MSApp - Dave's Blog


Multiple Windows in Win10 JavaScript UWP apps

11 days ago

Win10 Changes

In Win8.1 JavaScript UWP apps we supported multiple windows using MSApp DOM APIs. In Win10 we use and window and a new MSApp API getViewId and the previous MSApp APIs are gone:

Win10 Win8.1
Create new window MSApp.createNewView
New window object window MSAppView
viewId MSApp.getViewId(window) MSAppView.viewId

WinRT viewId

We use and window for creating new windows, but then to interact with WinRT APIs we add the MSApp.getViewId API. It takes a window object as a parameter and returns a viewId number that can be used with the various Windows.UI.ViewManagement.ApplicationViewSwitcher APIs.

Delaying Visibility

Views in WinRT normally start hidden and the end developer uses something like TryShowAsStandaloneAsync to display the view once it is fully prepared. In the web world, shows a window immediately and the end user can watch as content is loaded and rendered. To have your new windows act like views in WinRT and not display immediately we have added a option. For example
let newWindow ="", null, "msHideView=yes");

Primary Window Differences

The primary window that is initially opened by the OS acts differently than the secondary windows that it opens:

Primary Secondary Allowed Disallowed
window.close Close app Close window
Navigation restrictions ACUR only No restrictions

The restriction on secondary windows such that they cannot open secondary windows could change in the future depending on feedback.

Same Origin Communication Restrictions

Lastly, there is a very difficult technical issue preventing us from properly supporting synchronous, same-origin, cross-window, script calls. That is, when you open a window that's same origin, script in one window is allowed to directly call functions in the other window and some of these calls will fail. postMessage calls work just fine and is the recommended way to do things if that's possible for you. Otherwise we continue to work on improving this.


MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync - JavaScript UWP app printing

2017 Oct 11, 5:49

The documentation for printing in JavaScript UWP apps is out of date as it all references MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource but that method has been replaced by MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync since WinPhone 8.1.


Previous to WinPhone 8.1 the WebView's HTML content ran on the UI thread of the app. This is troublesome for rendering arbitrary web content since in the extreme case the JavaScript of some arbitrary web page might just sit in a loop and never return control to your app's UI. With WinPhone 8.1 we added off thread WebView in which the WebView runs HTML content on a separate UI thread.

Off thread WebView required changing our MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource API which could no longer synchronously produce an HtmlPrintDocumentSource. With WebViews running on their own threads it may take some time for them to generate their print content for the HtmlPrintDocumentSource and we don't want to hang the app's UI thread in the interim. So the MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource API was replaced with MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync which returns a promise the resolved value of which is the eventual HtmlPrintDocumentSource.


However, the usage of the API is otherwise unchanged. So in sample code you see referencing MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource the sample code is still reasonable but you need to call MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync instead and wait for the promise to complete. For example the PrintManager docs has an example implementing a PrintTaskRequested event handler in a JavaScript UWP app.

    function onPrintTaskRequested(printEvent) {    
var printTask = printEvent.request.createPrintTask("Print Sample", function (args) {

Instead we need to obtain a deferral in the event handler so we can asynchronously wait for getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync to complete:

    function onPrintTaskRequested(printEvent) {    
var printTask = printEvent.request.createPrintTask("Print Sample", function (args) {
const deferral = args.getDeferral();
MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync(document).then(htmlPrintDocumentSource => {
}, error => {
console.error("Error: " + error.message + " " + error.stack);
PermalinkCommentsjavascript MSApp printing programming uwp webview win10 windows

JavaScript Microsoft Store app StartPage

2017 Jun 22, 8:58

JavaScript Microsoft Store apps have some details related to activation that are specific to JavaScript Store apps and that are poorly documented which I’ll describe here.

StartPage syntax

The StartPage attributes in the AppxManifest.xml (Package/Applications/Application/@StartPage, Package/Applications/Extensions/Extension/@StartPage) define the HTML page entry point for that kind of activation. That is, Application/@StartPage defines the entry point for tile activation, Extension[@Category="windows.protocol"]/@StartPage defines the entry point for URI handling activation, etc. There are two kinds of supported values in StartPage attributes: relative Windows file paths and absolute URIs. If the attribute doesn’t parse as an absolute URI then it is instead interpreted as relative Windows file path.

This implies a few things that I’ll declare explicitly here. Windows file paths, unlike URIs, don’t have a query or fragment, so if you are using a relative Windows file path for your StartPage attribute you cannot include anything like ‘?param=value’ at the end. Absolute URIs use percent-encoding for reserved characters like ‘%’ and ‘#’. If you have a ‘#’ in your HTML filename then you need to percent-encode that ‘#’ for a URI and not for a relative Windows file path.

If you specify a relative Windows file path, it is turned into an ms-appx URI by changing all backslashes to forward slashes, percent-encoding reserved characters, and combining the result with a base URI of ms-appx:///. Accordingly the relative Windows file paths are relative to the root of your package. If you are using a relative Windows file path as your StartPage and need to switch to using a URI so you can include a query or fragment, you can follow the same steps above.

StartPage validity

The validity of the StartPage is not determined before activation. If the StartPage is a relative Windows file path for a file that doesn’t exist, or an absolute URI that is not in the Application Content URI Rules, or something that doesn’t parse as a Windows file path or URI, or otherwise an absolute URI that fails to resolve (404, bad hostname, etc etc) then the JavaScript app will navigate to the app’s navigation error page (perhaps more on that in a future blog post). Just to call it out explicitly because I have personally accidentally done this: StartPage URIs are not automatically included in the Application Content URI Rules and if you forget to include your StartPage in your ACUR you will always fail to navigate to that StartPage.

StartPage navigation

When your app is activated for a particular activation kind, the StartPage value from the entry in your app’s manifest that corresponds to that activation kind is used as the navigation target. If the app is not already running, the app is activated, navigated to that StartPage value and then the Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication activated event is fired (more details on the order of various events in a moment). If, however, your app is already running and an activation occurs, we navigate or don’t navigate to the corresponding StartPage depending on the current page of the app. Take the app’s current top level document’s URI and if after removing the fragment it already matches the StartPage value then we won’t navigate and will jump straight to firing the WebUIApplication activated event.

Since navigating the top-level document means destroying the current JavaScript engine instance and losing all your state, this behavior might be a problem for you. If so, you can use the MSApp.pageHandlesAllApplicationActivations(true) API to always skip navigating to the StartPage and instead always jump straight to firing the WebUIApplication activated event. This does require of course that all of your pages all handle all activation kinds about which any part of your app cares.

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