Porting Firefox extensions to Internet Explorer Part 2


In the first part, I showed how to set up the tools you need to build a BHO. I’ve now created a skeleton project that will compile into a very simple BHO, TinyBHO. I wasn’t able to find any good official sample code, all the articles involve starting with a template, and describe how to build on it, but the SurfHelper example by Xiaolin Zhang on CodeProject was a great help. Having a complete example I could build and run gave me the information I needed to build my own.

To build the BHO, download and unzip the project, open the TinyBHO.vcproj file in Visual Studio Express, and hit f7 to build it. The build process should compile, and then add the DLL to the registry, and the next time you run Internet Explorer, a message box should appear whenever a document’s loaded. This provides all the boilerplate to hook into browser events, and provides a stub that you can insert your  own document processing logic into.

If we want to build on this, we’ll need your own GUIDs for the interface and type library. Use a tool like uuidgen or one of the online versions to generate three IDs, and then load the TinyBHO.idl file into VS’s editor. Replace the first ID that begins with 03147ee0 with our first ID, it should only appear once near the top of the .idl file.

The second ID we need to replace starts with 7cd37f36, and appears once in both TinyBHO.idl and TinyBHO.rgs. The third begins with 00e71626, and defines the main class’s ID. It occurs four times in TinyBHO.rgs and once in TinyBHO.idl. I’d also recommend customizing the class and file names, but that shouldn’t be strictly necessary for the BHO to coexist with others the way that unique GUIDs are.

Now we’ve got the BHO personalized, we can start looking at CTinyBHOClass::Invoke(), the function that gets called whenever a browser event, such as a page load or key press, occurs. Right now, all it does is catch document load events, and pulls the document interface pointer from the event, and shuts down the event handler when the browser quits. For PeteSearch, I’ll be focused on key presses and document loads, since that’s where it does most of its work, but there’s a wide range of other events to grab if you want to implement something else, like a popup blocker. In Firefox terms, it’s pretty close to having called AddEventListener() on the browser, except that you get called on all events and have to check yourself to figure out what happened.

The trickiest thing about getting this working was that all the ATL COM handling code is such a black box. The registration part of the build phase was failing, and I eventually tracked it down to a misspelt resource name, but there was no logging or other useful debug information available, I just had to spend a long time inspecting the code looking for anything suspicious!

More posts on porting Firefox add-ons to IE

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