The Plugin API, dubbed "Workbench", is an upcoming feature that allows mod developers to easily add more content to the game. In contrast to mods, plugins will not require any alteration of the minecraft.jar file itself, although they will also be slightly limited in their featureset. The Bukkit team will help make the official Plugin API.
Initially called the Modding API, it has been planned in some capacity since at least July 5, 2010, shortly after the release of Alpha 1.0.1_01. It was then stated to be released in Beta 1.8. The Modding API was then rebranded as the Plugin API, with the release originally stated to be planned for 1.3, then for 1.4, and then it was accidentally stated by Curse that it would be implemented in 1.5, but has since been delayed.
The following features are planned as part of the Plugin API:
- Plugins will be targeted at multiplayer, eventually extending into singleplayer as well.
- It aims to support directly adding plugins by allowing installation directly in the game, reducing time and effort to install modifications, and making them less prone to accidentally destroying the game.
- The Minecraft website will be revamped, helping to bring the most interesting community plugins and custom maps to the surface.
- It will be easier to add and animate models.
- It will change the way the game stores data regarding its many materials and items.
Resource packs were added in 1.6, and the release of a self-updating launcher for running newer versions of the game and allowing for more functionality makes it a step closer to the incorporation of the Plugin API. However, resource packs are not to be used for adding plugins, a separate API is to be used to accomplish this. Rather, resource packs simply modify the look and feel of the game, while plugins aim to change how the game functions.
At MineCon 2012, Mojang shared their vision for the future of the plugin API. The full presentation can be watched here:
As of October 26, 2013, the Plugin API/Workbench cannot be found on its GitHub page. Furthermore, the developer website has also been taken offline (http://dev.minecraft.net). However, Dinnerbone has mentioned that many changes made in the past few years have been preparation for the Modding API.