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Executing JavaScript and WebAssembly

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JavaScript Evaluation

Jetpack library JavaScriptEngine provides a way for an application to evaluate JavaScript code without creating a WebView instance.

For applications requiring non-interactive JavaScript evaluation, using the JavaScript engine library has the following advantages:

  • Lower resource consumption, since there is no need to allocate a WebView instance.

  • Can be done in a Service (WorkManager task).

  • Multiple isolated environments with low overhead, enabling the application to run several JavaScript snippets simultaneously.

  • Ability to pass large amounts of data by using an API call.

Basic Usage

JavaScriptSandbox is supported on API 26 and above when the WebView version code is newer than 4951_024_00. Make sure the application checks the appropriate WebView version and the system API level before calling JavaScriptSandbox methods.

PackageInfo systemWebViewPackage = WebView.getCurrentWebViewPackage();
long versionCode = PackageInfoCompat.getLongVersionCode(systemWebViewPackage);
if (versionCode >= 4951_024_00L) {
   // move on with JavaScript Engine
} else {
   // WebView is too old, JavaScript Engine is not available
}

First of all, allocate a JavaScriptSandbox instance. It represents connection to the JavaScript Engine.

ListenableFuture<JavaScriptSandbox> jsSandboxFuture =
               JavaScriptSandbox.createConnectedInstanceAsync(context);

It’s recommended to align the lifecycle of the sandbox with the lifecycle of the component which needs JavaScript evaluation.

For example, a component hosting the sandbox may be an Activity or a Service. A single Service might be used to encapsulate JavaScript evaluation for all application components.

Maintain the JavaScriptSandbox instance because its allocation is fairly expensive. Only one JavaScriptSandbox instance per application is allowed. An exception is thrown when an application tries to allocate a second JavaScriptSandbox instance. However, if multiple execution environments are required, several JavaScriptIsolate instances might be allocated.

When it is no longer used, close the sandbox instance to free up resources. The JavaScriptSandbox instance implements an AutoCloseable interface, which allows the recommended try-with-resources usage for simple blocking use cases. Alternatively, make sure JavaScriptSandbox instance lifecycle is managed by the hosting component, closing it in onStop() callback for an Activity or during onDestroy() for a Service:

jsSandbox.close();

A JavaScriptIsolate instance represents a context for executing JavaScript code. They can be allocated when necessary, providing weak security boundaries for scripts of different origin or enabling concurrent JavaScript execution since JavaScript is single-threaded by its nature. Subsequent calls to the same instance share the state, hence it is possible to create some data first and then process it later in the same instance of JavaScriptIsolate.

JavaScriptIsolate jsIsolate = jsSandbox.createIsolate();

Release JavaScriptIsolate explicitly by calling its close() method. Using the try-with-resources construct is recommended since it implements AutoCloseable interface. Closing an isolate instance running JavaScript code (having an incomplete Future) results in an IsolateTerminatedException if implementation supports JS_FEATURE_ISOLATE_TERMINATION (see “Sandbox features” below). Otherwise, the cleanup is postponed until all pending evaluations are completed.

An application can create a JavaScriptIsolate instance from any thread. Due to JavaScript’s single-threading model, the JavaScriptIsolate usage is not thread-safe. So a JavaScriptIsolate instance can be accessed from a single thread or explicitly serialize access from different threads.

Now, the application is ready to execute some JavaScript code:

final String code = "function sum(a, b) { let r = a + b; return r.toString(); }; sum(3, 4)";
ListenableFuture<String> resultFuture = jsIsolate.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(code);
String result = resultFuture.get(5, TimeUnit.SECONDS);

The same JavaScript snippet formatted nicely:

function sum(a, b) {
    let r = a + b;
    return r.toString(); // make sure we return String instance
};

sum(3, 4) // calculate and return the result

The code snippet is passed as a String and the result delivered as a String. Note that the JavaScript code must return an object of JavaScript String type otherwise the library API returns an empty value. If the sandbox supports certain features, additional return types (For example, Promise resolving to a String) might be possible, see evaluateJavaScriptAsync(...) javadoc for more details.

Since the context persists, you can upload code and execute it several times during the lifetime of the JavaScriptIsolate:

String jsFunction = "function sum(a, b) { let r = a + b; return r.toString(); }";
ListenableFuture<String> func = js.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(jsFunction);
String twoPlusThreeCode = "let five = sum(2, 3); five";
ListenableFuture<String> r1 = Futures.transformAsync(func,
       input -> js.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(twoPlusThreeCode)
       , executor);
String twoPlusThree = r1.get(5, TimeUnit.SECONDS);

String fourPlusFiveCode = "sum(4, parseInt(five))";
ListenableFuture<String> r2 = Futures.transformAsync(func,
       input -> js.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(fourPlusFiveCode)
       , executor);
String fourPlusFive = r2.get(5, TimeUnit.SECONDS);

Of course, variables are persistent as well, so you can continue the previous snippet with:

String defineResult = "let result = sum(11, 22);";
ListenableFuture<String> r1 = Futures.transformAsync(func,
       input -> js.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(defineResult)
       , executor);
String unused = r1.get(5, TimeUnit.SECONDS);

String obtainValue = "result";
ListenableFuture<String> r2 = Futures.transformAsync(func,
       input -> js.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(obtainValue)
       , executor);
String value = r2.get(5, TimeUnit.SECONDS);

For example, the complete snippet for allocating all necessary objects and executing a JavaScript code might look like the below.

final ListenableFuture<JavaScriptSandbox> sandbox
       = JavaScriptSandbox.createConnectedInstanceAsync(this);
final ListenableFuture<JavaScriptIsolate> isolate
       = Futures.transform(sandbox,
               input -> (jsSandBox = input).createIsolate(),
               executor);
final ListenableFuture<String> js
       = Futures.transformAsync(isolate,
               isolate -> (jsIsolate = isolate).evaluateJavaScriptAsync("'PASS OK'"),
               executor);
Futures.addCallback(js,
       new FutureCallback<String>() {
           @Override
           public void onSuccess(String result) {
               text.append(result);
           }
           @Override
           public void onFailure(Throwable t) {
               text.append(t.getMessage());
           }
       },
       mainThreadExecutor);

It’s recommended that you use try-with-resources to make sure all allocated resources are released and are no longer used. Closing the sandbox instance automatically closes all allocated JavaScriptIsolate instances and pending evaluations throws IsolateTerminatedException.

Optional Sandbox Features

Depending on the underlying WebView version, a sandbox implementation might have different sets of features available. So, it’s necessary to query each required feature using JavaScriptSandbox.isFeatureSupported(...). It is important to check feature status before calling methods relying on these features.

JavaScriptIsolate methods that might not be available everywhere are annotated with RequiresFeature annotation, making it easier to spot these calls in the code.

Passing Parameters

Because all communications to the JavaScript engine happen through a Binder transaction, the general transaction size limit is applicable to every call passing or returning data. In practice, it means the application must limit the size of the passed Strings to hundreds of kilobytes.

The response is always returned as a String and is subject to the Binder transaction maximum size limit. Non-string values must be explicitly converted to a JavaScript String otherwise an empty string is returned. If JS_FEATURE_PROMISE_RETURN feature is supported, JavaScript code might return a Promise resolving to a String.

For passing large amounts of data to the JavaScriptIsolate instance, you can use the provideNamedData(...) API. The provideNamedData(...) API allows sending arbitrary amounts of data not limited by the Binder transaction size. Each data chunk must be passed using a unique identifier which cannot be re-used. The sending code and the JavasScript code must use the same algorithm for defining the chunk ID.

if (sandbox.isFeatureSupported(JavaScriptSandbox.JS_FEATURE_PROVIDE_CONSUME_ARRAY_BUFFER)) {
    js.provideNamedData("data-1", "Hello Android!".getBytes(StandardCharsets.UTF_8));
    final String jsCode = "android.consumeNamedDataAsArrayBuffer('data-1').then((value) => { return String.fromCharCode.apply(null, new Uint8Array(value)); });";
    ListenableFuture<String> msg = js.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(jsCode);
    String response = msg.get(5, TimeUnit.SECONDS);
}

Running WASM Code

WASM code can be passed using the provideNamedData(...) API, then compiled and executed in the usual manner, as demonstrated below.

final byte[] hello_world_wasm = {
   0x00 ,0x61 ,0x73 ,0x6d ,0x01 ,0x00 ,0x00 ,0x00 ,0x01 ,0x0a ,0x02 ,0x60 ,0x02 ,0x7f ,0x7f ,0x01,
   0x7f ,0x60 ,0x00 ,0x00 ,0x03 ,0x03 ,0x02 ,0x00 ,0x01 ,0x04 ,0x04 ,0x01 ,0x70 ,0x00 ,0x01 ,0x05,
   0x03 ,0x01 ,0x00 ,0x00 ,0x06 ,0x06 ,0x01 ,0x7f ,0x00 ,0x41 ,0x08 ,0x0b ,0x07 ,0x18 ,0x03 ,0x06,
   0x6d ,0x65 ,0x6d ,0x6f ,0x72 ,0x79 ,0x02 ,0x00 ,0x05 ,0x74 ,0x61 ,0x62 ,0x6c ,0x65 ,0x01 ,0x00,
   0x03 ,0x61 ,0x64 ,0x64 ,0x00 ,0x00 ,0x09 ,0x07 ,0x01 ,0x00 ,0x41 ,0x00 ,0x0b ,0x01 ,0x01 ,0x0a,
   0x0c ,0x02 ,0x07 ,0x00 ,0x20 ,0x00 ,0x20 ,0x01 ,0x6a ,0x0b ,0x02 ,0x00 ,0x0b,
};
final String jsCode = "android.consumeNamedDataAsArrayBuffer('wasm-1').then(" +
       "(value) => { return WebAssembly.compile(value).then(" +
       "(module) => { return new WebAssembly.Instance(module).exports.add(20, 22).toString(); }" +
       ")})";
boolean success = js.provideNamedData("wasm-1", hello_world_wasm);
if (success) {
    FluentFuture.from(js.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(jsCode))
           .transform(this::println, mainThreadExecutor)
           .catching(Throwable.class, e -> println(e.getMessage()), mainThreadExecutor);
} else {
   // the data chunk name has been used before, use a different name
}

JavaScriptIsolate Separation

All JavaScriptIsolate instances are independent of each other and do not share anything. The following snippet results in

Hi from AAA!5

and

Uncaught Reference Error: a is not defined

because the ”jsTwo” instance has no visibility of the objects created in “jsOne”.

JavaScriptIsolate jsOne = engine.obtainJavaScriptIsolate();
String jsCodeOne = "let x = 5; function a() { return 'Hi from AAA!'; } a() + x";
JavaScriptIsolate jsTwo = engine.obtainJavaScriptIsolate();
String jsCodeTwo = "a() + x";
FluentFuture.from(jsOne.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(jsCodeOne))
       .transform(this::println, mainThreadExecutor)
       .catching(Throwable.class, e -> println(e.getMessage()), mainThreadExecutor);

FluentFuture.from(jsTwo.evaluateJavaScriptAsync(jsCodeTwo))
       .transform(this::println, mainThreadExecutor)
       .catching(Throwable.class, e -> println(e.getMessage()), mainThreadExecutor);

Errors

  • When attempting to use an explicitly closed instance (by using close()), or if the framework cancels the sandbox process, a SandboxDeadException is thrown.

  • When a JavaScript evaluation is terminated because the JavaScriptIsolate is explicitly closed (by using close()), an IsolateTerminatedException indicates the condition.

  • When the JavaScript engine encounters an error in the JavaScript code, an EvaluationFailedException is thrown.

  • If WebView implementation does not support heap size adjustments, JavaScriptSandbox.createIsolate(IsolateStartupParameters) might throw a RuntimeException. To avoid the error, before reconfiguring the heap size, use JavaScriptSandbox.isFeatureSupported(JavaScriptSandbox.JS_FEATURE_ISOLATE_MAX_HEAP_SIZE).

  • Do not attempt to create more than one JavaScriptSandbox. It results in an IllegalStateException. When multiple connections are attempted it produces a “Binding to already bound service when calling createConnectedInstanceAsync() more than once” message. Applications must not attempt parsing the message.

  • Older versions of WebView do not support the JavaScript engine. If an application is installed on a device that has an older version of WebView, attempting to allocate a JavaScriptSandbox instance throws a runtime exception.

Configuration Parameters

When requesting an isolated environment instance, you can tweak its configuration. To tweak the configuration, pass the IsolateStartupParameters instance to JavaScriptSandbox.createIsolate(...).

Currently parameters allow specifying the maximum heap size. If the WebView implementation does not support heap size adjustments, JavaScriptSandbox.createIsolate(IsolateStartupParameters) might throw a RuntimeException.