runtime.Port

A Port object represents one end of a connection between two specific contexts, which can be used to exchange messages.

One side initiates the connection, using a connect() API. This returns a Port object. The other side listens for connection attempts using an onConnect listener. This is passed a corresponding Port object.

Once both sides have Port objects, they can exchange JSON messages using Port.postMessage() and Port.onMessage. When they are finished, either end can disconnect using Port.disconnect(), which will generate a Port.onDisconnect event at the other end, enabling the other end to do any cleanup required.

You can use this pattern to communicate between: different parts of your WebExtension (for example, between content scripts and background scripts) or between your WebExtension and a native application running on the user's computer. You need to use different connection APIs for different sorts of connections, as detailed in the table below.

Connection type Initiate connection attempt Handle connection attempt
Background script to content script tabs.connect() runtime.onConnect
Content script to background script runtime.connect() runtime.onConnect
WebExtension to native application runtime.connectNative() Not applicable (see Native messaging).

Type

Values of this type are objects. They contain the following properties:

name
string. The port's name, defined in the runtime.connect() or tabs.connect() call that created it. If this port is connected to a native application, its name is the name of the native application.
disconnect
function. Disconnects a port. Either end can call this when they have finished with the port. It will cause onDisconnect to be fired at the other end. This is useful if the other end is maintaining some state relating to this port, which can be cleaned up on disconnect. If this port is connected to a native application, this function will close the native application.
onDisconnect
object. This contains the addListener() and removeListener() functions common to all events in WebExtensions. Listener functions will be called when the other end has called Port.disconnect(). This event will only be fired once for each port.
onMessage
object. This contains the addListener() and removeListener() functions common to all events in WebExtensions. Listener functions will be called when the other end has sent this port a message. The listener will be passed the JSON object that the other end sent.
postMessage
function. Send a message to the other end. This takes one argument, which is a JSON object representing the message to send. It will be delivered to any script listening to the port's onMessage event, or to the native application if this port is connected to a native application.
senderOptional
runtime.MessageSender. Contains information about the sender of the message. This property will only be present on ports passed to onConnect/onConnectExternal listeners.

Browser compatibility

Chrome Edge Firefox Firefox for Android Opera
Basic support Yes No 45.0 48.0 33

Examples

Connecting from content scripts

This content script:

  • connects to the background script and stores the Port in a variable called myPort.
  • listens for messages on myPort and logs them.
  • sends messages to the background script, using myPort, when the user clicks the document.
// content-script.js

var myPort = chrome.runtime.connect({name:"port-from-cs"});
myPort.postMessage({greeting: "hello from content script"});

myPort.onMessage.addListener(function(m) {
  console.log("In content script, received message from background script: ");
  console.log(m.greeting);
});

document.body.addEventListener("click", function() {
  myPort.postMessage({greeting: "they clicked the page!"});
});

The corresponding background script:

  • listens for connection attempts from the content script.
  • when it receives a connection attempt:
    • stores the port in a variable named portFromCS.
    • sends the content script a message using the port.
    • starts listening to messages received on the port, and logs them.
  • sends messages to the content script, using portFromCS, when the user clicks the add-on's browser action.
// background-script.js

var portFromCS;

function connected(p) {
  portFromCS = p;
  portFromCS.postMessage({greeting: "hi there content script!"});
  portFromCS.onMessage.addListener(function(m) {
    console.log("In background script, received message from content script")
    console.log(m.greeting);
  });
}

chrome.runtime.onConnect.addListener(connected);

chrome.browserAction.onClicked.addListener(function() {
  portFromCS.postMessage({greeting: "they clicked the button!"});
});

Connecting to native applications

This example connects to the native application "ping_pong" and starts listening for messages from it. It also sends the native application a message when the user clicks a browser action icon:

/*
On startup, connect to the "ping_pong" app.
*/
var port = chrome.runtime.connectNative("ping_pong");

/*
Listen for messages from the app.
*/
port.onMessage.addListener((response) => {
  console.log("Received: " + response);
});

/*
On a click on the browser action, send the app a message.
*/
chrome.browserAction.onClicked.addListener(() => {
  console.log("Sending:  ping");
  port.postMessage("ping");
});

Acknowledgements

This API is based on Chromium's chrome.runtime API. This documentation is derived from runtime.json in the Chromium code.

Microsoft Edge compatibility data is supplied by Microsoft Corporation and is included here under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Document Tags and Contributors

 Contributors to this page: wbamberg, chrisdavidmills
 Last updated by: wbamberg,