Calling webpage JavaScript methods from browser extension

I am developing an firefox extension using webExtensions that would help me ease my work with the scenario below.

I have to click around 50-60 buttons on the site that update the task status. On click of this button, the web page is calling the webpage's updTask(id) JavaScript function that is then making a web-service call to update the task.

I am not able to do this from my content script using the code below:

manifest.json:

"permissions": [
    "activeTab",
    "cross-domain-content": ["http://workdomain.com/","http://workdomain.org/","http://www.workdomain.com/","http://www.workdomain.org/"]
  ]

Content-Script code:

function taskUpdate(request, sender, sendResponse) {
  console.log(request.start + 'inside task update');
  updateTask(45878);
  chrome.runtime.onMessage.removeListener(taskUpdate);
}

function updateTask(id) {
  //TODO: code to get all buttons and task id's
  updTask(id);  // Not working
}

Plugin Script:

document.addEventListener("click", function(e) {
  if (e.target.classList.contains("startButton")) {

    chrome.tabs.executeScript(null, {
      file: "/content_scripts/taskUpdate.js"
    });

    chrome.tabs.query({active: true, currentWindow: true}, function(tabs) {
      chrome.tabs.sendMessage(tabs[0].id, {start: "start"});
    });
    return;
  }
  else if (e.target.classList.contains("clear")) {
    chrome.tabs.reload();
    window.close();
    return;
  }
});

Could someone point me in the right direction, what am I missing here??

Answers:

Answer

Your content script is in a different context/scope from that of page scripts (scripts that already exist in the webpage). Your content script has higher privileges than are granted to page scripts. Keeping content scripts separate from page scripts is a normal architecture for browser extensions, which is done for security reasons.

Because your content script is in a different context from page scripts, you can't directly access functions and variables that are defined in page scripts from your content script. There are a few different ways which you can access information in the page context. The cross-browser method of doing so is to cause some specific parts of your code to execute in the page context. I find the most convenient, and cross-browser compatible, way to do so is to create and insert a <script> element into the page's DOM containing the code you want to execute.

You could do something like:

function updateTask(id) {
    let newScript = document.createElement('script');
    newScript.innerHTML='updTask(' + id + ');';
    document.head.appendChild(newScript);
    //newScript.remove(); //Can be removed, if desired.
}

The added script gets run in the page context because it is now a <script> element in the DOM. The browser recognizes that a <script> element was added and evaluates it (executes the code contained) as soon as the script which inserted it is no longer processing. It does basically the same thing for any other element you add to the DOM. Because it is part of the page, the code inside the gets run in the page script context/scope.

Getting data back to your content script

There are a variety of ways to communicate between code you have running in the page context and your code in the content script context. My preferred method of doing so is to use CustomEvents. I describe why in the first part of this answer. Generally, I use at least one custom event type to communicate from the page context to the content script context and another from the content script context to the page context. You can use as many CustomEvent types as you want. I'll often use multiple events, each communicating a different thing, rather than a single event type out of which I parse several different types of messages.

Generalized code to execute in the page context from a content script

The easiest way to maintain code which you are going to execute in the page context is to write it as a function in your content script, then inject that function into the page context. Here is some generalized code which will do that while passing parameters to the function you are executing in the page context:

This utility function, executeInPage(), will execute a function in the page context and pass any provided arguments to the function. Arguments must be Object, Array, function, RegExp, Date, and/or other primitives (Boolean, null, undefined, Number, String, but not Symbol).

/* executeInPage takes a function defined in this context, converts it to a string
 *  and inserts it into the page context inside a <script>. It is placed in an IIFE and
 *  passed all of the additional parameters passed to executeInPage.
 *  Parameters:
 *    func          The function which you desire to execute in the page. 
 *    leaveInPage   If this does not evaluate to a truthy value, then the <script> is
 *                    immediately removed from the page after insertion. Immediately
 *                    removing the script can normally be done. In some corner cases,
 *                    it's desirable for the script to remain in the page. However,
 *                    even for asynchronous functionality it's usually not necessary, as
 *                    the context containing the code will be kept with any references
 *                    (e.g. the reference to a callback function).
 *    id            If this is a non-blank string, it is used as the ID for the <script>
 *    All additional parameters   are passed to the function executing in the page.
 *                    This is done by converting them to JavaScript code-text and back.
 *                    All such parameters must be Object, Array, functions, RegExp,
 *                    Date, and/or other primitives (Boolean, null, undefined, Number,
 *                    String, but not Symbol). Circular references are not supported.
 *                    If you need to communicate DOM elements, you will need to
 *                    pass selectors, or other descriptors of them (e.g. temporarily
 *                    assign them a unique class), or otherwise communicate them to the
 *                    script (e.g. you could dispatch a custom event once the script is
 *                    inserted into the page context).
 */
function executeInPage(functionToRunInPage, leaveInPage, id) {
    //Execute a function in the page context.
    // Any additional arguments passed to this function are passed into the page to the
    // functionToRunInPage.
    // Such arguments must be JSON-ifiable (also Date, Function, and RegExp) (prototypes
    // are not copied).
    // Using () => doesn't set arguments, so can't use it to define this function.
    // This has to be done without jQuery, as jQuery creates the script
    // within this context, not the page context, which results in
    // permission denied to run the function.
    function convertToText(args) {
        //This uses the fact that the arguments are converted to text which is
        //  interpreted within a <script>. That means we can create other types of
        //  objects by recreating their normal JavaScript representation.
        //  It's actually easier to do this without JSON.strigify() for the whole
        //  Object/Array.
        var asText = '';
        var level = 0;
        function lineSeparator(adj, isntLast) {
            level += adj - ((typeof isntLast === 'undefined' || isntLast) ? 0 : 1);
            asText += (isntLast ? ',' : '') +'\n'+ (new Array(level * 2 + 1)).join('');
        }
        function recurseObject(obj) {
            if (Array.isArray(obj)) {
                asText += '[';
                lineSeparator(1);
                obj.forEach(function(value, index, array) {
                    recurseObject(value);
                    lineSeparator(0, index !== array.length - 1);
                });
                asText += ']';
            } else if (obj === null) {
                asText +='null';
            //undefined
            } else if (obj === void(0)) {
                asText +='void(0)';
            //Special cases for Number
            } else if (Number.isNaN(obj)) {
                asText +='Number.NaN';
            } else if (obj === 1/0) {
                asText +='1/0';
            } else if (obj === 1/-0) {
                asText +='1/-0';
            //function
            } else if (obj instanceof RegExp || typeof obj === 'function') {
                asText +=  obj.toString();
            } else if (obj instanceof Date) {
                asText += 'new Date("' + obj.toJSON() + '")';
            } else if (typeof obj === 'object') {
                asText += '{';
                lineSeparator(1);
                Object.keys(obj).forEach(function(prop, index, array) {
                    asText += JSON.stringify(prop) + ': ';
                    recurseObject(obj[prop]);
                    lineSeparator(0, index !== array.length - 1);
                });
                asText += '}';
            } else if (['boolean', 'number', 'string'].indexOf(typeof obj) > -1) {
                asText += JSON.stringify(obj);
            } else {
                console.log('Didn\'t handle: typeof obj:', typeof obj, '::  obj:', obj);
            }
        }
        recurseObject(args);
        return asText;
    }
    var newScript = document.createElement('script');
    if(typeof id === 'string' && id) {
        newScript.id = id;
    }
    var args = [];
    //using .slice(), or other Array methods, on arguments prevents optimization
    for(var index=3;index<arguments.length;index++){
        args.push(arguments[index]);
    }
    newScript.textContent = '(' + functionToRunInPage.toString() + ').apply(null,'
                            + convertToText(args) + ");";
    (document.head || document.documentElement).appendChild(newScript);
    if(!leaveInPage) {
        //Synchronous scripts are executed immediately and can be immediately removed.
        //Scripts with asynchronous functionality of any type must remain in the page
        //  until complete.
        document.head.removeChild(newScript);
    }
    return newScript;
};

Using excuteInPage():

function logInPageContext(arg0,arg1,arg2,arg3){
    console.log('arg0:', arg0);
    console.log('arg1:', arg1);
    console.log('arg2:', arg2);
    console.log('arg3:', arg3);
}

executeInPage(logInPageContext, false, '', 'This', 'is', 'a', 'test');


/* executeInPage takes a function defined in this context, converts it to a string
 *  and inserts it into the page context inside a <script>. It is placed in an IIFE and
 *  passed all of the additional parameters passed to executeInPage.
 *  Parameters:
 *    func          The function which you desire to execute in the page. 
 *    leaveInPage   If this does not evaluate to a truthy value, then the <script> is
 *                    immediately removed from the page after insertion. Immediately
 *                    removing the script can normally be done. In some corner cases,
 *                    it's desirable for the script to remain in the page. However,
 *                    even for asynchronous functionality it's usually not necessary, as
 *                    the context containing the code will be kept with any references
 *                    (e.g. the reference to a callback function).
 *    id            If this is a non-blank string, it is used as the ID for the <script>
 *    All additional parameters   are passed to the function executing in the page.
 *                    This is done by converting them to JavaScript code-text and back.
 *                    All such parameters must be Object, Array, functions, RegExp,
 *                    Date, and/or other primitives (Boolean, null, undefined, Number,
 *                    String, but not Symbol). Circular references are not supported.
 *                    If you need to communicate DOM elements, you will need to
 *                    pass selectors, or other descriptors of them (e.g. temporarily
 *                    assign them a unique class), or otherwise communicate them to the
 *                    script (e.g. you could dispatch a custom event once the script is
 *                    inserted into the page context).
 */
function executeInPage(functionToRunInPage, leaveInPage, id) {
    //Execute a function in the page context.
    // Any additional arguments passed to this function are passed into the page to the
    // functionToRunInPage.
    // Such arguments must be JSON-ifiable (also Date, Function, and RegExp) (prototypes
    // are not copied).
    // Using () => doesn't set arguments, so can't use it to define this function.
    // This has to be done without jQuery, as jQuery creates the script
    // within this context, not the page context, which results in
    // permission denied to run the function.
    function convertToText(args) {
        //This uses the fact that the arguments are converted to text which is
        //  interpreted within a <script>. That means we can create other types of
        //  objects by recreating their normal JavaScript representation.
        //  It's actually easier to do this without JSON.strigify() for the whole
        //  Object/Array.
        var asText = '';
        var level = 0;
        function lineSeparator(adj, isntLast) {
            level += adj - ((typeof isntLast === 'undefined' || isntLast) ? 0 : 1);
            asText += (isntLast ? ',' : '') +'\n'+ (new Array(level * 2 + 1)).join('');
        }
        function recurseObject(obj) {
            if (Array.isArray(obj)) {
                asText += '[';
                lineSeparator(1);
                obj.forEach(function(value, index, array) {
                    recurseObject(value);
                    lineSeparator(0, index !== array.length - 1);
                });
                asText += ']';
            } else if (obj === null) {
                asText +='null';
            //undefined
            } else if (obj === void(0)) {
                asText +='void(0)';
            //Special cases for Number
            } else if (Number.isNaN(obj)) {
                asText +='Number.NaN';
            } else if (obj === 1/0) {
                asText +='1/0';
            } else if (obj === 1/-0) {
                asText +='1/-0';
            //function
            } else if (obj instanceof RegExp || typeof obj === 'function') {
                asText +=  obj.toString();
            } else if (obj instanceof Date) {
                asText += 'new Date("' + obj.toJSON() + '")';
            } else if (typeof obj === 'object') {
                asText += '{';
                lineSeparator(1);
                Object.keys(obj).forEach(function(prop, index, array) {
                    asText += JSON.stringify(prop) + ': ';
                    recurseObject(obj[prop]);
                    lineSeparator(0, index !== array.length - 1);
                });
                asText += '}';
            } else if (['boolean', 'number', 'string'].indexOf(typeof obj) > -1) {
                asText += JSON.stringify(obj);
            } else {
                console.log('Didn\'t handle: typeof obj:', typeof obj, '::  obj:', obj);
            }
        }
        recurseObject(args);
        return asText;
    }
    var newScript = document.createElement('script');
    if(typeof id === 'string' && id) {
        newScript.id = id;
    }
    var args = [];
    //using .slice(), or other Array methods, on arguments prevents optimization
    for(var index=3;index<arguments.length;index++){
        args.push(arguments[index]);
    }
    newScript.textContent = '(' + functionToRunInPage.toString() + ').apply(null,'
                            + convertToText(args) + ");";
    (document.head || document.documentElement).appendChild(newScript);
    if(!leaveInPage) {
        //Synchronous scripts are executed immediately and can be immediately removed.
        //Scripts with asynchronous functionality of any type must remain in the page
        //  until complete.
        document.head.removeChild(newScript);
    }
    return newScript;
};


The text for this answer was largely taken from my other answers: this one and this one.

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