browser - Dave's Blog


Tiny browser features: JSBrowser crash resistance

7 days ago

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;
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 != "") {

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;

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

10 days ago

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.


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.


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

Tweet from David Rousset

2016 Dec 6, 8:45
Creating an extension for all browsers: , , , & : 

Tweet from Jason Scott

2016 Nov 1, 2:06
Running Windows 3.1 in browser emulation on an XBOX One because that's a thing that happens

Tweet from gregwhitworth

2016 Jun 7, 1:43
Dear @google, please store my answer to this question so I don't see this every time I start a browser session.

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Jun 5, 4:10
I played Chrome, Edge, FF & IE against each other in WebDriverChess. Edge just beats out Firefox for #1. Results: 

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Jun 5, 3:55
I finished WebDriverChess : Two webdriver supporting browsers play a friendly game of chess.

Windows Store App WebView Cross Origin XMLHttpRequest Behavior

2016 Jun 2, 6:45

TL;DR: Web content in a JavaScript Windows Store app or WebView in a Windows Store app that has full access to WinRT also gets to use XHR unrestricted by cross origin checks.

By default web content in a WebView control in a Windows Store App has the same sort of limitations as that web content in a web browser. However, if you give the URI of that web content full access to WinRT, then the web content also gains the ability to use XMLHttpRequest unrestricted by cross origin checks. This means no CORS checks and no OPTIONS requests. This only works if the web content's URI matches a Rule in the ApplicationContentUriRules of your app's manifest and that Rule declares WindowsRuntimeAccess="all". If it declares WinRT access as 'None' or 'AllowForWebOnly' then XHR acts as it normally does.

In terms of security, if you've already given a page access to all of WinRT which includes the HttpRequest class and other networking classes that don't perform cross origin checks, then allowing XHR to skip CORS doesn't make things worse.

PermalinkCommentsjavascript uwa uwp web webview windows winrt xhr

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Jun 1, 1:51
Cool JS image diff'ing including browser webcam based demos 

JavaScript Types and WinRT Types

2016 Jan 21, 5:35

MSDN covers the topic of JavaScript and WinRT type conversions provided by Chakra (JavaScript Representation of Windows Runtime Types and Considerations when Using the Windows Runtime API), but for the questions I get about it I’ll try to lay out some specifics of that discussion more plainly. I’ve made a TL;DR JavaScript types and WinRT types summary table.

WinRT Conversion JavaScript
Struct ↔️ JavaScript object with matching property names
Class or interface instance JavaScript object with matching property names
Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet JavaScript object with arbitrary property names
Any DOM object

Chakra, the JavaScript engine powering the Edge browser and JavaScript Windows Store apps, does the work to project WinRT into JavaScript. It is responsible for, among other things, converting back and forth between JavaScript types and WinRT types. Some basics are intuitive, like a JavaScript string is converted back and forth with WinRT’s string representation. For other basic types check out the MSDN links at the top of the page. For structs, interface instances, class instances, and objects things are more complicated.

A struct, class instance, or interface instance in WinRT is projected into JavaScript as a JavaScript object with corresponding property names and values. This JavaScript object representation of a WinRT type can be passed into other WinRT APIs that take the same underlying type as a parameter. This JavaScript object is special in that Chakra keeps a reference to the underlying WinRT object and so it can be reused with other WinRT APIs.

However, if you start with plain JavaScript objects and want to interact with WinRT APIs that take non-basic WinRT types, your options are less plentiful. You can use a plain JavaScript object as a WinRT struct, so long as the property names on the JavaScript object match the WinRT struct’s. Chakra will implicitly create an instance of the WinRT struct for you when you call a WinRT method that takes that WinRT struct as a parameter and fill in the WinRT struct’s values with the values from the corresponding properties on your JavaScript object.

// C# WinRT component
public struct ExampleStruct
public string String;
public int Int;

public sealed class ExampleStructContainer
ExampleStruct value;
public void Set(ExampleStruct value)
this.value = value;

public ExampleStruct Get()
return this.value;

// JS code
var structContainer = new ExampleWinRTComponent.ExampleNamespace.ExampleStructContainer();
structContainer.set({ string: "abc", int: 123 });
console.log("structContainer.get(): " + JSON.stringify(structContainer.get()));
// structContainer.get(): {"string":"abc","int":123}

You cannot have a plain JavaScript object and use it as a WinRT class instance or WinRT interface instance. Chakra does not provide such a conversion even with ES6 classes.

You cannot take a JavaScript object with arbitrary property names that are unknown at compile time and don’t correspond to a specific WinRT struct and pass that into a WinRT method. If you need to do this, you have to write additional JavaScript code to explicitly convert your arbitrary JavaScript object into an array of property name and value pairs or something else that could be represented in WinRT.

However, the other direction you can do. An instance of a Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet implementation in WinRT is projected into JavaScript as a JavaScript object with property names and values corresponding to the key and value pairs in the IPropertySet. In this way you can project a WinRT object as a JavaScript object with arbitrary property names and types. But again, the reverse is not possible. Chakra will not convert an arbitrary JavaScript object into an IPropertySet.

// C# WinRT component
public sealed class PropertySetContainer
private Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet otherValue = null;

public Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet other
return otherValue;
otherValue = value;

public sealed class PropertySet : Windows.Foundation.Collections.IPropertySet
private IDictionary map = new Dictionary();

public PropertySet()
map.Add("abc", "def");
map.Add("ghi", "jkl");
map.Add("mno", "pqr");
// ... rest of PropertySet implementation is simple wrapper around the map member.

// JS code
var propertySet = new ExampleWinRTComponent.ExampleNamespace.PropertySet();
console.log("propertySet: " + JSON.stringify(propertySet));
// propertySet: {"abc":"def","ghi":"jkl","mno":"pqr"}

var propertySetContainer = new ExampleWinRTComponent.ExampleNamespace.PropertySetContainer();
propertySetContainer.other = propertySet;
console.log("propertySetContainer.other: " + JSON.stringify(propertySetContainer.other));
// propertySetContainer.other: {"abc":"def","ghi":"jkl","mno":"pqr"}

try {
propertySetContainer.other = { "123": "456", "789": "012" };
catch (e) {
console.error("Error setting propertySetContainer.other: " + e);
// Error setting propertySetContainer.other: TypeError: Type mismatch

There’s also no way to implicitly convert a DOM object into a WinRT type. If you want to write third party WinRT code that interacts with the DOM, you must do so indirectly and explicitly in JavaScript code that is interacting with your third party WinRT. You’ll have to extract the information you want from your DOM objects to pass into WinRT methods and similarly have to pass messages out from WinRT that say what actions the JavaScript should perform on the DOM.

PermalinkCommentschakra development javascript winrt

Retweet of JustRogDigiTec

2015 Nov 29, 2:58
@JustRogDigiTec A fiddle as well  in case it clarifies. Note: An older browser may not demo properly

Tweet from David_Risney

2015 Apr 12, 10:39
Does 'charset=utf8' work anywhere? Or do other browsers fallback to UTF-8 just giving the appearance? @ericlaw 

Retweet of stevefaulkner

2015 Mar 3, 2:49
browser support? "no clue" "I do not understand the point of this type. Neither do browsers." …

Retweet of mrlacey

2015 Mar 1, 6:42
Chrome is not one browser

Retweet of ivanristic

2015 Feb 26, 2:45
Blink browser engine: "Intent to deprecate: Insecure usage of powerful features"!msg/blink-dev/2LXKVWYkOus/gT-ZamfwAKsJ … < Pushing toward more HTTPS

A high-profile fork: one year of Blink and Webkit Some stats...

2014 Jun 3, 9:10

A high-profile fork: one year of Blink and Webkit

Some stats and analysis at a very high level of the Blink fork from Webkit.

PermalinkCommentstechnology browser webkit blink apple google

location.hash and are bad and they should feel bad

2014 May 22, 9:25
The DOM location interface exposes the HTML document's URI parsed into its properties. However, it is ancient and has problems that bug me but otherwise rarely show up in the real world. Complaining about mostly theoretical issues is why blogging exists, so here goes:
  • The location object's search, hash, and protocol properties are all misnomers that lead to confusion about the correct terms:
    • The 'search' property returns the URI's query property. The query property isn't limited to containing search terms.
    • The 'hash' property returns the URI's fragment property. This one is just named after its delimiter. It should be called the fragment.
    • The 'protocol' property returns the URI's scheme property. A URI's scheme isn't necessarily a protocol. The http URI scheme of course uses the HTTP protocol, but the https URI scheme is the HTTP protocol over SSL/TLS - there is no HTTPS protocol. Similarly for something like mailto - there is no mailto wire protocol.
  • The 'hash' and 'search' location properties both return null in the case that their corresponding URI property doesn't exist or if its the empty string. A URI with no query property and a URI with an empty string query property that are otherwise the same, are not equal URIs and are allowed by HTTP to return different content. Similarly for the fragment. Unless the specific URI scheme defines otherwise, an empty query or hash isn't the same as no query or hash.
But like complaining about the number of minutes in an hour none of this can ever change without huge compat issues on the web. Accordingly I can only give my thanks to Anne van Kesteren and the awesome work on the URL standard moving towards a more sane (but still working practically within the constraints of compat) location object and URI parsing in the browser.

Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer...

2014 Apr 28, 9:39

Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer games Space War! emulated in JavaScript in the browser.

This entry covers the historical context of Space War!, and instructions for working with our in-browser emulator. The system doesn’t require installed plugins (although a more powerful machine and recent browser version is suggested).

The JSMESS emulator (a conversion of the larger MESS project) also contains a real-time portrayal of the lights and switches of a Digital PDP-1, as well as links to documentation and manuals for this $800,000 (2014 dollars) minicomputer.

PermalinkCommentscomputer-game game video-game history internet-archive

The decline of the mobile web...

2014 Apr 8, 6:49

The decline of the mobile web

PermalinkCommentstechnical web browser mobile phone

FitBit and WebOC Application Compatibility Errors

2013 Aug 29, 7:17
I just got a FitBit One from my wife. Unfortunately I had issues running their app on my Windows 8.1 Preview machine. But I recognized the errors as IE compatibility issues, for instance an IE dialog popup from the FitBit app telling me about an error in the app's JavaScript. Given my previous post on WebOC versioning you may guess what I tried next. I went into the registry and tried out different browser mode and document mode versions until I got the FitBit software running without error. Ultimately I found the following registry value to work well ('FitBit connect.exe' set to DWORD decimal 8888).
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

"Fitbit Connect.exe"=dword:000022b8

For those familiar with the Windows registry the above should be enough. For those not familiar, copy and paste the above into notepad, save as a file named "fitbit.reg", and then double click the reg file and say 'Yes' to the prompt. Hopefully in the final release of Windows 8.1 this won't be an issue.
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