Communicate with the serial port from client web browser.

In my web application(sencha extjs 5) I have a user requirement to read/write data to the client PC serial port.

I am aware of the client browser can not access local machine hardware without installing some binaries on the local machine(Native app, Windows Service, etc..).

I have seen the same question is discussed few years back in stackoverflow forums. But I need to know what is the best way of doing this today with the available technologies?

Answer

Well, One way to do this is develop a chrome app. You can use chrome.serial API.

https://developer.chrome.com/apps/serial

Sample Code,

In your manifest.json,

{
  "name": "Serial Sample",
  "description": "Read/Write from/to serial port.",
  "version": "1.0",
  "manifest_version": 2,
  "permissions": ["serial"],
  "app": {
    "background": {
      "scripts": ["background.js"]
    }
  }
}

In your background.js,

const DEVICE_PATH = 'COM1';
const serial = chrome.serial;
var dataRecieved="";

/* Interprets an ArrayBuffer as UTF-8 encoded string data. */
var ab2str = function(buf) {
    var bufView = new Uint8Array(buf);
    var encodedString = String.fromCharCode.apply(null, bufView);
    return decodeURIComponent(escape(encodedString));
};

/* Converts a string to UTF-8 encoding in a Uint8Array; returns the array buffer. */
var str2ab = function(str) {
    var encodedString = unescape(encodeURIComponent(str));
    var bytes = new Uint8Array(encodedString.length);
    for (var i = 0; i < encodedString.length; ++i) {
        bytes[i] = encodedString.charCodeAt(i);
    }
    return bytes.buffer;
};


var SerialConnection = function() {
    this.connectionId = -1;
    this.lineBuffer = "";
    this.boundOnReceive = this.onReceive.bind(this);
    this.boundOnReceiveError = this.onReceiveError.bind(this);
    this.onConnect = new chrome.Event();
    this.onReadLine = new chrome.Event();
    this.onError = new chrome.Event();
};

SerialConnection.prototype.onConnectComplete = function(connectionInfo) {
    if (!connectionInfo) {
        log("Connection failed.");
        return;
    }
    this.connectionId = connectionInfo.connectionId;
    chrome.serial.onReceive.addListener(this.boundOnReceive);
    chrome.serial.onReceiveError.addListener(this.boundOnReceiveError);
    this.onConnect.dispatch();
};

SerialConnection.prototype.onReceive = function(receiveInfo) {
    if (receiveInfo.connectionId !== this.connectionId) {
        return;
    }

    this.lineBuffer += ab2str(receiveInfo.data);

    var index;
    while ((index = this.lineBuffer.indexOf('n')) >= 0) {
        var line = this.lineBuffer.substr(0, index + 1);
        this.onReadLine.dispatch(line);
        this.lineBuffer = this.lineBuffer.substr(index + 1);
    }
};

SerialConnection.prototype.onReceiveError = function(errorInfo) {
    if (errorInfo.connectionId === this.connectionId) {
        this.onError.dispatch(errorInfo.error);
    }
};

SerialConnection.prototype.connect = function(path) {
    serial.connect(path, this.onConnectComplete.bind(this))
};

SerialConnection.prototype.send = function(msg) {
    if (this.connectionId < 0) {
        throw 'Invalid connection';
    }
    serial.send(this.connectionId, str2ab(msg), function() {});
};

SerialConnection.prototype.disconnect = function() {
    if (this.connectionId < 0) {
        throw 'Invalid connection';
    }
    serial.disconnect(this.connectionId, function() {});
};


var connection = new SerialConnection();

connection.onConnect.addListener(function() {
    //console.log('connected to: ' + DEVICE_PATH);
});

connection.onReadLine.addListener(function (line) {
    //Serial port data recieve event.
    dataRecieved = dataRecieved +line;
});

connection.connect(DEVICE_PATH);

Once you create the chrome app to communicate with the serial port the next thing is to allow your external web page to communicate with the chrome app using JavaScript.

For this on your manifest.json file add,

"externally_connectable": {
"matches": ["*://*.example.com/*"]
}

This will allow external webpage on your example.com domain communicate with your chrome app.

In your webpage,

    // The ID of the extension we want to talk to.
    var editorExtensionId = "nboladondmajlaalmcdupihoilpcketyl";

   // Make a simple request:
   chrome.runtime.sendMessage(editorExtensionId, 
   { data: "data to pass to the chrome app" },  
   function (response)
   {
    alert(response);
   });

In your chrome app,

chrome.runtime.onMessageExternal.addListener(
  function (request, sender, sendResponse) {
        sendResponse("Send serial port data to the web page");
  });

https://developer.chrome.com/apps/messaging

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