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I have been working on a very interesting project lately for work. It’s a set of plugins for IE and Chrome to capture visited URLs and report them to a central server so that a remote service can be paused while the user is visiting a page in a blacklist.

To accomplish this, there is a browser helper object written Visual C++. BHO component should not be written in .net code despite the examples on the web. This is because the browser liberally shuts down COM containers which can leave the CLR in an unstable state. Trust me on this one, just bite the bullet and write your BHOs in C++.

For Chrome, things are even more convoluted. You must create a plugin in JavaScript. The manifest must declare both a background page/js and an event js file. The event js has access to the DOM, so any manipulation must be done there. The event then uses internal messaging to talk to the background js. Finally, the background js uses native messaging to talk to a command line app written in C# that accepts communications via standard in. The C# app then calls a WCF service that aggregates all of the data collected by the IE and Chrome plugins.

Did I mention that the BHO hosts its own CLR to communicate with the WCF service, too?

The WCF service is hosted in a Windows Service which also contains a cache that the WCF service populates. Once a page transaction is comple, the cache attempts to send the page data to a webapi on a central server.

Whew!