Services and Contributions

In this section we describe how extensions can use services from other extensions and how they can contribute to the Theia workbench.

Dependency Injection (DI)

Theia uses the DI framework Inversify.js to wire up the different components.

DI decouples a component from creating its dependencies. Instead, it gets them injected on creation (as parameters of a constructor). A DI container does the creation for you, based on some configuration you provide on startup through so-called container modules.

For instance, the Navigator widget needs access to a FileSystem to present folders and files in a tree. With DI the concretion of that FileSystem interface is not important to the Navigator widget. It can safely assume that an object consistent with the FileSystem interface is ready to use. In Theia, the used FileSystem concretion is just a proxy sending JSON-RPC messages to the backend, so it needs a particular configuration and treatment. The navigator doesn't need to care as it will get injected a fully working FileSystem instance.

Moreover, this decoupling of construction and use, allows extensions to provide their very specific implementations of e.g. a FileSystem if needed. Still without touching any users of the FileSystem interface.

DI is an integral part of Theia. Therefore, we highly recommend learning at least the basics of Inversify.js.


A service is just a binding for other components to use. For instance, one extension could expose the SelectionService so that others can get an instance injected and use it.


If an extension wants to provide a hook for others to contribute to, they should define a contribution-point. A contribution-point is just an interface that many others can implement. The extension will delegate to them when needed.

The OpenerService, for instance, defines a contribution point to allow others registering OpenHandlers. You can have a look at the code here.

Theia comes with an extensive list of contribution points already. A good way to see what contribution points exist is to do a find references on bindContributionProvider.

Contribution Providers

A contribution provider is basically a container for contributions where contributions are instances of a bound type.

It is very generic.

To bind a type to a contribution provider you can do like this:

(From messaging-module.ts)

export const messagingModule = new ContainerModule(bind => {
    bindContributionProvider(bind, ConnectionHandler)

The last line will bind a ContributionProvider to one that contains all ConnectionHandler bound instances.

It is used as such:

(From messaging-module.ts)

    constructor( @inject(ContributionProvider) @named(ConnectionHandler) protected readonly handlers: ContributionProvider<ConnectionHandler>) {

So here we're injecting a ContributionProvider with the named ConnectionHandler value that was bound before by bindContributionProvider.

This enables anyone to bind a ConnectionHandler and now when the messagingModule is started all the ConnectionHandlers will be initiated.

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