Grafana documentation Developers Build a plugin Develop with a local environment
Enterprise Open source

Develop with a local environment

Follow the steps in this guide to set up a development environment where you run Grafana and your plugin locally. With this setup, you can see your changes as you add them.

Run Grafana in your host

To clone and run Grafana locally:

  1. Download and set up Grafana. Refer to the developer-guide.

  2. Grafana looks for plugins, by default, in its data/plugins directory. You can create a symbolic link to your plugin repository to detect new changes:

    ln -s <plugin-path>/dist data/plugins/<plugin-name>
  3. Optional: If the preceding step doesn’t work for you (for example, if you are running on Windows), then modify the default path in the Grafana configuration. Find the default path at conf/custom.ini) and point it to your plugin’s directory:

    plugins = <path-to-your-plugin-parent-directory>

Run Grafana with docker-compose

Another option is to run Grafana with docker-compose so that it runs in a container. To do so, create the docker-compose file in your plugin directory.

Note: If your plugin already includes a docker-compose file, then skip this step.
version: '3.7'

    # Change latest with your target version, if needed
    image: grafana/grafana:latest
      - 3000:3000/tcp
      # Use your plugin folder (for example, redshift-datasource)
      - ./dist:/var/lib/grafana/plugins/<plugin-folder>
      - ./provisioning:/etc/grafana/provisioning
      - TERM=linux
      - GF_LOG_LEVEL=debug
      - GF_DEFAULT_APP_MODE=development

Run your plugin in development mode

Finally, start your plugin in development mode. Go to your plugin’s root directory and follow these steps:

  1. Build your plugin backend and start the frontend in watch mode:

    mage -v
    yarn watch
  2. Start the Grafana backend and frontend:

    1. For a local copy of Grafana, go to the directory with Grafana source code and run:
    make run
    yarn start
    1. Or, with docker-compose, in your plugin directory, run:
    docker-compose up

After this, you should be able to see your plugin listed in Grafana, and then you can test your changes.

If you make a change in the frontend, you must refresh your browser. However, changes in the backend may require that you rebuild your plugin binaries and reload the plugin (mage && mage reloadPlugin for local development, or run docker-compose up again if you are using docker-compose).

Run your backend plugin with a debugger

Note: The following method only works with a local Grafana instance and currently doesn’t work with Docker.

Running a backend plugin with a debugger is supported in Visual Studio Code and GoLand out of the box, but it can also work with any other IDE or debugger.

You can run a backend plugin and attach a debugger to it, which allows you to set breakpoints and debug your backend plugin directly from your IDE of choice:

  1. Go to your plugin’s folder.

  2. Check your go.mod to make sure grafana-plugin-sdk-go are at least on v0.156.0

    • If not, update it to the latest version:
      go get -u
  3. Build your plugin at least once:

    yarn build && mage
  4. Install your plugin into your local Grafana instance.

Now that your plugin is ready to run, follow the instructions bellow for your IDE of choice.

Visual Studio Code

  1. If it’s not already present, go to your plugin’s folder and place the following file inside .vscode/launch.json:

      "version": "0.2.0",
      "configurations": [
          "name": "Standalone debug mode",
          "type": "go",
          "request": "launch",
          "mode": "debug",
          "program": "${workspaceFolder}/pkg",
          "env": {},
          "args": ["-standalone"]
  2. Press F5 to run your plugin in debug mode.

  3. If Grafana isn’t already running, run it.

If you re-run the configuration, Grafana automatically reloads the plugin.


  1. Create a new Run/Debug configuration:

    • Run kind: Package
    • Package path: your pkg package
    • Program arguments: -standalone
  2. Run the config (with or without the debugger).

  3. If Grafana isn’t already running, run it.

Note: If you re-run the configuration, Grafana automatically reloads the plugin.

Other IDEs

Configure your code editor to run the following steps:

  1. Build the executable file with debug flags.

    mage build:debug
  2. Run the plugin’s executable file (inside dist) with -standalone -debug flags.

    ./gpx_xyz_linux_amd64 -standalone -debug
  3. Attach a debugger to the process.

  4. If Grafana isn’t already running, run it.

If you re-run the configuration, Grafana automatically reloads the plugin.


  • All logs are printed in the plugin’s stdout rather than in Grafana logs.
  • If the backend plugin doesn’t serve requests after you turn off debug mode, you can force a reset to the standalone mode. To do so, delete the files dist/standalone.txt, dist/pid.txt, and the executable file, and then restart Grafana.
  • Grafana doesn’t support debugging backend plugins running inside Docker. But this is a planned enhancement.