Headless Chromium

Headless Chromium is a library for running Chromium in a headless/server environment. Expected use cases include loading web pages, extracting metadata (e.g., the DOM) and generating bitmaps from page contents -- using all the modern web platform features provided by Chromium and Blink.

See the architecture design doc for more information.

Headless shell

The headless shell is a sample application which demonstrates the use of the headless API. To run it, first initialize a headless build configuration:

$ mkdir -p out/Debug
$ echo 'import("//build/args/headless.gn")' > out/Debug/args.gn
$ gn gen out/Debug

Then build the shell:

$ ninja -C out/Debug headless_shell

After the build completes, the headless shell can be run with the following command:

$ out/Debug/headless_shell https://www.google.com

To attach a DevTools debugger to the shell, start it with an argument specifying the debugging port:

$ out/Debug/headless_shell --remote-debugging-port=9222 https://youtube.com

Then navigate to with your browser.

Embedder API

The embedder API allows developers to integrate the headless library into their application. The API provides default implementations for low level adaptation points such as networking and the run loop.

The main embedder API classes are:

  • HeadlessBrowser::Options::Builder - Defines the embedding options, e.g.:
    • SetMessagePump - Replaces the default base message pump. See base::MessagePump.
    • SetProxyServer - Configures an HTTP/HTTPS proxy server to be used for accessing the network.

Client/DevTools API

The headless client API is used to drive the browser and interact with loaded web pages. Its main classes are:

  • HeadlessBrowser - Represents the global headless browser instance.
  • HeadlessWebContents - Represents a single “tab” within the browser.
  • HeadlessDevToolsClient - Provides a C++ interface for inspecting and controlling a tab. The API functions corresponds to DevTools commands. See the client API documentation for more information.