I have already started creating a custom external plugin (using React) in Kibana 8.5 source code.
Can I install the same plugin in any version of Kibana, given I specify the same (version) when building the plugin?
In a document, I saw there are a couple of changes to me made in plugins.. when moving from version 7 to 8.
Are Kibana 8 plugins backward compatible?
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Kiaban doesn't support backwards compatibility between major versions, so if you try to install your 8.5 plugin in a 7.x version, it's not going to work out of the box.
If you really want to give it a try, then you could try to reverse engineer the breaking changes and code changes between 7 & 8 but it's probably going to take longer (and be more frustrating) than building the plugin from scratch directly in the 7.x code.
To summarize, no, Kibana 8 plugins aren't backward compatible across major versions.