WebRunner 0.7 – New and Improved

After much fooling around, WebRunner 0.7 is ready to release. This release has some small changes and some big changes.

Small Changes

  • The WebRunner command menu has been removed from the context menu and is now on a statusbar button menu. The commands had nothing to do with the web application content, so the context menu was a bad spot for the commands. See WebRunner:HostWindow
  • The statusbar is no longer allowed to be hidden. The status messages and progress meter, used during a page load, can still be hidden using the status config parameter. The statusbar is where the SSL lock information is displayed and we feel its important enough to always be displayed. See WebRunner:HostWindow

Big Changes

  • The simple INI webapp file used to configure the web application has been changed to a zipped archive. The configuration file is now inside the archive. Also, inside the archive are the window and desktop icons associated with the web application. In addition, an optional script file can be placed in the archive and used to tweak the WebRunner chrome window for the given web application. See WebRunner:Bundle, WebRunner:Config and WebRunner:Scripting
  • The WebRunner host window now has an optional Sidebar component which can be enabled using the configuration file and initialized via the webapp script. See WebRunner:Config and WebRunner:Scripting
  • WebRunner now installs web applications into its profile/webapps folder. Any web application launched via a webapp bundle (the zip archive) and has an ID (new configuration parameter) will be unpacked into the profile/webapps folder. Afterward, you no longer need the webapp bundle and you can launch the web application using the installed copy. See WebRunner:Bundle and WebRunner:Config.
  • WebRunner can create a shortcut to an installed web application on your desktop. The shortcut uses the web application icon. On Windows, a normal shortcut .lnk file is created . On Linux, a .desktop file is made using the web application icon. On OS X, an application bundle stub will be created (not implemented on OS X yet, sorry). We will get this working on OS X ASAP.

Installs for Windows, Linux and Mac can be found here. You can also find some example webapp bundles there too. The GMail bundle has an example webapp script that watches for new mail and displays a popup notification if any new mail arrives. I also added new webapp bundles for Facebook and Twitter.

50 Replies to “WebRunner 0.7 – New and Improved”

  1. Great, I really like WebRunner.
    Only thing that remains unresolved is opening GDocs Spreadsheets, it still opens in default browser.
    I don’t understand it much but I do know a little about programming and I was able to figure out that when I comment-out lines 282-292 in chrome/content/webrunner.js the problem is solved. But maybe it has some serious side effects, I don’t know that. I suppose that every link clicked in WebRunner will now open in WebRunner but I don’t see that as a problem.

    I know, it’s better not to play with something you don’t understand enough but WebRunner is useless to me without GDocs properly working.

    So could you please tell me if this is a way to solve this? Or it can’t be done this way because it has some unacceptable side effects?

  2. The imposed presence of the status bar greatly reduces the coolness of my WebRunner application … too bad. (But a thousand thank you for WebRunner)

  3. Jan – I don’t see the same problem with Google Docs. Each new document and spreadsheet loads in a new WebRunner window, not the default browser. The code you commented out should only execute if the link is determined to be ‘external’ (usually at a different domain). Here is the URI I use to open the Google Docs webapp:


    Please file a bug on this so we can track it: http://wiki.mozilla.org/WebRunner has details on filing bugs.

    Xavier – Good feedback. If it becomes a problem, we could look for other ways to display the security indicator and command menu.

  4. Congrats! Looks like a good set of changes. Thanks for Cmd-Q on Mac. 🙂

    It took me a minute to get my Google Reader plaintext-.webapp setup working. Here are notes for others who are upgrading:

    (1) Rename your old plaintext .webapp file to webapp.ini (e.g., “mv google-reader.webapp webapp.ini”).

    (2) Zip that file to create webapp.ini.zip.

    (3) Rename the zip file to a .webapp file (“mv webapp.ini.zip google-reader.webapp”).


    Thanks again for a great app (-runner).

  5. Played with 0.7 for couple of minutes on a localized XP machine and found it great. However, still missing already promised support for extensions. In the application.ini, there’s a parameter assignment EnableExtensionManager=1. Am I misunderstanding that or have I missed some docs? Some clarification on this would be appreciated.

  6. funTomas – WebRunner does support extensions. DOM Inspector (found on the command menu) is an extension. WebRunner does not expose a UI for loading extensions yet. So you need to get the extension installed yourself at the moment.

    I am trying to get an idea of the type of extensions that would be useful in WebRunner, so please give feedback on that.

    0.7 does support webapp scripting, so each web application can have its own mini-extension script. The script can do anything that a real extension script can do, it just doesn’t support XUL overlays.

  7. Mark, since I use two types of proxy settings (to be precise, one proxy and a direct connection) I guess something like Proxybutton (http://proxybutton.mozdev.org/) would be great. I know, the proxy setting takes just 3 lines of scripting, but do you bother to do it manually every time? Should I submit a new bug and let others to vote for it?
    Anyway, as the WR starts attracting more and more attention, don’t you fancy setting up a user group?

  8. For anyone else out there, I found out that the “plugins” directory in the xulrunner directory isn’t used, just move it into the parent directory of webrunner and then you can add plugins and such.

  9. Hi, great application. Reminds me of IE in kiosk mode – not sure if that still exists. For Webrunner a certain kiosk mode would be cool – full screen mode, no possibility to change settings and, possibly, disabling exiting the program. Then some features are OS-dependent and some feature are part of other tools. Still, something worth while to think about.

  10. Mark, thanks for providing this. I just found that I stay logged on to Gmail across WebRunner sessions, and i wonder if it’s by design or a bug. I think expiring sessions would be more desktop apps alike.

    Could it be doable? How about as an option in webapp.ini?

  11. I’m wondering if there’s a way to configure it so that for a particular webapp it will open all links in the default browser. It sounds like perhaps this is the old behavior, but I’m just now trying out WebRunner using the 0.7 release. In particular, I’d prefer that when I load Google Reader in WebRunner, it wouldn’t just open a new WebRunner window with the linked to page. I’d like it to open in my browser so I can, among other things, save it to del.icio.us, create a tinyurl for it using the tinyurl extension, etc.

    Wonderful job, by the way — I’d been thinking about doing something much like this for some time… but I’m sure you’ve heard that a few times by now. ;~)

  12. (speaking of that, if you’ve got access to your Apache conf, could you set up .webapp as x-application/webrunner as well? Would be nice to have a de facto here. Oh, and the Twitter link on the wiki is b0rks.)

    – Chris

  13. Mark,

    I just updated from 0.5 to 0.7. Two comments so far:

    First, there seems to be something odd going on with Gmail. The cursor in the compose message body textbox doesn’t blink. Also, is there any chance of having the installer create shortcuts on the desktop? It was nice to be able to run the installer on my girlfriend’s computer and get a shortcut for gmail put on the desktop automatically. Requiring WebRunner to run before shortcuts are installed seems counter to how most users would expect things to work. Plus, having to download .webapps separately from the main installer seems like an unnecessary hassle — the apps are, what, 10KB each compressed? An extra 80 KB added to a 5 MB download seems like a reasonable cost to me.

    Also, about extensions: the two that I’d be most interested in are Adblock and Greasemonkey.

  14. Hi,
    I’m using webrunner since version 0.5 and everything was fine. Now I switched to 0.7 (uninstalled old version, downloaded 0.7, installed, downloaded new .webapp ) and… GMail is not working properly anymore. When I’m on the message compose textbox in Rich Text Format mode the cursor is not blinking. I can actually write but there is no cursor, and it is somewhat difficult to type that way. Anything is fine with plain text mode (that is with common textareas).
    It is something missing in prefs? Is it a bug of the geko version you used? Is a problem only me is getting?

    Byebye and thanks for WebRunner, it’s really useful!

    PS: a incredibly welcome extension would be Minimize to tray => http://minimizetotray.mozdev.org/ . So we can start gmail in webrunner, having it minimized like any other desktop mail program, and have new mail notifications (great addition in 0.7!).

  15. Hi,
    this rocks a lot, thanks for the work.
    Ok I just have some pb with a homemade webapp, for the flash version of gtalk.
    on the former version of webrunner, it worked, but no more with the current one : there is a connection error on the google servers. Of course you have to add the flash plugin to webrunner. It still works on firefox, but no more on WR0.7.
    Give it a try : http://labs.artis-tic.com/gtalk.webapp
    and the uri :

  16. Hi Mark, i think that webRunner is really great and is something i always search…

    and i really like if i can use webRunner + some extention to run different “services”

    “”I am trying to get an idea of the type of extensions that would be useful in WebRunner, so please give feedback on that.””

    I think at Sage extention, with webRunner it would be a perfect, for me, rss aggregator (offline, but i don’t like google reader…)


    i think at allPeers extention, so i can share my personal file without open firefox…


    use webRunner like a bookmark manager, so if i want to search, modify, export a bookmark i can do without firefox…

    but i don’t know if is possible 😀
    thanks a lot

    see you

  17. Um, when using GMail on the WR, I’m really really missing the spellchecker, including the context menu language switcher. Please…

  18. @Tom B
    I didn’t know about a Free software to accomplish this task! I think it’s still better native app implementation but this is a good alternative where there is no native feature!

    @Ben Karel
    I didn’t see you have the same problem as me. I’m not the only one, so this is a bug!

    @Mark Finkle
    I forgot to say I’m also missing alot the spell checker, I think this is a must have addon, every kind of webapp will benefit of this!


  19. I’m assuming I’m doing something obvious/dumb but: I’m on OS X and can’t seem to create my own bundles.

    I am able to download the apps others have done (e.g. gmail.webapp) and run successfully. But if I change the name to .zip, unzip, then rezip (the EXACT same content), then rename back to .webapp – it won’t open (I get the default webRunner window).

    So it appears my zip utility does something screwy? I’ve tried the OS X “create archive” as well as several (free) utilities I’ve found around the web, all with the same result.

    I notice others are successfully creating bundles on OS X – what utility are you using? Maybe I’m missing something/doing something dumb (?)

  20. Great app, found it a month back. With this version I agreed with Xavier that the statusbar always appeared is a turn off for me. I understand the important of the SSL lock to be seen. Maybe the SSL icon can be put on the titlebar instead if the statusbar is off.

  21. Hello, I have a couple of questions about webrunner (I wanna use it both on Win XP and Mac OS 10.4).

    1- How can I create a shortcut to an installed web application on the desktop ???
    2- Is it possible to associate a specific web application to webrunner so when I lunch it it gonna load the webapp I want or every time I have to load the .webapp file ???

    3- Which structure does the .webapp must have ??? I mean where I have to put the icon (I tried to zip .ini and icon both on the root but it doen’t work, so I create for the icon teh path icons/default but it doesn’t work as well).

    Thank you so much for your help. I appreciate it


  22. @PR

    Once I have created the .zip file I rename it (just pressed enter) myapp.webapp and after I confirmed that I wanna keep .webapp extension and all work.

  23. Do WebRunner applications share their cookies with each other / with the user’s Firefox install? If they don’t, this could be a great way of guarding against CSRF attacks like the “add filter” one that recently affected Gmail.

  24. Simon – Currently WebRunner applications share cookies with other WebRunner applications, but not with Firefox. WebRunner uses its own profile, not Firefox’s profile.

    There is a plan to allow WebRunner applications to create their own, private profiles as well. Then all Google apps could use a shared WebRunner profile, but not share with other WebRunner applications.

  25. Ben Karel & ThankU – The cursor problem is a XULRunner 1.9 bug and is logged. I am hoping it is fixed in the Firefox beta timeframe (soon-ish).

    Things we’re working on for next release:
    – F5 support when “navigation” is enabled in webapp.ini
    – Spellchecking support (red underlines and context menu suggestions)
    – Implement shortcut support for start menu & quicklaunch bar (Windows only) and desktop (Mac)
    – Proxy support (per webapp or global for WebRunner?)
    – userChrome.css and userContent.css style support for presentation changes

  26. I think global proxy support would be better.
    Per webapp proxy support makes sense only for people who use some kind of webapps only on some places and not on others (eg: GMail webapp used at work where ordinary mail client doesn’t, and using only the standalone mail client [thunderbird 🙂 ] at home) thus is more specific..a global proxy support applies to all generic scenarios (and works also for people that needs it on specific webapps, they just need to swap proxy config like anyone else when they change network) and I think it’s better.

    The todo list for next rel is really nice 🙂


  27. Things we’re working on for next release:

    – Implement shortcut support for start menu & quicklaunch bar (Windows only) and desktop (Mac)

    GREAT !!!

  28. Hi,

    first, thanks for the great app! Secondly, I’ve been trying to get some extensions running in webrunner, but with no success, I’m afraid. I’ve tried copying them from the firefox profile to the C:\program files\webrunner\extensions and editing install.rdf so that targetApplication is set to webrunner, but with no success.
    What am I missing?

  29. Going through a proxy even after setting webrunner up for the proxy, leaves Gmail only working in basic HTML, Google reader doesn’t load, neither does Google notebook. On the other hand, Meebo, Google Docs, And Facebook load fast with no problems. Any ideas?

  30. Bug report:

    I have no problem using Webrunner with meebo, using a shortcut to:
    webrunner -uri http://meebo.com

    But upon exit I get an urlrunner error msg. Same goes sometimes for FaceBook using the same shortcut ( -uri http://facebook.com )

    On the other hand using these shortcuts does work, unlike the supplied *.webapp

  31. Hello, is it possible to change WebRunner preferences ???, for instance default font size .


  32. This is really great. There really needs to be some kind of easy distribution system set up for the webapp bundles. Some kind of portal in tandem with a Firefox extension which automatically installs them and allows you to launch Webrunner with the newly installed webapp and make some kind of platform specific shortcut.

    On another note, its pretty sweet to get a look at the new native-appearance GTK+ form widgets rendered by the updated Gecko which is included with the bundled XULRunner.

  33. Hi again !
    I just saw that Webrunner 0.7 doesn’t support extension overlay, so there is now way Firebug would work.

    However, Google Gears schould be able to run without overlay…
    Have you tried the link in my previous comment before ?


  34. Eric – Yes, Firebug will not work in WebRunner as is. Google Gears can work in WebRunner if you follow the blog post you linked – With the following changes:

    Step #1 – same
    Step #2 – change <em:id>webrunner@webapps.org</em:id> to <em:id>webrunner@developer.mozilla.org</em:id>
    Step #3 – no longer needed – WebRunner 0.7 does this already

  35. Mark – Thanks for your reply, I actually did that change, however :

    – On Windows (tried under XP and Vista), XulRunner crashes as soon as the webapp uses gears. It says “Error while loading gears.dll” (I tried gears v. and v. It seems XulRunner cannot find some dlls (the ones in xulrunner directory). I then copied all the dlls into the windows/system32 : it still crashes (without any error this time…)

    – On MacOS : Is this trick possible ? Since we cannot use the registry, I tried to copy the gears extension into WebRunner/extensions, or profile/WebRunner/extensions, but the extension is not loaded 🙁

  36. I absolutely love Webrunner. The uses for it are endless. It’s exactly what I was looking for to display the portal site for my private home network, for example. I also use it for Google Calander, Gubb, and some Gmail. But there are a few things missing:
    1) Inline spell checking – I’ve gotten so used to this in Firefox that I really miss it in Webrunner. Gmail just isn’t the same without it. And if you’re using it with an online office suite, wouldn’t inline spell check be essential?
    2) The ability to have a basic navigation bar (back/forward/refresh). Perhaps this can be done and I just haven’t figured out how yet. Not all sites need this, but when a site does, the Alt+mouse navigation isn’t intuitive for novice users.
    3) A way to hide the Status Bar at the bottom. I would rather have the little menu thingy somewhere else, and no status bar at all for most of my uses.
    4) Some way to have a (not external) link open in a new window.

  37. Oh yeah, and I forgot to add that I would love a way to change the font size. Having the Ctrl++ & Ctrl+- keyboard shortcuts in Webrunner would be great for me. I’d like to use Webrunner to read locally hosted HTML ebooks, but not unless I can adjust the fontsize on the fly.

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