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Subtleties of postMessage

2013 Jul 15, 1:00

In IE10 and other new browsers one may create MessageChannel objects that have two MessagePorts each connected (w3c spec calls it entangled) to one another such that postMessage on one port results in the message event firing on the other. You can pass an array of ports as the last parameter to postMessage and they show up in the ports property of the message event arg.

Origin

The postMessage here is like the worker postMessage and unlike the window and iframe postMessage in that it applies no origin checking:

  1. No origin postMessage in workers and MessagePorts: postMessage(messageData, ports)
  2. Origin postMessage in windows and iframes: postMessage(messageData, targetOrigin, ports)

Unfortunately the origin isn't an optional parameter at the end to make the two postMessages have the same signature.

On the event handler side, the event arg always has an origin property. But in the no origin case it is always the empty string.

Source

There is also a source property on the message event arg which if set is an object that has a postMessage property allowing you to post back to your caller. It is set for the origin case, however, in the no origin case this property is null. This is somewhat reasonable because in the case of MessagePort and Workers there are only two endpoints so you always know the source of a message implicitly. Unlike the origin case in which any iframe or window can be calling postMessage on any other iframe or window and the caller is unknown. So not unreasonable but it would be nice if the source property was always set for consistency.

MessageChannel start

When a MessageChannel is created it has two MessagePorts, but until those ports are started they will queue up any messages they receive. Once started they will dispatch all queued messages. Ports don't have to be started to send messages.

A port may be started in two ways, either by explicitly calling the start method on the port, or by setting the onmessage callback property on the port. However, adding an event listener via addEventListener("message", does not start the port. It works this way in IE and Chrome and the spec states this as well.

The justification is that since you can have only one callback via onmessage that once set you must implicitly be ready to receive messages and its fine to start the port. As opposed to the addEventListener in which case the user agent cannot start implicitly because it doesn't know how many event listeners will be added.  I found Hixie stating this justification in geoloc meeting notes.

Links

W3C Spec

Opera introduction

PermalinkCommentsDOM html javascript postMessage technical web-worker worker

Understanding Enhanced Protected Mode

2012 Mar 23, 1:18

Eric Lawrence describes the new security features of IE10.

PermalinkCommentstechnical ie10 security ie web-browser eric-lawrence

HTML5 Table Flipper Experiment

2012 Mar 2, 1:02

The goal of this experiment was to combine the flipping tables emoticons with the Threw It On The Ground video using shiny new HTML5-ish features and the end result is the table flipper flipping the Threw It On the Ground video.

The table flipper emoticon is CSS before content that changes on hover. Additionally on hover a CSS transform is applied to flip the video upside down several times and move it to the right and there's a CSS transition to animate the flipping. The only issue I ran into is that (at least on Windows) Flash doesn't like to have CSS transform rotations applied to it. So to get the most out of the flip experiment you must opt-in to HTML5 video on YouTube. And of course you must use a browser that supports the various things I just mentioned, like the latest Chrome (or not yet released IE10).

PermalinkCommentscss-transform flipping-tables css-transition html5-video technical threw-it-on-the-ground

Client Side Cross Domain Data YQL Hack

2012 Feb 27, 2:28

One of the more limiting issues of writing client side script in the browser is the same origin limitations of XMLHttpRequest. The latest version of all browsers support a subset of CORS to allow servers to opt-in particular resources for cross-domain access. Since IE8 there's XDomainRequest and in all other browsers (including IE10) there's XHR L2's cross-origin request features. But the vast majority of resources out on the web do not opt-in using CORS headers and so client side only web apps like a podcast player or a feed reader aren't doable.

One hack-y way around this I've found is to use YQL as a CORS proxy. YQL applies the CORS header to all its responses and among its features it allows a caller to request an arbitrary XML, HTML, or JSON resource. So my network helper script first attempts to access a URI directly using XDomainRequest if that exists and XMLHttpRequest otherwise. If that fails it then tries to use XDR or XHR to access the URI via YQL. I wrap my URIs in the following manner, where type is either "html", "xml", or "json":

        yqlRequest = function(uri, method, type, onComplete, onError) {
var yqlUri = "http://query.yahooapis.com/v1/public/yql?q=" +
encodeURIComponent("SELECT * FROM " + type + ' where url="' + encodeURIComponent(uri) + '"');

if (type == "html") {
yqlUri += encodeURIComponent(" and xpath='/*'");
}
else if (type == "json") {
yqlUri += "&callback=&format=json";
}
...

This also means I can get JSON data itself without having to go through JSONP.
PermalinkCommentsxhr javascript yql client-side technical yahoo xdr cors
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