[webkit-dev] WebKit blog post proposal: Remote debugging with Web Inspector.

jamey.hicks at nokia.com jamey.hicks at nokia.com
Thu Aug 12 07:06:06 PDT 2010

On Aug 9, 2010, at 3:48 PM, ext Pavel Feldman wrote:

Hi guys,

As some of you know, we are working on a remote debugging feature in Web Inspector. There are many good reasons behind the project including the following:

- Debugging WebKit on embedded devices
- Shaping up a good protocol for ourselves
- Introducing external SDKs on top of the protocol for IDE integrations and alternate front-ends

We've had serialized interaction with the out-of-process inspector for quite a while in Chromium. We were upstreaming it into WebKit and have reached an important milestone recently: all the interaction between the inspected page and inspector is entirely serialized on the WebKit level. All the embedder needs to do is to implement a socket that would serve the inspector front-end files and provide our messaging with appropriate transport.

Now this socket is likely to be platform-specific, implemented on the WebKit and/or host browser levels. It also makes more sense to implement socket on mobile platforms first. However, we've done a proof-of-concept implementation in Chromium and it is now in a demoable state! See the screencast at http://screencast.com/t/YTI2OTY4YTEt. It has Chromium nightly to the left + WebKit nightly to the right. WebKit nightly connects remotely to Chromium over HTTP on the port 9222 and does remote debugging including DOM inspection, breakpoints and such. The communication is established by means of a WebSocket. The interesting thing about the implementation is that inspector front-end is fetched from the host browser, so that there is no mess with protocol versioning and no need in exposing the interaction protocol any time soon.

So I made the demo and it looked cool. I thought maybe we do a blog post on it. The blog post would draw attention to the Web Inspector and its progress, share the remote debugging vision with the interested parties and would simply look cool. Front-end is working as a pure HTML5 application (obviously full of WebKit-specific styles, but still) which is impressive. Now the project is nowhere complete in terms of finalizing the message format and the protocol itself, but there is no intention to expose it right now. We'd like to let it live with fetchable front-end and mature before we expose the protocol and commit to any level of interface support.

What do you think, is it ready for a blog post?

I think it is ready for a blog post. Nice work!

I've been leveraging your work to make remote Web Inspector work in QtWebKit. I've also been working on exposing a ChromeDevTools / V8 debugger protocol backend so that we can use an Eclipse IDE for W3C Widget and Qt WRT debugging. The IDE debugger backend is structured as an alternate front-end for Web Inspector. I submitted several patches to enable that, and I think our debugger backend is getting to a state where I'm willing to post that code as well.

Best regards,
Jamey Hicks

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