plugins only. So if they have the Release version of Rack installed, after building the plugin they can type “make install” and it will get copied over there for use in the normal Rack install. Hope this helps!


Thank you I think I just didn’t have a clue what the sdk did but now I see it is just to let you build the plugins. You need to put the plugins into rack to run them after.

True enough, but us “old schoolers” do use make run and make debug in the Rack folder to launch rack. But that is more about building and debugging rack itself. I guess with the SDK only approach you always run your plugins in a “real” build of rack. Obviously there are some niceties to having your own “dev build” of rack… At least I think there are.

Thank you!!! He was successfully able to build a plugin and put it into rack!!!

1 Like