time - Dave's Blog


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;
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

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.


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

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

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.


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.


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.


Application Content URI Rules rule ordering

2017 Jun 1, 1:30

Application Content URI Rules (ACUR from now on) defines the bounds on the web that make up a Microsoft Store application. The previous blog post discussed the syntax of the Rule's Match attribute and this time I'll write about the interactions between the Rules elements.


A single ApplicationContentUriRules element may have up to 100 Rule child elements. When determining if a navigation URI matches any of the ACUR the last Rule in the list with a matching match wildcard URI is used. If that Rule is an include rule then the navigation URI is determined to be an application content URI and if that Rule is an exclude rule then the navigation rule is not an application content URI. For example:

Rule Type='include' Match='https://example.com/'/
Rule Type='exclude' Match='https://example.com/'/

Given the above two rules in that order, the navigation URI https://example.com/ is not an application content URI because the last matching rule is the exclude rule. Reverse the order of the rules and get the opposite result.


In addition to determining if a navigation URI is application content or not, a Rule may also confer varying levels of WinRT access via the optional WindowsRuntimeAccess attribute which may be set to 'none', 'allowForWeb', or 'all'. If a navigation URI matches multiple different include rules only the last rule is applied even as it applies to the WindowsRuntimeAccess attribute. For example:

Rule Type='include' Match='https://example.com/' WindowsRuntimeAccess='none'/
Rule Type='include' Match='https://example.com/' WindowsRuntimeAccess='all'/

Given the above two rules in that order, the navigation URI https://example.com/ will have access to all WinRT APIs because the last matching rule wins. Reverse the rule order and the navigation URI https://example.com/ will have no access to WinRT. There is no summation or combining of multiple matching rules - only the last matching rule wins.

PermalinkCommentsapplication-content-uri-rules programming uri windows windows-store

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Dec 4, 9:30
@AGoldmund Its my morning two minute hate. And then again around lunch time. And also just whenever.

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 

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Nov 2, 9:30
Parsing WinRT metadata (winmd files) is much easier than last time I tried. There's support in .NET reflection APIs https://deletethis.net/dave/2016-11/Parsing+WinMD+with+.NET+reflection+APIs 

Parsing WinMD with .NET reflection APIs

2016 Nov 2, 6:13

Parsing WinMD files, the containers of WinRT API metadata, is relatively simple using the appropriate .NET reflection APIs. However, figuring out which reflection APIs to use is not obvious. I've got a completed C sharp class parsing WinMD files that you can check out for reference.

Use System.Reflection.Assembly.ReflectionOnlyLoad to load the WinMD file. Don't use the normal load methods because the WinMD files contain only metadata. This will load up info about APIs defined in that WinMD, but any references to types outside of that WinMD including types found in the normal OS system WinMD files must be resolved by the app code via the System.Reflection.InteropServices.WindowsRuntimeMetadata.ReflectionOnlyNamespaceResolve event.

In this event handler you must resolve the unknown namespace reference by adding an assembly to the NamespaceResolveEventArgs's ResolvedAssemblies property. If you're only interested in OS system WinMD files you can use System.Reflection.InteropServices.WindowsRuntimeMetadata.ResolveNamespace to turn a namespace into the expected OS system WinMD path and turn that path into an assembly with ReflectionOnlyLoad.

PermalinkComments.net code programming winmd winrt

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Oct 13, 6:19
TIME is really painting themselves into a corner. Still several weeks before election plus aftermath available for additional melting. https://twitter.com/TIME/status/786531960902524928 

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 

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Sep 19, 3:05
@David_Risney Scan reveals the creatures are passive and no threat. But... they're so... ugly. Time to leave this solar system forever.

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Aug 30, 10:33
@Kevecca Rewound to listen several times =)

WinRT Toast from PowerShell

2016 Jun 15, 3:54

I've made a PowerShell script to show system toast notifications with WinRT and PowerShell. Along the way I learned several interesting things.

First off calling WinRT from PowerShell involves a strange syntax. If you want to use a class you write [-Class-,-Namespace-,ContentType=WindowsRuntime] first to tell PowerShell about the type. For example here I create a ToastNotification object:

$toast = New-Object Windows.UI.Notifications.ToastNotification -ArgumentList $xml;
And here I call the static method CreateToastNotifier on the ToastNotificationManager class:
$notifier = [Windows.UI.Notifications.ToastNotificationManager]::CreateToastNotifier($AppUserModelId);
With this I can call WinRT methods and this is enough to show a toast but to handle the click requires a little more work.

To handle the user clicking on the toast I need to listen to the Activated event on the Toast object. However Register-ObjectEvent doesn't handle WinRT events. To work around this I created a .NET event wrapper class to turn the WinRT event into a .NET event that Register-ObjectEvent can handle. This is based on Keith Hill's blog post on calling WinRT async methods in PowerShell. With the event wrapper class I can run the following to subscribe to the event:

function WrapToastEvent {
param($target, $eventName);

Add-Type -Path (Join-Path $myPath "PoshWinRT.dll")
$wrapper = new-object "PoshWinRT.EventWrapper[Windows.UI.Notifications.ToastNotification,System.Object]";
$wrapper.Register($target, $eventName);

[void](Register-ObjectEvent -InputObject (WrapToastEvent $toast "Activated") -EventName FireEvent -Action {

To handle the Activated event I want to put focus back on the PowerShell window that created the toast. To do this I need to call the Win32 function SetForegroundWindow. Doing so from PowerShell is surprisingly easy. First you must tell PowerShell about the function:

Add-Type @"
using System;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;
public class PInvoke {
[DllImport("user32.dll")] [return: MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.Bool)]
public static extern bool SetForegroundWindow(IntPtr hwnd);
Then to call:
[PInvoke]::SetForegroundWindow((Get-Process -id $myWindowPid).MainWindowHandle);

But figuring out the HWND to give to SetForegroundWindow isn't totally straight forward. Get-Process exposes a MainWindowHandle property but if you start a cmd.exe prompt and then run PowerShell inside of that, the PowerShell process has 0 for its MainWindowHandle property. We must follow up process parents until we find one with a MainWindowHandle:

$myWindowPid = $pid;
while ($myWindowPid -gt 0 -and (Get-Process -id $myWindowPid).MainWindowHandle -eq 0) {
$myWindowPid = (gwmi Win32_Process -filter "processid = $($myWindowPid)" | select ParentProcessId).ParentProcessId;
PermalinkComments.net c# powershell toast winrt

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.

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

WinRT Launcher API in PowerShell

2016 Mar 31, 10:12
You can call WinRT APIs from PowerShell. Here's a short example using the WinRT Launcher API:
$uri = New-Object System.Uri "http://example.com/"
Note that like using WinRT in .NET, you use the System.Uri .NET class instead of the Windows.Foundation.Uri WinRT class which is not projected and under the covers the system will convert the System.Uri to a Windows.Foundation.Uri.

Retweet of CNNnewsroom

2016 Feb 11, 11:54
That time @BernieSanders & @realDonaldTrump joined @BrookeBCNN live on her set (kinda) h/t @TonyAtamanuik @JAdomian

Retweet of doctorow

2016 Feb 8, 5:08
A digital, 3D printed sundial whose precise holes cast a shadow displaying the current time https://boingboing.net/2016/02/09/a-digital-3d-printed-sundial.html … pic.twitter.com/zTSRoXL9a7

Cdb/Windbg Commands for Runtime Patching

2016 Feb 8, 1:47

You can use conditional breakpoints and debugging commands in windbg and cdb that together can amount to effectively patching a binary at runtime. This can be useful if you have symbols but you can't easily rebuild the binary. Or if the patch is small and the binary requires a great deal of time to rebuild.

Skipping code

If you want to skip a chunk of code you can set a breakpoint at the start address of the code to skip and set the breakpoint's command to change the instruction pointer register to point to the address at the end of the code to skip and go. Voila you're skipping over that code now. For example:

bp 0x6dd6879b "r @eip=0x6dd687c3 ; g"

Changing parameters

You may want to modify parameters or variables and this is simple of course. In the following example a conditional breakpoint ANDs out a bit from dwFlags. Now when we run its as if no one is passing in that flag.

bp wiwi!RelativeCrack "?? dwFlags &= 0xFDFFFFFF;g"

Slightly more difficult is to modify string values. If the new string length is the same size or smaller than the previous, you may be able to modify the string value in place. But if the string is longer or the string memory isn't writable, you'll need a new chunk of memory into which to write your new string. You can use .dvalloc to allocate some memory and ezu to write a string into the newly allocated memory. In the following example I then overwrite the register containing the parameter I want to modify:

.dvalloc 100
ezu 000002a9`d4eb0000 "mfcore.dll"
r rcx = 000002a9`d4eb0000

Calling functions

You can also use .call to actually make new calls to methods or functions. Read more about that on the Old New Thing: Stupid debugger tricks: Calling functions and methods. Again, all of this can be used in a breakpoint command to effectively patch a binary.

PermalinkCommentscdb debug technical windbg
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