MSHTML Hosting – Odds & Ends

In this post I wanted to cover some miscellaneous things you may want to do with your embedded WebBrowser. On its own, the IWebBrowser2 interface does not support doing much more than we already covered in previous posts. However, if you start
using the MSHTML DOM interfaces, much more functionality is available. Here is a list of simple things you can implement without too much difficulty:

  • Retrieving HTML from the WebBrowser.
  • Retrieving the HTML of the current selection.
  • Finding text in the HTML and selecting it.
  • Creating an image of the current HTML.

Retrieving HTML from the WebBrowser

There are times when you might want to get the currently loaded HTML from the control. You may want to save it to a file or parse it for information. For this functionality, you have to use the IPersistXxx interfaces. These are the same we used to load HTML into the WebBrowser from memory. The same works in reverse:

IHTMLDocument2* pDoc = ...;
IStream* pMyStream = ...;

IPersistStreamInit* pPersist = 0;
HRESULT hr = pDoc->QueryInterface(IID_IPersistStreamInit, (void**)&pPersist);
if (SUCCEEDED(hr) && pPersist) {
    hr = pPersist->Save(pMyStream, true);

Retrieving the HTML of the current selection

If you want to limit the HTML to just what a user has selected, instead of the entire document, we can use the IHTMLXxx COM interfaces. The first thing you need to do is get access to the IHTMLDocument interface for the current document. IWebBrowser2 gives you access using it’s Document property. The Document property returns an IDispatch interface, so we need to QueryInterface the IDispatch interface for an IHTMLDocument interface, like so (raw C++):

IDispatch* pDocDisp = 0;
HRESULT hr = pWebBrowser->get_Document(&pDocDisp);

IHTMLDocument2* pDoc = 0;
hr = pDocDisp->QueryInterface(IID_IHTMLDocument2, (void**)&pDoc);
if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {




The IHTMLXxx interfaces follow the W3C DOM specification used for JavaScript very closely. If your familiar with those objects, the IHTMLXxx interface will be easy to grasp. In fact, if you know how to do something using JavaScript, you can duplicate it your compiled code using the IHTMLXxx interfaces.

That said, you can get the current selection as a IHTMLTxtRange from the document element. Once you have a text range, you can retrieve the plain text or HTML text as shown below:

IHTMLDocument2* pDoc = ...;

IHTMLSelectionObject* pSelection = 0;
HRESULT hr = pDoc->get_selection(&pSelection);
if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
   IDispatch* pDispRange = 0;
   hr = pSelection->createRange(&pDispRange);
   if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
      IHTMLTxtRange* pTextRange = 0;
      hr = pDispRange->QueryInterface(IID_IHTMLTxtRange, (void**)&pTextRange);
      if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
         CComBSTR sText;
         // or


Finding text in the HTML and selecting it

The Google toolbar in IE does this to make it easy to spot keywords found in the page. We are using body and text range objects. This time we are making a IHTMLTxtRange object, not getting the current selection. IHTMLTxtRange has find and select methods that make this task easy. Be sure to check out the parameters for IHTMLTxtRange::findText as they can be used to modify how the text is searched:

IHTMLDocument2* pDoc = ...;
IHTMLElement* pBodyElem = 0;
HRESULT hr = pDoc->get_body(&pBodyElem);
if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
   IHTMLBodyElement* pBody = 0;
   hr = pBodyElem->QueryInterface(IID_IHTMLBodyElement, (void**)&pBody);
   if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
      IHTMLTxtRange* pTextRange = 0;
      hr = pBody->createTextRange(&pTextRange);
      if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
         CComBSTR sText = "findme";
         VARIANT_BOOL bSuccess;
         hr = pTextRange->findText(sText, 0, 0, &bSuccess);
         if (SUCCEEDED(hr) && bSuccess == VARIANT_TRUE)


Creating an image of the current HTML

Turning the contents of the WebBrowser into an image is not as straight forward as you may expect. Looking at the IHTMLXxx interfaces does turn up an IHTMLElementRenderer interface. IHTMLElementRenderer contains:

IHTMLElementRender::DrawToDC(HDC hDC);

You can try to use this method, but I have found that it is not very reliable and reacts inconsistently depending on the type of HDC you give it. A more reliable method uses an older OLE method. IViewObject supports the ability to render to an HDC. The IWebBrowser2::Document property can be QueryInterfaced for IViewObject. Two things to note while using this method, (1) you will probably want to turn off the scrollbars and 3D border since they will show up in the image and (2) you will want to resize the WebBrowser to the size of the contained HTML if you want to capture the entire content in the image. You may want to only make these changes temporarily and change them back after the image is captured:

IHTMLDocument2* pDoc = ...;
IHTMLElement* pBodyElem = 0;
HRESULT hr = pDoc->get_body(&pBodyElem);
if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
   IHTMLBodyElement* pBody = 0;
   hr = pBodyElem->QueryInterface(IID_IHTMLBodyElement, (void**)&pBody);
   if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
      // hide 3D border
      IHTMLStyle* pStyle;
      hr = pBodyElem->get_style(&pStyle);
      if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {

      // hide scrollbars

      // resize the browser component to the size of the HTML content
      IHTMLElement2* pBodyElement2;
      hr = Body->QueryInterface(IID_IHTMLElement2, (void**)&BodyElement2)
      if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
         long iScrollWidth = 0;

         long iScrollHeight = 0;

         // these lines depend on your WebBrowser wrapper


         IViewObject* pViewObject;
         pDoc->QueryInterface(IID_IViewObject, (void**)&pViewObject);
         if (pViewObject) {
            /* however you want to make your image HDC.
               You can size it using iScrollHeight & iScrollWidth */
            HDC hImageDC = ... // could be bitmap or enhanced metafile
            HDC hScreenDC = ::GetDC(0);
            RECT rcSource = {0, 0, iScrollWidth, iScrollHeight};
            hr = pViewObject->Draw(DVASPECT_CONTENT, 1, NULL, NULL,
                                   hScreenDC, hImageDC, rcSource,
                                   NULL, NULL, 0);
            ::ReleaseDC(0, hScreenDC);


As you can see, there is a lot of things you can do using the MSHTML object model. Some of it can be tricky. Other things just aren’t supported as well as they should be for an application developer. I guess you could say that application developers have their own list of issues for IE.


  1. Southern said,

    October 22, 2004 @ 12:56 pm

    On your post re: creating image of current html, this solved a current problem – however,several questions:
    1. have you considered use of CaptureThumbnail method?
    2. must the html page be visible (completely or partially) in order to capture or can it be hidden?
    3. can format (bmp, jpg, etc) be selected?
    4. can transparency be maintained (such as capture from transparent DIV rather than entire screen)?
    5. can capture be redirected into VMR7 or VMR9 as text overlay on video window?
    Am trying to capture multiple html windows and overlay on encoded or live video (using html to generate text overlays rather than GDI, etc — trying to preserve earlier working hta implementation rather than recreate the text generation portions). Also, am working in C# VS.NET 2003 rather than C++.

  2. Mark Finkle said,

    October 27, 2004 @ 11:12 pm

    1. I did not want to use because I want the full image, not stretched. The help for IViewObject::Draw states the makes a “… 120 by 120 pixel, 16-color (recommended) device-independent bitmap potentially wrapped in a metafile…”

    2. The HTML page must be visible and the WebBrowser control must be sized to completely display the HTML. However, it does not need to be visible on screen. I move the WebBrowser control off screen so it is not visible to the user.

    3. You pass in an HDC, but my experience is that only Bitmap DC’s work. After you get the Bitmap, you can convert it to JPG or GIF.

    4. The Bitmap will render exactly as the HTML does in the WebBrowser. However, no transparency is given to the Bitmap. Its like a screen print of what’s inside the WebBrowser control onto a Bitmap.

    5. I have no experience using video overlays so I am not sure. As I said, IViewObject::Draw takes an HDC (preferrable to a Bitmap).

  3. loginerror said,

    October 28, 2004 @ 3:50 pm

    Mark (from Southern):

    Blogger’s login is still hung up (using temp account) — send e-mail link to so I can send sample code.

    1. checked both and but didn’t find a limitation of 120×120 — as far as stretching, using VMR I have to create the browser window the same physical size as the source video and use VMR to zoom (stretch) to fit screen (no, cannot use “fullscreen” as that is limited to ONE instance and I need 3 or more instances and “fullscreen” is always on top) — capturebitmap appears to work with larger images but has limitations on quality and size

    2. other “capture” articles seem to think that the browser window must be both visible and on-screen for the capture to work — glad to find another solution — can the browser window (form) be positioned outside of virtual desktop space, including negative space?

    3. was hoping for transparent gif …..

    4. same …..

    5. I may have to actually capture an image (bmp, etc) and feed to VMR — problem is multiple instances (>2) of video with text overlays (transparent browser window on top of video window) where 3rd (and subsequent) cannot render without the text window flashing — only solution I have found is to use VMR (7 or 9) to mix video and graphic overlay (alpha blended) and then project combined image zoomed to full screen on each display

    Current application is on 4 screen computer, 1 for control and 3 for independent displays (same, similar or different content and different screen resolutions) — video is common between all 3 screens but text size and arrangement may vary (program actually will accommodate up to 15 display screens but don’t try video on > 3 screens without one hell of a multi-processor setup and lots of memory)

    Major problem in DirectX9 is adapting to laptop use — most current laptop display cards were designed prior to DirectX9 do not fully support DirectX9, in particular, VMR9 — fallback positions include VMR7 or the overlay mixer, not exactly what I wanted but what is available — very current desktop graphics cards (predominently “gamer” cards) do fully support VMR9 and pixel shaders which I need


  4. loginerror said,

    October 29, 2004 @ 9:17 am

    Update to 3:

    MS DirectX 9.0 SDK Update (October 2004):

    “The [Application-supplied] bitmap can be specified by either a handle to a GDI Device Context (hDC) or by a DirectDraw Surface interface”

  5. krishna said,

    April 7, 2005 @ 6:32 am

    I just want ot say thank to the Author of this article. I was struggling with getting rid of the 3D border aroiund the IE control in my window by using SetWindowLong to modify window style but was not successful.

    Using the methid dicsussed in this article that is now possible.

    Thanks a ton

  6. Anonymous said,

    August 18, 2005 @ 5:42 am

    Thanks for sharing this . MSHTML information is very rare.

  7. Lee said,

    August 19, 2005 @ 5:09 am

    Great article..thanks for sharing

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