How to Create a Vorlon.js Plugin to Test Your Own JavaScript Remotely

How to Create a Vorlon.js Plugin to Test Your Own JavaScript Remotely

During the keynote at the recent //BUILD 2015 conference, our team at
Microsoft released Vorlon.js, a tool to debug your website.

Vorlon.js is mainly composed of a dashboard which
displays data coming from your site. To make it work, you only have to
reference a script in your site code.

Vorlonjs dashboard

We (Pierre Lagarde, David Catuhe, David Rousset and myself) built this primarily to help web developers debug their websites on mobile
. Of course, proprietary solutions already exist, like Chrome
developer tools to debug Chrome Mobile, the equivalent for Safari, Visual
Studio for Internet Explorer, or even Weinre; but none of these is really
technology- and platform-agnostic.

This is the gap we wanted to fill with Vorlon.js.

Diagram showing Vorlon working with different platforms

You can install Vorlon.js either from npm or by cloning the GitHub
repository and using gulp to make it ready to use.

You can find more information about that on our website or on the
blog post my friend David wrote

To create a plugin for Vorlon, you
can use TypeScript or do it directly with JavaScript.

I will give you both the JavaScript and TypeScript code, so you can read it in
your favorite language!

What We Are
Going to Create

In this article I chose to create a plugin which will get device
information. This is based on the website created by Raphaël Goetter. To keep it simple I will only get the data from the Sizes section
of the My Screen category.

mydeviceio screenshot

With this plugin activated, the Vorlon.js dashboard will display size
information coming from the client.

Before going more into details, have a look at this quick video which shows
you what we will create.

In this video, I do a demo on a desktop browser, but this obviously also
works on a mobile phone or tablet.

1. Writing Your Code Outside Vorlon.js

A Vorlon.js plugin is nothing more than HTML, CSS and JavaScript code. Your
plugin is getting data from the client and sending it to the server to display
it on the Dashboard.

This means that you can first do it without Vorlon.js, write everything on
a simple web project, and then include it in the Vorlon.js plugin architecture.

Our plugin will get some information related to the client size and display
it in an HTML list. It will also refresh the data when resizing the browser.
You can see the
full sample running here
(it is not
pretty, but does the job!).

My Screen showing device sizes

The HTML code is pretty light:

It is using the following control.css file:

And the JavaScript code gets the data once the page is loaded and each time
the window is resized and updates the list:

So, until now we are only writing simple, classic web code. Let’s now have a look at how to transform that into a Vorlon.js plugin!

2. Creating the
Basic JavaScript/TypeScript Code for the Plugin

In Vorlon.js, a plugin is a JavaScript class that inherits from the Plugin
class. The minimum code contains a constructor and the getID



The ID is simply a string which you can choose. You will need it when you add your plugin to the dashboard.

The constructor calls the super function and gives it its name, the
control.html and control.css files. This is a prerequisite for it to know these
files and load them when necessary.

The last line of code is registering the plugin to the list managed by the
Core. The Core role is to handle all the communication and data exchange
between the client and the dashboard.

3. Rendering on the Dashboard

Each time it loads a plugin, the dashboard creates a new tab in its
right pane. This is a space for your plugin to render.

The layout part for a Vorlon.js plugin is contained in an HTML file. In the
sample we are going to create, it is called control.html, which is a convention
in Vorlon.js plugins. It is not displayed by default, so you have to manage it in
your plugin code. This is done using _insertHtmlContentAsync and
generally in the startDashboardSide function.

startDashboardSide is called
when the dashboard is instantiating your plugin on the server side. It only has
one parameter, which is the HTML div where you can render your control.
Basically, it is the div that is displayed on your plugin tab.

_insertHtmlContentAsync is a
helper that asynchronously loads all the files you gave during the plugin
construction. The first argument is the render div, and the second is a callback
function giving you the loaded div once everything is done.



In the control.html part, you only have to remove the JavaScript reference, which results in the following code:

4. Sending Data From the Client to the Plugin

So, now that you are rendering your control template in the dashboard, you
need to send it the data from the client. On the initial code it was done on
the same page. Now you need to package everything and send it.

All the communication process is handled for you. You only have to create an
object with data in it and call the correct function. It is a helper available
in Core.Messenger named sendRealTimeMessage.

In the MyDeviceInfo class we add a custom function named sendClientData. It
will get all the current size information and send it.



SendRealtimeMessage has three mandatory parameters:

  • the plugin ID (which is the string you return on the
    getID function)
  • the object you want to send (here containing the
    sizes information)
  • the tenant where the request comes from (Client or

This function needs to be called each time the dashboard asks for it (when
the user switches to this client, for instance) and each time the browser size

We add the startClientSide function which will be called at client
initialization to register to the window.onresize event:



Each time the user changes the size of the browser, this code will send the
new information to the dashboard.

And finally we need to add the refresh function. It will be called
each time the dashboard needs the current information from the client.



And that is all!

5. Displaying
Data on the Dashboard

Now that the data are sent from the client to the dashboard, you still need
to handle them on the other side.

To do this, you can use the onRealtimeMessageReceivedFromClientSide function.
It is called each time the client sends a message through the Core.Messenger. It
only has one parameter, in which you get the object that you sent.

In this sample, we only have to use each value and set the correct DOM
element to update the list with the new values.



6. Let’s Test

To be able to test this plugin, you need to perform some simple steps.

Compile and Minify

If you chose TypeScript, you will need to use a tool such as the TypeScript
compiler available on npm, or integrate yourself in the gulp process by
modifying the gulpfile.js available in the /Plugins folder.

After the compilation from TypeScript to JavaScript is done, you need to
minify your JS file. It is important that you use this convention:

  • vorlon.yourPluginName.js (for the maximized version)
  • vorlon.yourPluginName.min.js (for the minified

Copy Everything in the Server

The second step is to copy all your files in the
/Server/public/vorlon/plugins folder. There you have to create a folder using
your plugin name and put everything under it. This includes your HTML, CSS and
JavaScript files.

Here is how it is done for the plugin we are creating in this article:

Folder containing CSS HTML and JS files

Add Your Plugin to the Catalog.json File

The next step is to register your plugin in the server. To do this, add a
line in the Server/public/catalog.json file:

You can find more information about this in the Vorlon.js documentation.

Start the Server

Open a command line on the /Server folder and run the following command:

Launch a Client

Finally, launch a client referencing your Vorlon.js local instance. You can
use the sample provided in the /Plugins/samples folder.

Browse the dashboard using http://localhost:1337/dashboard/default.

And… rock’n’roll!

Vorlonjs test page

You can try to change the size of the browser in which you display your
client code, and you will see it change live on the dashboard.

Easy, isn’t it?

What to Do

I hope I illustrated how easy we want the plugin creation to be. You really
just have to approach it like writing classic web code and simply split it in two

  • the one collecting data on the client
  • the one displaying it on the dashboard

Vorlon.js is not only our project, it is yours also. I am pretty sure that
you will have plenty of plugin ideas, and we will be happy to integrate them in
the project.

Do not hesitate to fork and send us pull requests with your creations!

You can find the full sample on GitHub.

If you have any questions about this article or Vorlon.js, feel free to
contact me on Twitter.

More Hands-On With JavaScript

Microsoft has a bunch of free learning on
many open-source JavaScript topics, and we’re on a mission to create a lot more
with Microsoft Edge. Here are some to check out:

And some free tools to get started: Visual Studio Code, Azure Trial, and cross-browser testing tools—all available for Mac, Linux,
or Windows. 

This article is part of the web dev tech
series from Microsoft. We’re excited to share
Microsoft Edge and the new EdgeHTML rendering engine with you.
Get free virtual machines or test remotely on your Mac, iOS, Android, or
Windows device @

Source: Tuts Plus

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