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The core concepts in webhint are:

  • hint: Is a group of related tests that are run on a resource (HTML, document, image, request, tool configuration files, etc.). E.g.: Verify that the HTML document has a valid language declared. Learn how to develop a hint.
  • connector: Is the way in which webhint obtains information about the DOM, network information, resources, etc. The underlying technique (debugging protocol, web driver, etc.) to access this data does not matter to the rest of the system. Learn how to develop a connector.
  • parser: Understands a particular resource type (e.g.: JavaScript, stylesheet, webmanifest, etc.), and exposes information about them so hints can take action on them. Learn how to develop a parser.
  • formatter: Transforms the results into something useful to the user. It could be as simple as printing out the results to the command line, or something more complex like creating an HTML report. Learn how to developer a formatter.

All these pieces communicate with each other via events. Engine, which extends from EventEmitter, is the one enabling this interaction. Most of the new work is done in one of the previous components as Engine should be kept as simple as possible. The entities emitting events are connectors and parsers. The ones that subscribe to events are hints and parsers.

CLI Flow

The following is a sequence diagram of how things interact with each other when running webhint from the CLI via hint

webhint's architecture

  1. The CLI creates a new HintConfig object based on the user’s .hintrc file. This process validates that the hints are configured correctly, etc. If the there is no .hintrc file, webhint will use a default configuration.
  2. The CLI then passes this HintConfig to the resource-loader that will return a HintResources object that contains the Constructors of the configured resources. resource-loader checks at the same time if the resources actually exist, are compatible with the current webhint version, etc. If there are missing dependencies, the names will be in the missing property of the result. For incompatibilities, it will be the incompatible.
  3. If everything goes well, a new Engine object is created using the previous HintConfig and HintResources, then CLI calls its executeOn method.
  4. Engine then calls the collect method (async) of the configured connector.
  5. The connector will navigate to the URL, traverse the HTML, and send events related to this and the loaded resources.
  6. If a parser has subscribed to one of the emitted events, it will parse that resource and emit new events.
  7. hints can subscribe to any event no matter where it’s comming from (connector or parser). If they find an issue, it will be reported via the report method.
  8. Once collect returns, the results are passsed then to CLI that will call the format method of all the configured formatterss.

Any developer can create their own hints, connectors, parsers and/or formatters, and use them without having to do a pull request to the main project and distribute them as npm packages.

Resource loading

The resource loading of webhint for the CLI has many steps. The following is the most up-to-date diagram of the interaction:

webhint's flow diagram