Google Web Intents Promises Better Online Sharing - InformationWeek
Mobile // Mobile Applications
06:15 PM
Connect Directly
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

Google Web Intents Promises Better Online Sharing

Chrome developer feature makes communication between different online services a lot easier.

One of the most compelling features available to Android developers, Android Intents, is finally available to Web developers, through a project called Web Intents.

Web Intents, like its Android-based antecedent, is a framework for client-side service discovery and inter-application communication, to use the boilerplate description provided by Google developer advocate Paul Kinlan.

Kinlan first announced the project in December 2010. Google said it would integrate Web Intents into Chrome last summer and also said it is working with Mozilla to integrate a similar Mozilla-backed effort.

[ Have you had trouble finding great Android apps? Read 10 Android App Hidden Gems. ]

Web Intents arrived in developer versions of Google Chrome earlier this month. The project aims to simplify the process of sharing data and services across apps. This isn't particularly difficult for Web developers, if the sharing is done through a standard protocol, like JSON. But if you want to hook your Web-based messaging system to Twitter, for example, you have to do so through Twitter's API. And for each subsequent integration of this sort, you typically have to write code for a different API.

This need to customize connections between apps is why you see websites festooned with buttons that provide similar sharing services on different websites.

It would, of course, be easier if functions like sharing could be made generic. You could then use a single button to share to Facebook or Google+ or any social network at which you maintained an account. That's what Web Intents intends.

But Web Intents goes beyond link sharing. Kinlan's goal with the project is to allow Web developers to create apps that can communicate with each other without specially tailored code. Some of the use cases he envisions include: allowing browser users to select a custom search engine without a specific plug-in (Chrome and Firefox offer 10 or so pre-installed options); a print button that could deliver files to any cloud service provider or remote printer without a specific driver; and the ability to easily add photo-editing capabilities from one Web service to any other Web app.

The default set of Intents includes the following actions: Discover, Share, Edit, View, Pick, Subscribe, and Save. Eventually, it could include options like Purchase, which would allow websites to work with a variety of payment processors, without the need for vendor-specific implementations.

Web Intents can be tested using with Google Chrome's Developer or Canary builds, by entering chrome://chrome/settings in the browser search bar and checking the Web Intents box. The Web page at offers examples of Web Intents in action to those with the appropriate version of Chrome.

See the future of business technology at Interop Las Vegas, May 6-10. It's the best place to learn how cloud computing, mobile, video, virtualization, and other key technologies work together to drive business. Register today with priority code CPQCNL07 to get a free Expo Pass or to save 25% on Flex and Conference passes..

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll