Plugin checks

Error Prone supports custom checks via a plugin mechanism. Plugin checks are loaded dynamically from the annotation processor path using java.util.ServiceLoader.

Using AutoService to specify the service descriptor is recommended.


Plugin checks are implemented exactly the same way as the built-in checks, except for the @AutoService(BugChecker.class) annotation:

@AutoService(BugChecker.class) // the service descriptor
  name = "MyCustomCheck",
  // ...
public class MyCustomCheck extends BugChecker implements MethodInvocationTreeMatcher {
  public Description matchMethodInvocation(MethodInvocationTree tree, VisitorState state) {
    // TODO:

Build system support

Plugin checks should work with any build system that allows setting the annotation processor classpath.


Bazel allows annotation processors to be configured using the java_plugin rule:

    name = "MyCustomCheckPlugin",
    srcs = [""],
    deps = [

For a complete example, see: examples/plugin/bazel.


Starting in version 3.5, maven-compiler-plugin allows the processor path to be configured with the annotationProcessorPaths parameter.

For a complete example, see: examples/plugin/maven.


Gradle does not (yet) have built-in support for setting the processor path, but its flexibility makes it relatively easy to do manually:

configurations {

dependencies {
  annotationProcessor project(':custom-checks')

tasks.withType(JavaCompile) {
  options.compilerArgs += [ '-processorpath', configurations.annotationProcessor.asPath ]

Gradle plugins exist that also offer this configurability: net.ltgt.apt for standard Java projects, or android-apt or the experimental new Android toolchain for Android projects.

For a complete example using the net.ltgt.apt plugin, see: examples/plugin/gradle.

Command-Line Arguments

Plugin checkers can accept additional configuration flags by defining a single-argument constructor taking an ErrorProneFlags object (see the flags docs). However, note that plugin checkers must also define a zero-argument constructor, as they are loaded by a ServiceLoader. The actual checker instance used by Error Prone will be constructed using the ErrorProneFlags constructor.