Category Archives: Firefox

Things I’ve Learned This Week (April 13 – April 17, 2015)

When you send a sync message from a frame script to the parent, the return value is always an array

Example:

// Some contrived code in the browser
let browser = gBrowser.selectedBrowser;
browser.messageManager.addMessageListener("GIMMEFUE,GIMMEFAI", function onMessage(message) {
  return "GIMMEDABAJABAZA";
});

// Frame script that runs in the browser
let result = sendSendMessage("GIMMEFUE,GIMMEFAI");
console.log(result[0]);
// Writes to the console: GIMMEDABAJABAZA

From the documentation:

Because a single message can be received by more than one listener, the return value of sendSyncMessage() is an array of all the values returned from every listener, even if it only contains a single value.

I don’t use sync messages from frame scripts a lot, so this was news to me.

You can use [cocoaEvent hasPreciciseScrollingDeltas] to differentiate between scrollWheel events from a mouse and a trackpad

scrollWheel events can come from a standard mouse or a trackpad1. According to this Stack Overflow post, one potential way of differentiating between the scrollWheel events coming from a mouse, and the scrollWheel events coming from a trackpad is by calling:

bool isTrackpad = [theEvent hasPreciseScrollingDeltas];

since mouse scrollWheel is usually line-scroll, whereas trackpads (and Magic Mouse) are pixel scroll.

The srcdoc attribute for iframes lets you easily load content into an iframe via a string

It’s been a while since I’ve done web development, so I hadn’t heard of srcdoc before. It was introduced as part of the HTML5 standard, and is defined as:

The content of the page that the embedded context is to contain. This attribute
is expected to be used together with the sandbox and seamless attributes. If a
browser supports the srcdoc attribute, it will override the content specified in
the src attribute (if present). If a browser does NOT support the srcdoc
attribute, it will show the file specified in the src attribute instead (if
present).

So that’s an easy way to inject some string-ified HTML content into an iframe.

Primitives on IPDL structs are not initialized automatically

I believe this is true for structs in C and C++ (and probably some other languages) in general, but primitives on IPDL structs do not get initialized automatically when the struct is instantiated. That means that things like booleans carry random memory values in them until they’re set. Having spent most of my time in JavaScript, I found that a bit surprising, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’m slowly getting more comfortable working lower-level.

This was the ultimate cause of this crasher bug that dbaron was running into while exercising the e10s printing code on a debug Nightly build on Linux.

This bug was opened to investigate initializing the primitives on IPDL structs automatically.

Networking is ultimately done in the parent process in multi-process Firefox

All network requests are proxied to the parent, which serializes the results back down to the child. Here’s the IPDL protocol for the proxy.

On bi-directional text and RTL

gw280 and I noticed that in single-process Firefox, a <select> dropdown set with dir=”rtl”, containing an <option> with the value “A)” would render the option as “(A”.

If the value was “A) Something else”, the string would come out unchanged.

We were curious to know why this flipping around was happening. It turned out that this is called “BiDi”, and some documentation for it is here.

If you want to see an interesting demonstration of BiDi, click this link, and then resize the browser window to reflow the text. Interesting to see where the period on that last line goes, no?

It might look strange to someone coming from a LTR language, but apparently it makes sense if you’re used to RTL.

I had not known that.

Some terminal spew

Some terminal spew

Now what’s all this?

My friend and colleague Mike Hoye showed me the above screenshot upon coming into work earlier this week. He had apparently launched Nightly from the terminal, and at some point, all that stuff just showed up.

“What is all of that?”, he had asked me.

I hadn’t the foggiest idea – but a quick DXR showed basic_code_modules.cc inside Breakpad, the tool used to generate crash reports when things go wrong.

I referred him to bsmedberg, since that fellow knows tons about crash reporting.

Later that day, mhoye got back to me, and told me that apparently this was output spew from Firefox’s plugin hang detection code. Mystery solved!

So if you’re running Firefox from the terminal, and suddenly see some basic_code_modules.cc stuff show up… a plugin you’re running probably locked up, and Firefox shanked it.

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  1. And probably a bunch of other peripherals as well 

The Joy of Coding (Ep. 10): The Mystery of the Cache Key

In this episode, I kept my camera off, since I was having some audio-sync issues1.

I was also under some time-pressure, because I had a meeting scheduled for 2:30 ET2, giving me exactly 1.5 hours to do what I needed to do.

And what did I need to do?

I needed to figure out why an nsISHEntry, when passed to nsIWebPageDescriptor’s loadPage, was not enough to get the document out from the HTTP cache in some cases. 1.5 hours to figure it out – the pressure was on!

I don’t recall writing a single line of code. Instead, I spent most of my time inside XCode, walking through various scenarios in the debugger, trying to figure out what was going on. And I eventually figured it out! Read this footnote for the TL;DR:3

Episode Agenda

References

Bug 1025146 – [e10s] Never load the source off of the network when viewing sourceNotes

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  1. I should have those resolved for Episode 11! 

  2. And when the stream finished, I found out the meeting had been postponed to next week, meaning that next week will also be a short episode. :( 

  3. Basically, the nsIChannel used to retrieve data over the network is implemented by HttpChannelChild in the content process. HttpChannelChild is really just a proxy to a proper nsIChannel on the parent-side. On the child side, HttpChannelChild does not implement nsICachingChannel, which means we cannot get a cache key from it when creating a session history entry. With no cache key, comes no ability to retrieve the document from the network cache via nsIWebDescriptor’s loadPage. 

Things I’ve Learned This Week (April 6 – April 10, 2015)

It’s possible to synthesize native Cocoa events and dispatch them to your own app

For example, here is where we synthesize native mouse events for OS X. I think this is mostly used for testing when we want to simulate mouse activity.

Note that if you attempt to replay a queue of synthesized (or cached) native Cocoa events to trackSwipeEventWithOptions, those events might get coalesced and not behave the way you want. mstange and I ran into this while working on this bug to get some basic gesture support working with Nightly+e10s (Specifically, the history swiping gesture on OS X).

We were able to determine that OS X was coalescing the events because we grabbed the section of code that implements trackSwipeEventWithOptions, and used the Hopper Disassembler to decompile the assembly into some pseudocode. After reading it through, we found some logging messages in there referring to coalescing. We noticed that those log messages were only sent when NSDebugSwipeTrackingLogic was set to true, we executed this:

defaults write org.mozilla.nightlydebug NSDebugSwipeTrackingLogic -bool YES

In the console, and then re-ran our swiping test in a debug build of Nightly to see what messages came out. Sure enough, this is what we saw:

2015-04-09 15:11:55.395 firefox[5203:707] ___trackSwipeWithScrollEvent_block_invoke_0 coalescing scrollevents
2015-04-09 15:11:55.395 firefox[5203:707] ___trackSwipeWithScrollEvent_block_invoke_0 cumulativeDelta:-2.000 progress:-0.002
2015-04-09 15:11:55.395 firefox[5203:707] ___trackSwipeWithScrollEvent_block_invoke_0 cumulativeDelta:-2.000 progress:-0.002 adjusted:-0.002
2015-04-09 15:11:55.396 firefox[5203:707] ___trackSwipeWithScrollEvent_block_invoke_0 call trackingHandler(NSEventPhaseChanged, gestureAmount:-0.002)

This coalescing means that trackSwipeEventWithOptions is only getting a subset of the events that we’re sending, which is not what we had intended. It’s still not clear what triggers the coalescing – I suspect it might have to do with how rapidly we flush our native event queue, but mstange suspects it might be more sophisticated than that. Unfortunately, the pseudocode doesn’t make it too clear.

String templates and toSource might run the risk of higher memory use?

I’m not sure I “learned” this so much, but I saw it in passing this week in this bug. Apparently, there was some section of the Marionette testing framework that was doing request / response logging with toSource and some string templates, and this caused a 20MB regression on AWSY. Doing away with those in favour of old-school string concatenation and JSON.stringify seems to have addressed the issue.

When you change the remote attribute on a <xul:browser> you need to re-add the <xul:browser> to the DOM tree

I think I knew this a while back, but I’d forgotten it. I actually re-figured it out during the last episode of The Joy of Coding. When you change the remoteness of a <xul:browser>, you can’t just flip the remote attribute and call it a day. You actually have to remove it from the DOM and re-add it in order for the change to manifest properly.

You also have to re-add any frame scripts you had specially loaded into the previous incarnation of the browser before you flipped the remoteness attribute.1

Using Mercurial, and want to re-land a patch that got backed out? hg graft is your friend!

Suppose you got backed out, and want to reland your patch(es) with some small changes. Try this:

hg update -r tip
hg graft --force BASEREV:ENDREV

This will re-land your changes on top of tip. Note that you need –force, otherwise Mercurial will skip over changes it notices have already landed in the commit ancestry.

These re-landed changes are in the draft stage, so you can update to them, and assuming you are using the evolve extension2, and commit –amend them before pushing. Voila!

Here’s the documentation for hg graft.

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  1. We sidestep this with browser tabs by putting those browsers into “groups”, and having any new browsers, remote or otherwise, immediately load a particular set of framescripts. 

  2. And if you’re using Mercurial, you probably should be. 

The Joy of Coding (Ep. 9): More View Source Hacking!

In this episode1, I continued the work we had started in Episode 8, by trying to make it so that we don’t hit the network when viewing the source of a page in multi-process Firefox.

It was a little bit of a slog – after some thinking, I decided to undo some of the work we had done in the previous episode, and then I set up the messaging infrastructure for talking to the remote browser in the view source window.

I also rebased and landed a patch that we had written in the previous episode, after fixing up some nits2.

Then, I (re)-learned that flipping the “remote” attribute of a browser is not enough in order for it to run out-of-process; I have to remove it from the DOM, and then re-add it. And once it’s been re-added, I have to reload any frame scripts that I had loaded in the previous incarnation of the browser.

Anyhow, by the end of the episode, we were able to view the source from a remote browser inside a remote view source browser!3 That’s a pretty big deal!

Episode Agenda

References

Bug 1025146 – [e10s] Never load the source off of the network when viewing sourceNotes

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  1. A note that I also tried an experiment where I keep my camera running during the entire session, and place the feed into the bottom right-hand corner of the recording. It looks like there were some synchronization issues between audio and video, which are a bit irritating. Sorry about that! I’ll see what I can do about that. 

  2. and dropping a nit having conversed with :gabor about it 

  3. We were still loading it off the network though, so I need to figure out what’s going on there in the next episode. 

The Joy of Coding (Ep. 8): View Source Hacking

In this episode, I again started with some code review. I reviewed this patch for this bug by fellow Firefox hacker Gijs, and refreshed my memory on var hoisting. I’ve been using let for so long that it was really, really weird to see how var worked.

After that, I quickly gave an update on my plugin crash UI bug I had been working on the last episode – the patches are up, and are currently undergoing review, so there wasn’t much to do there.

Next, I started on a brand new bug1, explained the bug2, and then laid out my plan for attacking it.

Specifically, I’m going to try an experiment: I will only be working on that bug during Joy of Coding sessions. That way, there is continuity from video to video, and you won’t miss any of the development that goes on between episodes.

We sliced off a chunk to get done, and hit some minor roadblocks (as expected). The View Source code is old and crufty, and I have to do my best to make sure I don’t break any of the other applications that depend on it (like Thunderbird and SeaMonkey).

So that was the name of the game – looking to see how other applications use View Source, and trying to come up with a plan for making sure we don’t break them, while at the same time refactoring View Source to be easier to code against (and work with a frame script and messages).

It was a long slog3, but we got to a good point by the end. Let’s see how far we get next week!

Episode Agenda

References

Bug 1148807 – Method moveToAlertPosition in dialog.xml should check if opener is not null

Bug 1110887 – With e10s, plugin crash submit UI is brokenNotes

Bug 1025146 – [e10s] Never load the source off of the network when viewing sourceNotes

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  1. I say brand new, except that, as I explain in the video, I had already attacked this bug early on in my e10s work, and had only recently come back to it. 

  2. The View Source tool sometimes re-retrieves the source off of the network when opened from an e10s-browser 

  3. My longest episode ever, clocking in at over 2.5 hours.