How to communicate with WebView in Chrome App?

I have developed a website which I intend to display inside a webview, within a Chrome App. This works fine.

Now, I want to use postMessage from the website, to send messages out of the webview and into the containing Chrome App. This is done via top.postMessage inside the webview.

I've tried the following event listeners:

webView.contentWindow.addEventListener('message', messageHandler);

webView.addEventListener('message', messageHandler);

window.addEventListener('message', messageHandler);

document.addEventListener('message', messageHandler);

I have successfully implemented the following event listeners. All of which work as expected: contentload, dialog and consolemessage.

Unless I can get this to work, I am considering using consolemessage to send messages from the webview to the container - something I find unappealing, and I suspect it won't work when not using the developer mode.



The webview sample has a good demo of using postMessage to send messages between an app and an external page loaded in a webview.

Here are the key pieces of code.

  1. In the app, listen to the loadstop event of the webview and send an initial message to the page. You can restrict this message to specific domains or pages.

    wv1.addEventListener('loadstop', sendInitialMessage);
    function sendInitialMessage(e) {
     // only send the message if the page was loaded from googledrive hosting"initial message", "*");
  2. In the external page, listen for the message event and save off the source and origin.

    window.addEventListener('message', onMessage);
    var appWindow, appOrigin;
    function onMessage(e) {
     appWindow = e.source;
     appOrigin = e.origin;

    Then the page can use those objects to post a message back to the app.

    function doSendMessage() {
     if (appWindow && appOrigin) {
      appWindow.postMessage("this is a message from the page!", appOrigin);
  3. The app should also listen to the message event to receive the messages from the external page.

    window.addEventListener('message', function(e) {
     log("[???] messagereceived: " +;

The reason that the embedded web page is unable to post messages to the app, is because the embedded web page does not have a reference to the app.

top.postMessage is not a reference to the app. top would work if you were trying to access the topmost frame, within the same webview.

To be able to send messages to the app, the web page needs a reference to the app. The easiest way to do this, is by having the app send the first message to the frame - a "hello"-message.

From the app:

// Initialize communications
webView.contentWindow.postMessage('hello, webpage!', '*');
addEventListener('message', function(e) {

    // I expect this check to work, but I have not tested it.
    if (e.source != webView.contentWindow)

    // Handle however you want.

In the web page:

var messageSource, messageOrigin;
addEventListener('message', function(e) {
    if (!messageSource) {

         * Once we have a messageSource, we should not allow anybody to change
         * messageSource again

        if ( == "hello, webpage!") {

             * If possible, you should validate the `e.origin` value here. It could 
             * possibly come from somewhere else. However, this is quite safe as it 
             * stands, since there only is a very narrow time window where the app 
             * is open willing to accept the "hello, webpage!" message.
             * Another way of validating, is by having the app wait for the 
             * "hello, host!" message. If that response is not received within a second
             * the app host could simply reload the app.

            messageSource = e.source;
            messageOrigin = e.origin;
            messageSource.postMessage("hello, host!", messageOrigin);
    } else {
        // Handle messages however you like. This will simply respond to every message:
        messageSource.postMessage('Your message: ' +, messageOrigin);
  • In the guest page inside the contained webview, use chrome.runtime.sendMessage() to send messages to the containing app.

  • In the app, use chrome.runtime.onMessage.addListener() to listen to those messages.

Note that you can message any app this way, not only the one containing your webview, but you'll need to know the app's ID for that, and use onMessageExternal instead of onMessage. For the containing app, the ID is optional.

Here's a working example of this mechanism. It's a Polymer element, but that doesn't change the mechanism: designerProxy_ is the equivalent of your guest page; registerDesignerProxyListener_ is the equivalent of your app.


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