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Changing the User Agent string in UWP WebView

2018 Oct 23, 9:32

There's no perfect way to change the user agent string for the UWP WebView (x-ms-webview in HTML, Windows.UI.Xaml.Controls.WebView in XAML, and Windows.Web.UI.Interop.WebViewControl in Win32) but there are two imperfect methods folks end up using.

The first is to call UrlMkSetSessionOption. This is an old public API that allows you to configure various arcane options including one that is the default user agent string for requests running through urlmon. This API is allowed by the Microsoft Store for UWP apps. The change it applies is process wide which has two potential drawbacks. If you want to be able to have different UA strings set for different requests from a WebView that's not really possible with this solution. The other drawback is if you're using out of process WebView, you need to ensure you're calling into UrlMkSetSessionOption in the WebView's process. You'll need to write third party WinRT that calls UrlMkSetSessionOption, create the out of proc WebView, navigate it to some trusted local page, use AddWebAllowedObject or provide that URI WinRT access, and call into your third party WinRT. You'll need to do that for any new WebView process you create.

The second less generally applicable solution is to use NavigateWithHttpRequestMessage and set the User-Agent HTTP header. In this case you get to control the scope of the user agent string changes but has the limitations that not all sub resource downloads will use this user agent string and for navigations you don't initiate you have to manually intercept and re-request being careful to transfer over all POST body state and HTTP headers correctly. That last part is not actually possible for iframes.

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GoBack/GoForward in Win10 UWP WebView

2018 Oct 23, 9:18

The GoBack and GoForward methods on the UWP WebView (x-ms-webview in HTML, Windows.UI.Xaml.Controls.WebView in XAML, and Windows.Web.UI.Interop.WebViewControl in Win32) act the same as the Back and Forward buttons in the Edge browser. They don't necessarily change the top level document of the WebView. If inside the webview an iframe navigates then that navigation will be recorded in the forward/back history and the GoBack / GoForward call may result in navigating that iframe. This makes sense as an end user using the Edge browser since if I click a link to navigate one place and then hit Back I expect to sort of undo that most recent navigation regardless of if that navigation happened in an iframe or the top level document.

If that doesn't make sense for your application and you want to navigate forward or back ignoring iframe navigates, unfortunately there's no perfect workaround.

One workaround could be to try calling GoBack and then checking if a FrameNavigationStarting event fires or a NavigationStarting event fires. If a frame navigates then try calling GoBack again. There could be async races in this case since other navigates could come in and send you the wrong signal and interrupt your multi step GoBack operation.

You could also try keeping track of all top level document navigations and manually navigate back to the URIs you care about. However, GoBack and GoForward also restore some amount of user state (form fills etc) in addition to navigating. Manually calling navigate will not give this same behavior.

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Win10 PWA Terminology

2018 May 31, 8:26

Folks familiar with JavaScript UWP apps in Win10 have often been confused by what PWAs in Win10 actually are. TLDR: PWAs in Win10 are simply JavaScript UWP apps. The main difference between these JS UWP Apps and our non-PWA JS UWP apps are our target end developer audience, and how we get Win10 PWAs into the Microsoft Store. See this Win10 blog post on PWAs on Win10 for related info.

Web App

On the web a subset of web sites are web apps. These are web sites that have app like behavior - that is a user might call it an app like Outlook, Maps or Gmail. And they may also have a W3C app manifest.

A subset of web apps are progressive web apps. Progressive web apps are web apps that have a W3C app manifest and a service worker. Various OSes are beginning to support PWAs as first class apps on their platform. This is true for Win10 as well in which PWAs are run as a WWA.

Windows Web App

In Win10 a WWA (Windows Web App) is an unofficial term for a JavaScript UWP app. These are UWP apps so they have an AppxManifest.xml, they are packaged in an Appx package, they run in an App Container, they use WinRT APIs, and are installed via the Microsoft Store. Specific to WWAs though, is that the AppxManifest.xml specifies a StartPage attribute identifying some HTML content to be used as the app. When the app is activated the OS will create a WWAHost.exe process that hosts the HTML content using the EdgeHtml rendering engine.

Packaged vs Hosted Web App

Within that we have a notion of a packaged web app and an HWA (hosted web app). There's no real technical distinction for the end developer between these two. The only real difference is whether the StartPage identifies remote HTML content on the web (HWA), or packaged HTML content from the app's appx package (packaged web app). An end developer may create an app that is a mix of these as well, with HTML content in the package and HTML content from the web. These terms are more like ends on a continuum and identifying two different developer scenarios since the underlying technical aspect is pretty much identical.

Win10 PWA

Win10 PWAs are simply HWAs that specify a StartPage of a URI for a PWA on the web. These are still JavaScript UWP apps with all the same behavior and abilities as other UWP apps. We have two ways of getting PWAs into the Microsoft Store as Win10 PWAs. The first is PWA Builder which is a tool that helps PWA end developers create and submit to the Microsoft Store a Win10 PWA appx package. The second is a crawler that runs over the web looking for PWAs which we convert and submit to the Store using an automated PWA Builder-like tool to create a Win10 PWA from PWAs on the web (see Welcoming PWAs to Win10 for more info). In both cases the conversion involves examining the PWAs W3C app manifest and producing a corresponding AppxManifest.xml. Not all features supported by AppxManifest.xml are also available in the W3c app manifest. But the result of PWA Builder can be a working starting point for end developers who can then update the AppxManifest.xml as they like to support features like share targets or others not available in W3C app manifests.

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Tiny browser features: JSBrowser crash resistance

2018 May 13, 4:59

JSBrowser is a basic browser built as a Win10 JavaScript UWP app around the WebView HTML element. Its fun and relatively simple to implement tiny browser features in JavaScript and in this post I'm implementing crash resistance.

The normal DOM mechanisms for creating an HTML WebView create an in-process WebView, in which the WebView runs on a unique UI thread. But we can use the MSWebView constructor instead to create an out-of-process WebView in which the WebView runs in its own distinct WebView process. Unlike an in-process WebView, Web content running in an out-of-process WebView can only crash the WebView process and not the app process.

        this.replaceWebView = () => {
let webview = document.querySelector("#WebView");
// Cannot access webview.src - anything that would need to communicate with the webview process may fail
let oldSrc = browser.currentUrl;
const webviewParent = webview.parentElement;
webviewParent.removeChild(webview);
webview = new MSWebView();
Object.assign(this, {
"webview": webview
});
webview.setAttribute("id", "WebView");

// During startup our currentUrl field is blank. If the WebView has crashed
// and we were on a URI then we may obtain it from this property.
if (browser.currentUrl && browser.currentUrl != "") {
this.trigger("newWebview");
this.navigateTo(browser.currentUrl);
}
webviewParent.appendChild(webview);

I run replaceWebView during startup to replace the in-process WebView created via HTML markup with an out-of-process WebView. I could be doing more to dynamically copy styles, attributes, etc but I know what I need to set on the WebView and just do that.

When a WebView process crashes the corresponding WebView object is no longer useful and a new WebView element must be created. In fact if the old WebView object is used it may throw and will no longer have valid state. Accordingly when the WebView crashes I run replaceWebView again. Additionally, I need to store the last URI we've navigated to (browser.currentUrl in the above) since the crashed WebView object won't know what URI it is on after it crashes.

            webview.addEventListener("MSWebViewProcessExited", () => { 
if (browser.currentUrl === browser.lastCrashUrl) { ++browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount;
}
else {
browser.lastCrashUrl = browser.currentUrl;
browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount = 1;
}
// If we crash again and again on the same URI, maybe stop trying to load that URI.
if (browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount >= 3) {
browser.lastCrashUrl = "";
browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount = 0;
browser.currentUrl = browser.startPage;
}
this.replaceWebView();
});

I also keep track of the last URI that we recovered and how many times we've recovered that same URI. If the same URI crashes more than 3 times in a row then I assume that it will keep happening and I navigate to the start URI instead.

PermalinkCommentsbrowser javascript jsbrowser uwp webview win10

Tiny browser features: JSBrowser zoom

2018 May 10, 3:49

JSBrowser is a basic browser built as a Win10 JavaScript UWP app around the WebView HTML element. Its fun and relatively simple to implement tiny browser features in JavaScript and in this post I'm implementing zoom.

My plan to implement zoom is to add a zoom slider to the settings div that controls the scale of the WebView element via CSS transform. My resulting zoom change is in git and you can try the whole thing out in my JSBrowser fork.

Slider

I can implement the zoom settings slider as a range type input HTML element. This conveniently provides me a min, max, and step property and suits exactly my purposes. I chose some values that I thought would be reasonable so the browser can scale between half to 3x by increments of one quarter. This is a tiny browser feature after all so there's no custom zoom entry.

<a><label for="webviewZoom">Zoom</label><input type="range" min="50" max="300" step="25" value="100" id="webviewZoom" /></a>

To let the user know this slider is for controlling zoom, I make a label HTML element that says Zoom. The label HTML element has a for attribute which takes the id of another HTML element. This lets the browser know what the label is labelling and lets the browser do things like when the label is clicked to put focus on the slider.

Scale

There are no explicit scale APIs for WebView so to change the size of the content in the WebView we use CSS.

        this.applyWebviewZoom = state => {
const minValue = this.webviewZoom.getAttribute("min");
const maxValue = this.webviewZoom.getAttribute("max");
const scaleValue = Math.max(Math.min(parseInt(this.webviewZoom.value, 10), maxValue), minValue) / 100;

// Use setAttribute so they all change together to avoid weird visual glitches
this.webview.setAttribute("style", [
["width", (100 / scaleValue) + "%"],
["height", "calc(" + (-40 / scaleValue) + "px + " + (100 / scaleValue) + "%)"],
["transform", "scale(" + scaleValue + ")"]
].map(pair => pair[0] + ": " + pair[1]).join("; "));
};

Because the user changes the scale at runtime I accordingly replace the static CSS for the WebView element with the script above to programmatically modify the style of the WebView. I change the style with one setAttribute call to do my best to avoid the browser performing unnecessary work or displaying the WebView in an intermediate and incomplete state. Applying the scale to the element is as simple as adding 'transform: scale(X)' but then there are two interesting problems.

The first is that the size of the WebView is also scaled not just the content within it. To keep the WebView the same effective size so that it still fits properly into our browser UI, we must compensate for the scale in the WebView width and height. Accordingly, you can see that we scale up by scaleValue and then in width and height we divide by the scaleValue.

transform-origin: 0% 0%;

The other issue is that by default the scale transform's origin is the center of the WebView element. This means when scaled up all sides of the WebView would expand out. But when modifying the width and height those apply relative to the upper left of the element so our inverse scale application to the width and height above aren't quite enough. We also have to change the origin of the scale transform to match the origin of the changes to the width and height.

PermalinkCommentsbrowser css-transform javascript JS jsbrowser uwp webview win10

Multiple Windows in Win10 JavaScript UWP apps

2018 Mar 10, 1:47

Win10 Changes

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

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

WinRT viewId

We use window.open 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, window.open 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 window.open option. For example
let newWindow = window.open("https://example.com", 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
window.open 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.

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Win10 UWP WebView AddWebAllowedObject details

2017 Sep 4, 3:09

The x-ms-webview HTML element has the void addWebAllowedObject(string name, any value) method and the webview XAML element has the void AddWebAllowedObject(String name, Object value) method. The object parameter is projected into the webview’s top-level HTML document’s script engine as a new property on the global object with property name set to the name parameter. It is not injected into the current document but rather it is projected during initialization of the next top-level HTML document to which the webview navigates.

Lifetime

If AddWebAllowedObject is called during a NavigationStarting event handler the object will be injected into the document resulting from the navigation corresponding to that event.

If AddWebAllowedObject is called outside of the NavigationStarting event handler it will apply to the navigation corresponding to the next explicit navigate method called on the webview or the navigation corresponding to the next NavigationStarting event handler that fires, whichever comes first.

To avoid this potential race, you should use AddWebAllowedObject in one of two ways: 1. During a NavigationStarting event handler, 2. Before calling a Navigate method and without returning to the main loop.

If called both before calling a navigate method and in the NavigationStarting event handler then the result is the aggregate of all those calls.

If called multiple times for the same document with the same name the last call wins and the previous are silently ignored.

If AddWebAllowedObject is called for a navigation and that navigation fails or redirects to a different URI, the AddWebAllowedObject call is silently ignored.

After successfully adding an object to a document, the object will no longer be projected once a navigation to a new document occurs.

WinRT access

If AddWebAllowedObject is called for a document with All WinRT access then projection will succeed and the object will be added.

If AddWebAllowedObject is called for a document which has a URI which has no declared WinRT access via ApplicationContentUriRules then Allow for web only WinRT access is given to that document.

If the document has Allow for web only WinRT access then projection will succeed only if the object’s runtimeclass has the Windows.Foundation.Metadata.AllowForWeb metadata attribute.

Object requirements

The object must implement the IAgileObject interface. Because the XAML and HTML webview elements run on ASTA view threads and the webview’s content’s JavaScript thread runs on another ASTA thread a developer should not create their non-agile runtimeclass on the view thread. To encourage end developers to do this correctly we require the object implements IAgileObject.

Property name

The name parameter must be a valid JavaScript property name, otherwise the call will fail silently. If the name is already a property name on the global object, that property is overwritten if the property is configurable. Non-configurable properties on the global object are not overwritten and the AddWebAllowedObject call fails silently. On success, the projected property is writable, configurable, and enumerable.

Errors

Some errors as described above fail silently. Other issues, such as lack of IAgileObject or lack of the AllowForWeb attribute result in an error in the JavaScript developer console.

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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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Application Content URI Rules wildcard syntax

2017 May 31, 4:48

Application Content URI Rules (ACUR from now on) defines the bounds of the web that make up the Microsoft Store application. Package content via the ms-appx URI scheme is automatically considered part of the app. But if you have content on the web via http or https you can use ACUR to declare to Windows that those URIs are also part of your application. When your app navigates to URIs on the web those URIs will be matched against the ACUR to determine if they are part of your app or not. The documentation for how matching is done on the wildcard URIs in the ACUR Rule elements is not very helpful on MSDN so here are some notes.

Rules

You can have up to 100 Rule XML elements per ApplicationContentUriRules element. Each has a Match attribute that can be up to 2084 characters long. The content of the Match attribute is parsed with CreateUri and when matching against URIs on the web additional wildcard processing is performed. I’ll call the URI from the ACUR Rule the rule URI and the URI we compare it to found during app navigation the navigation URI.

The rule URI is matched to a navigation URI by URI component: scheme, username, password, host, port, path, query, and fragment. If a component does not exist on the rule URI then it matches any value of that component in the navigation URI. For example, a rule URI with no fragment will match a navigation URI with no fragment, with an empty string fragment, or a fragment with any value in it.

Asterisk

Each component except the port may have up to 8 asterisks. Two asterisks in a row counts as an escape and will match 1 literal asterisk. For scheme, username, password, query and fragment the asterisk matches whatever it can within the component.

Host

For the host, if the host consists of exactly one single asterisk then it matches anything. Otherwise an asterisk in a host only matches within its domain name label. For example, http://*.example.com will match http://a.example.com/ but not http://b.a.example.com/ or http://example.com/. And http://*/ will match http://example.com, http://a.example.com/, and http://b.a.example.com/. However the Store places restrictions on submitting apps that use the http://* rule or rules with an asterisk in the second effective domain name label. For example, http://*.com is also restricted for Store submission.

Path

For the path, an asterisk matches within the path segment. For example, http://example.com/a/*/c will match http://example.com/a/b/c and http://example.com/a//c but not http://example.com/a/b/b/c or http://example.com/a/c

Additionally for the path, if the path ends with a slash then it matches any path that starts with that same path. For example, http://example.com/a/ will match http://example.com/a/b and http://example.com/a/b/c/d/e/, but not http://example.com/b/.

If the path doesn’t end with a slash then there is no suffix matching performed. For example, http://example.com/a will match only http://example.com/a and no URIs with a different path.

As a part of parsing the rule URI and the navigation URI, CreateUri will perform URI normalization and so the hostname and scheme will be made lower case (casing matters in all other parts of the URI and case sensitive comparisons will be performed), IDN normalization will be performed, ‘.’ and ‘..’ path segments will be resolved and other normalizations as described in the CreateUri documentation.

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Tweet from NASA Planetquest

2017 Jan 26, 10:25
See another solar system! These are real images of a 4-planet system ~130 light-years from . Read about it: http://go.nasa.gov/2kySSt1 
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Tweet from Neil deGrasse Tyson

2017 Jan 19, 9:39
Let's Make America Smart Again.
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Tweet from David Risney

2017 Jan 13, 12:54
Free startup idea: Legally binding "but you have to survive a night in a haunted house" clauses and infrastructure for hillarious wills.
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Tweet from Richard Rudge

2016 Nov 28, 6:19
This is best piece of Superman art I've seen in a long time, made by Brakken http://brakken.tumblr.com 
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Tweet from David Risney

2016 Oct 23, 4:24
Didn't know retrospective realization of "that was a date" is common to super-smart-afraid-of-conflict narcissist’s club. Thx to @hodgman
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Tweet from Alice Maz

2016 Oct 12, 7:00
here's what the electoral map would look like if we had four political parties none of which won two adjacent states
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Tweet from Lexi Alexander

2016 Oct 10, 5:15
Someone just asked me to smile as I was stepping out of the elevator, so I jumped in his face and yelled "BOOH".He almost had a heart attack
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Tweet from Michael Taggart

2016 Oct 9, 11:42
@BreetzTweetz @dwf In the late 22nd century, warp probes were launched to every corner of the galaxy containing the spec for H.264
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Tweet from David Risney

2016 Oct 8, 4:19
A runoff or ranked voting system could have really helped http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/opinion/howard-dean-how-to-move-beyond-the-two-party-system.html 
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Tweet from David Risney

2016 Sep 16, 12:10
@ericlaw "Any A.I. smart enough to pass a Turing test is smart enough to know to fail it." http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2440580-river-of-gods 
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Tweet from David Risney

2016 Sep 2, 8:53
Follow up question: If I'm mistakenly put on an email chain, should I hit "reply all" and link this NYT article? https://twitter.com/belong_io/status/771823316302606337 
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