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Public C++ API


The Blink public API (formerly known as the WebKit API) is the C++ embedding layer by which Blink and its embedder (Chromium) communicate with each other. The API is divided into two parts - the web API, located in public/web/, and the platform API located in public/platform/. The embedder uses the web API to talk to Blink and Blink uses the platform API to ask the embedder to perform lower-level tasks. The platform API also provides common types and functionality used in both the web and platform APIs.

This shows the overall dependency layers. Things higher up in the diagram depend only on things below them.


| Embedder (Chromium) |


| Blink public web API |

+---------------------+ |

| Blink internals | |


| Blink public platform API |


| Embedder-provided platform implementation |


The web API covers concepts like the DOM, frames, widgets and input handling. The embedder typically owns a WebView which represents a page and navigates WebFrames within the page. Many objects in the web API are actually thin wrappers around internal Blink objects.

The platform API covers concepts like graphics, networking, database access and other low-level primitives. The platform API is accessible to nearly all of Blink's internals. The platform API is provided through an implementation of the pure virtual blink::Platform interface provided when Blink is initialized. Most of the platform API is expressed by pure virtual interfaces implemented by the embedder.

Conventions and common idioms


The Blink API follows the Blink coding conventions.

All public Blink API types and classes are in the namespace blink and have the prefix Web, both mostly for historical reasons. Types that are thin wrappers around Blink internal classes have the same name as the internal class except for the prefix. For instance, blink::WebFrame is a wrapper around blink::Frame.

Enums in the public Blink API prefix their values with the name of the enum. For example:

enum WebMyEnum {

No prefixes are needed for "enum class".

enum class WebMyEnum {

WebFoo / WebFooClient

Many classes in the Blink API are associated with a client. This is typically done when the API type is a wrapper around a Blink internals class and the client is provided by the embedder. In this pattern, the WebFooClient and the WebFoo are created by the embedder and the embedder is responsible for ensuring that the lifetime of the WebFooClient is longer than that of the WebFoo. For example, the embedder creates a WebView with a WebViewClient* that it owns (see WebView::create).

Many public API types are value types that contain references to Blink objects that are reference counted. For example, WebNode contains a reference to a Node. To do this, web_node.h has a forward declaration of Node and WebNode has a single member of type WebPrivatePtr<Node>. WebNode also exports a WebNode::reset() that can dereference this member (and thus potentially invoke the Node destructor). There's also a WebPrivateOwnPtr<T> for wrapping types that are single ownership.