Building add ons that work cross browser joshua allen joshuaa@microsoft com
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Building Add- Ons that Work Cross-Browser Joshua Allen <>. From Firefox to IE. Why Did You Start With Firefox?. Building for IE is Difficult More Controlled Test Bed Mike Arrington Uses Macintosh Your Developers Used Firebug. Why Port to IE?. Bigger Market Share

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Building add ons that work cross browser joshua allen joshuaa@microsoft com

Building Add-Ons that Work Cross-Browser

Joshua Allen <>

From Firefox to IE

Why did you start with firefox
Why Did You Start With Firefox?

  • Building for IE is Difficult

  • More Controlled Test Bed

  • Mike Arrington Uses Macintosh

  • Your Developers Used Firebug

Why port to ie
Why Port to IE?

  • Bigger Market Share

  • More Mainstream Users

  • Higher Bar to Entry for Your Competitors

The web is about interop
The Web is About Interop

  • Users: Things Work The Same on All Browsers

  • Developers: My Skills Work on All Browsers

  • Consider Starting With Both Browsers

Creating your add on
Creating Your Add-On

  • Design

  • Build

  • Test

  • Deploy


  • Use Web Standards

  • Consider Slices and Accelerators

An idealistic example oomph
An Idealistic Example: Oomph

  • Detect Microformats from Browser

    • Cross-Browser Tag for Page Owners

    • IE Toolbar – NOT for Firefox, Safari, etc.

  • Export to Outlook, Google Calendar, etc.



The purple is your code
The Purple is Your Code


Adding oomph to ie
Adding Oomph to IE

<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" src="">


  • Adding to Google Chrome with User Script

  • The same code in IE

Zomg c
ZOMG!! C++?!?

Oh, but it’s more than C++. You get ATL/COM!!!

Can i use c or python etc
Can I use C# (or Python, etc.)?

  • Only one version of CLR per iexplore.exe

  • That means CLR 1.1 or 2.0

  • Pay attention to breaking changes

  • Test both versions

  • Fail if wrong CLR version

  • You still need to interop with the C++ interfaces

Like xul only in c
Like XUL, Only in C++

  • IWebBrowser2

  • IHTMLDocument2

  • DWebBrowserEvents2

  • HTMLDocumentEvents2

Loading your add on
Loading Your Add-On

  • Finds Your DLL in Registry and Loads it

  • In-Process With Iexplore.exe

  • One Instance Per Tab

  • First DllMain, then SetSite

Step by step



Sidebar ui
Sidebar UI

  • We Call it “Vertical Explorer Bar” or “Web Band”

  • Default is Win32, but You Should Use WebOC

  • WebOC is our Rendering Engine, Like Gecko

  • Use Web Standards in WebOC for UI

  • Sample Project

Toolbar ui
Toolbar UI

  • Buttons: No Code Needed! But…

    • No Dynamic UI

    • No Split Button

    • No Forced Ordering

  • Tool Bands

    • All Win32

Protected mode
Protected Mode

  • Low Integrity (iexplore.exe): Cannot Modify Anything but Temporary Internet Files Folder

  • Medium Integrity (default): Can Modify Anything Except Program and System Folders and Other Users’ Data

  • High Integrity (installers): Can Modify Anything

Common issues
Common Issues

  • Access System Resources from Add-On

    • Use DCOM to user-mode broker

  • Call Your Add-On from JavaScript

    • Use ActiveX Control

    • Like XPCOM

    • Step-by-Step Lab

  • Access System Resources from JavaScript

    • ActiveX + DCOM

Common issues1
Common Issues

  • Web Services

    • Use Web Standards from AJAX (JSON, XML)

  • Persistence

    • Use cookies, Server State, or Plugin Library

  • Detect Tab Switching

  • Background Processing – Call Service Via DCOM

Common issues2
Common Issues

  • Mixed Content

    • Local Machine Zone (LMZ) is Separate. Use (Mark of the Web) MOTW to Force Local Web Pages into Internet Zone

    • Non-SSL on SSL Throws Error: Use SSL, or don’t MIX

  • Intercept Networking Events (Headers, Cookies)

    • Can’t Do It

    • Security Companies Write Proxies



  • IE Team Active on Forums

  • Forums Being Migrated

Testing and debugging
Testing and Debugging

  • Use IE8 on Vista

    • Most Restrictive Security

    • Good Developer Tools

    • IE7 Switcher

  • Visual Studio Elevated to Administrator

  • OutputDebugString

  • Test With Popular Toolbars Loaded


  • Use WiX v3 to create MSI

  • Need to Deploy DLL and Registry

  • Don’t do DllRegisterServer anymore


  • Per-User ActiveX