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Browsing in a Windows Application: From Internet Explorer to WebView 2

Microsoft is announcing platform changes regarding HTML rendering in applications and RAD Studio VCL Windows library has TWebBrowser for MSHTML and TEdgeBrowser components for WebView2.


It is fairly common these days in a native applications, like a RAD Studio VCL Windows applications, to have the need to display web content embedded into the applications itself. Microsoft recently made a couple of announcements for the evolution of this area of the Windows platform:

1. Internet Explorer as an application is not going to ship in the next version of Windows. However, the embedded control (formally MSHTML, but often indicated as the IE ActiveX controls) is remaining. You can read more here, for example.

2. The new WebView2 control, which wraps the same Chromium engine found in the Edge browsers (often indicated as Edge Chromium), which is currently a free download for Windows 10, will be included as part of the new Windows 11 version of the OS

What does this mean for RAD Studio developers who use the VCL library and need to display web content?

  • First, given the MSHTML control wrapper by the TWebBrowser component remains as part of the OS, you can expect your existing applications will continue to work.
  • However, with IE gone, most web sites and JavaScript libraries will remove the little left-over IE compatibility. For this reason, unless you have full control on the web site browsed and can keep it as is, the old MSHTML will get worse and worse in rendering web sites.
  • With WebView2 available in the Windows 11 OS and easy to distribute with your Windows 10 applications, the sooner you can move to the WebView2 controls wrapped by the TEdgeBrowser component, the better web experience you can offer to the customers of your application

Ultimately, the VCL library doesn’t force you to go one way or the other, and it even offers an extended version of TWebBrowser, which can use “Edge” if available on the target computer and fall back to IE if not. As always the VCL offers you a lot of freedom and it is ready to support new platform features as soon as Microsoft releases them.

In the picture below, Embarcadero.com web site rendered with TEdgeBrowser in a VCL application

webview2_embarcadero-3757167

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About author

Marco is one of the RAD Studio Product Managers, focused on Delphi. He's the best selling author of over 20 books on Delphi.

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