Service Development Guidelines


The top-level //services directory contains the sources, public Mojo interface definitions, and public client libraries for a number of essential services, designated as Chrome Foundation Services. If you think of Chrome as a “portable OS,” Chrome Foundation Services can be thought of as the core system services of that OS.

Each subdirectory here corresponds to a service that:

  • generally focuses on a subset of functionality or features which are thematically or functionally related in a way that makes sense given the name of the service
  • could logically run in an isolated process for security or performance isolation, depending on the constraints of the host OS
Note that there are other parts of the tree which aggregate slightly-less-than-foundational service definitions, such as services specific to the Chrome browser defined in //chrome/services or reusable services for Content or its embedders, defined in //components/services. The motivations, advice, and standards discussed in this document apply to all service definitions in the Chromium tree.

One of the main motivations for expressing Chromium as a collection of services is long-term maintainability and code health. Because service API boundaries are strictly limited to Mojo interfaces, state owned and managed by each service is strongly isolated from other components in the system.

Another key motivation is general modularity and reusability: in the past there have been a number of missed opportunities for potential new features or Chromium-based products due to the browser's generally monolothic and inflexible system design. With the services providing scaffolding for system components, it becomes progressively easier to build out newer use cases with e.g. a smaller resource footprint, or a different process model, or even a more granular binary distribution.

Service Standards

As outlined above, individual services are intended for graceful reusability across a broad variety of use cases. To enable this goal, we have rigorous standards on services' structure and public API design. Before doing significant work in //services (or other places where services are defined), please internalize these standards. All Chromium developers are responsible for upholding them!

Public Service APIs

In creating and maintaining a service's public API, please respect the following principles:

  • The purpose of a service should be readily apparent.
  • The supported client use cases of the service should be easy for a new consumer to understand.
  • The service should use idioms and design patterns consistent with other services.
  • From the service‘s public API documentation and tests, it should be feasible to develop a new implementation of the service which satisfies existing clients and doesn’t require mimicking internal implementation details of the existing service.
  • Perhaps most important of all, a service's public API should be designed with multiple hypothetical clients in mind, not focused on supporting only a single narrow use known at development time. Always be thinking about the future!

If you‘re working on a new service and have concerns or doubts about API design, please post to and ask for help. The list is generally quite responsive, and it’s loaded with people who have done a lot of work on services.

Service API Design Tips

Using Interface Factories to Establish Context

One common pitfall when designing service APIs is to write something like:

interface GoatTeleporter {
  // Sets the client interface pipe for this teleporter. Must be called before
  // other interface methods.
  SetClient(GoatTeleporterClient client);

  TeleportGoat(string name);

interface GoatTeleporterClient {

The problem with this approach is that a client may easily fail to call SetClient before calling TeleportGoat. When such ordering requirements are necessary, the service can benefit clients by designing an API that is harder to fail at. For example:

interface GoatTeleporterFactory {
  GetGoatTeleporter(GoatTeleporter& request, GoatTeleporterClient client);

interface GoatTeleporter {
  TeleportGoat(string name);

Instead of exposing GoatTeleporter directly to other services, the service can expose GoatTeleporterFactory instead. Now it's impossible for a client to acquire a functioning GoatTeleporter pipe without also providing a corresponding client pipe to complement it.

Interface Naming

Just some basic tips for service and interface naming:

  • Strive to give your service's main interface a name that directly conveys the general purpose of the service (e.g., NetworkService, StorageService) rather than a meaningless codename like Cromulator.

  • Strive to avoid conceptual layering violations in naming and documentation -- e.g., avoid referencing Blink or Content concepts like “renderers” or “frame hosts”.

  • Use the names FooClient and FooObserver consistently in interfaces. If there is an expected 1:1 correspondence between a Foo and its client interface counterpart, that counterpart should most likely be called FooClient. If there is expected to be 1-to-many correspondence between a Foo and its counterpart clients, the client interface may be better named FooObserver.

Service Directory & Dependency Structure

Services typically follow a canonical directory structure:

//services/service_name/               # Private implementation
                               mojom/  # Mojom interfaces
                               cpp/    # C++ client libraries (optional)
                               java/   # Java client libararies (optional, rare)
                               js/     # JS client libraries (optional, rare)

As a general rule, nothing below /public can depend on the private service implementation (i.e. things above /public). Enforcing this principle makes it much easier to keep the service's state well-isolated from the rest of the system.

Generally the language-specific client libraries are built against only the public mojom API of the service (and usually few other common dependencies like //base and //mojo).

Even in the private service implementation, services should not depend on very large components like Content, Chrome, or Blink.

NOTE: Exceptions to the above rule are made in rare cases where Blink or V8 is actually required as part of the service implementation. For example "data_decoder" uses Blink implementation to decode common image formats, and "proxy_resolver" uses V8 to execute proxy autoconfig scripts.

Service Documentation

  • Every service should have a top-level that explains the purpose and supported usage models of the service.

  • Every public interface should be documented within its Mojom file at both the interface level and indivudal message level.

  • Interface documentation should be complete enough to serve as test specifications. If the method returns information of a user's accounts, what should happen if the user is not signed in? If the method makes a request for an access token, what happens if a client makes a second method call before the first one has completed? If the method returns a nullable object, under which conditions will it be null?

  • Avoid writing interface documentation which is unnecessarily prescriptive about implementation details. Keep in mind that these are interface definitions, not implementations thereof.

  • Avoid writing documentation which is tailored to a specific client.

Service Testing

  • Try to cover service implementation details with unit tests tied as closely as possible to the private implementation object or method being tested, rather than exercising implementation details through public API surface.

  • For integration tests, try to have tests cover as much of the public API surface as possible while mocking out as little of the underlying service as possible.

  • Treat the public API tests as “conformance tests” which clearly demonstrate what expectations and guarantees are supposed to be upheld by any implementation of the service's APIs.

Adding a New Service

Please start a thread on if you want to propose the introduction of a new service.

If you are servicifying an existing Chromium feature, please check out Servicifying Chromium Features.

Other Docs

Here are some other external documents that aren't quite fully captured by any documents in the Chromium tree. Beware of obsolete information:

Additional Support

You can always post to with questions or concerns about anything related to service development.