Writing Plugins

Oban supports the use of plugins to extend its base functionality. A plugin is any module that begins a process and exposes a start_link/1 function. That means a plugin may be a GenServer, an Agent, a Task, or any other OTP behaviour that manages a process. Realistically you'll want a long lived process to complement Oban's behaviour, which makes a GenServer or GenStateMachine ideal.

Upon startup, Oban dynamically injects each plugin into its supervision tree and passes a few base options along with any custom configuration for the plugin.

Every plugin receives these base options:

  • :conf — An Oban.Config struct, which contains all of the options provided to Oban.start_link/1 in a validated and normalized form.
  • :name — A unique via tuple scoped to the current supervision tree. The name may be used later to support helper/interface functions.

Example Plugin

Let's look at a tiny example plugin to get a feel for how options are passed in and how they run. Our plugin will periodically generate a table of counts for each queue / state combination and then print it out. It isn't an amazingly useful plugin, but it demonstrates how to handle options, work with the Oban.Config struct, and periodically interact with the oban_jobs table.

defmodule MyApp.Plugins.Breakdown do
  use GenServer

  import Ecto.Query, only: [group_by: 3, select: 3]

  def start_link(opts) do
    name = Keyword.get(opts, :name, __MODULE__)

    GenServer.start_link(__MODULE__, opts, name: name)

  @impl GenServer
  def init(opts) do
    state = Map.new(opts)

    {:ok, schedule_poll(state)}

  @impl GenServer
  def handle_info(:poll, %{conf: conf} = state) do
    breakdown =
        |> group_by([j], [j.queue, j.state])
        |> select([j], {j.queue, j.state, count(j.id)})


    {:noreply, schedule_poll(state)}

  defp schedule_poll(%{interval: interval}) do
    Process.send_after(self(), :poll, interval)


The plugin's start_link/1 function expects a keyword list with :name, :conf, and :interval values. After extracting the :name for process registration, it passes the options through to init/1. The init function converts the keyword list of options into a map for easier access and then begins a polling loop.

Each iteration of the loop will query the oban_jobs table and print out a list of {queue, state, count} tuples like this:

  {"default", "executing", 8},
  {"default", "retryable", 1},
  {"default", "completed", 3114},
  {"default", "discarded", 1},
  {"events", "scheduled", 3},
  {"events", "executing", 21},
  {"events", "retryable", 2},
  {"events", "completed", 1783},
  {"events", "discarded", 1},

Now all that is left is to adding the Breakdown module to Oban's plugin list:

config :my_app, Oban,
  plugins: [
    {MyApp.Plugins.Breakdown, interval: :timer.seconds(10)}

In the configuration we're only providing the :interval value. Oban injects the :name and :conf automatically.

Calling Interface Functions

Plugins are named dynamically using via tuples, which is an effective way to manage process registration for multiple unique Oban instances. However, it makes writing interface functions for plugins a little more complicated. The solution is to make use of the Oban.Registry for process discovery.

Imagine adding a pause interface function to the Breakdown plugin we built above:

alias Oban.Registry

def pause(oban_name \\ Oban) do
  |> Registry.whereis({:plugin, __MODULE__})
  |> GenServer.call(:pause)

The function accepts an oban_name argument with a default of Oban, which is the default name for an Oban supervision tree. It then calls whereis/2 with a {:plugin, plugin_name} tuple and uses the returned pid to call the plugin process.

You can then call pause/1 from elsewhere in the application:


# or



Plugins run directly within Oban's supervision tree. A badly behaving plugin, e.g. a plugin that crashes repeatedly, may bring down the entire supervision tree. Be sure that your plugin has safety mechanisms in place to prevent repeated crashes during startup.