Project idea: Firstly integrate an embedded HTML5-compliant web browser engine into Kodi and secondly add support for HTML5 apps as addons (including input support).
I think this may directly or indirectly be one of the most requested addition for Kodi/XBMC, as per the very long discussions over the years in these three discussion threads;
Summary on these requests from what is generally wanted to be achieved with this is to be able use HTML5 apps inside the Kodi GUI with a simple remote control.
With content providers getting more content online quicker to streaming services and even traditional broadcast television companies embracing HTML5 as an industry standard in the form of HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV), I now think that it's inevitable that an an embedded HTML5 engine must be integrated into natively Kodi sooner rater than later. For me the main reason for this is that HTML5 as an accepted industry standard really looks like the only way forward to allow "official" commercial apps to be added to Kodi as addons in a standard way. Providing an integrated HTML5 engine is an acceptable technology for larger content providers to add native support for the existing HTML5 application frameworks that many already now use for their existing apps.
My belief is that if and when Kodi could support standard HTML5 apps (maybe with or without future support for W3C EME extensions) then any content provider that already have HTML5 apps today would in theory at least have the option to port their apps into an"official" HTML5 addon for Kodi. Sure in reality any existing HTML5 apps would probably not "just work" in Kodi, at least not without adding support for input and after a lot of debugging, but in theory HTML5 is also simply HTML5 and it have standard methods for input and video. So as long as apps have none or only a simple DRM implementation based on open source code then many existing HTML5 apps should be relatively quick to port for companies if they are really interesting in providing their content to Kodi/XBMC users.
Hopefully having a HTML5 engine would also not have to be implemented a full web browser interface in Kodi, at least not in the GUI experience sense because only simple remote control style navigation should be needed for HTML5 apps as addons in Kodi, (as this is not so that you can browse websites or read webmail like in a desktop web browser, no this concept will mainly be used as a HTML5 framework for video apps/addons).
The suggestion I have as a implementation project for Google Summer of Code is to try to integrate CEF (Chromium Embedded Framework) into Kodi:
CEF insulates the user from the underlying Chromium and Blink code complexity by offering production-quality stable APIs, release branches tracking specific Chromium releases, and binary distributions.
I believe that CEF is probably the most well maintained and best documented HTML engine for embedding right now. Interestingly enough, CEF is written in C++ and is specifically designed for embedding it into an existing native application to add HTML5-compliant web browser control, so it should be perfect for Kodi integration. And maybe most importantly for Kodi integration, CEF supports: "Rendering Web content “off-screen” in applications that have their own custom drawing frameworks". As mentioned, hopefully it would not even have to be a full web browser if embedded into Kodi, at least not in the GUI experience sense as only simple remote control style navigation is needed, because is would primarily be used a framework for HTML5 addons and other HTML based addons inside Kodi.
Another approach could be making a HTML layout engine like CEF (or Chromium/WebKit/Blink/Gecko) into a new video player for Kodi, similar to the DVDPlayer, and have that player be cross-platform. I mean DVDPlayer code in Kodi is already very modular and can today use libdvdnav/libdvdread/libdvdcss to playback DVD-Video movies with menus, and it can use libbluray/libaacs to playback Blu-ray Disc movies with menus. So maybe an HTML layout engine like Chromium/WebKit/Blink/Gecko could be made into its own player for XBMC, and that way "playback" HTML5 apps with menus. At least then all the code would be contain within that one "Chromium/WebKit/Blink/Gecko" (HTML5) player. If that would be possible then it would also be simpler to one day replace that first HTML5 player with one made from a other HTML5 layout engine in the future.
Anyway, here is a good article about some benefits and what to consider when integrating Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) as HTML5 rendering engine into applications like Kodi
Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) - Simple framework for embedding Chromium-based browsers in other applications
The Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) is a simple framework for embedding Chromium-based browsers in other applications. It is a BSD-licensed open source project founded by Marshall Greenblatt in 2008 and based on the Google Chromium project. Unlike the Chromium project itself, which focuses mainly on Google Chrome application development, CEF focuses on facilitating embedded browser use cases in third-party applications. CEF insulates the user from the underlying Chromium and Blink code complexity by offering production-quality stable APIs, release branches tracking specific Chromium releases, and binary distributions. Most features in CEF have default implementations that provide rich functionality while requiring little or no integration work from the user. There are currently over 100 million installed instances of CEF around the world embedded in products from a wide range of companies and industries. A partial list of companies and products using CEF is available on the CEF Wikipedia page. Some use cases for CEF include:
- Embedding an HTML5-compliant Web browser control in an existing native application.
- Creating a light-weight native “shell” application that hosts a user interface developed primarily using Web technologies.
- Rendering Web content “off-screen” in applications that have their own custom drawing frameworks.
- Acting as a host for automated testing of existing Web properties and applications.
Users new to CEF development should start by reading the Tutorial Wiki page for an overview of CEF usage and then proceed to the GeneralUsage Wiki page for a more in-depth discussion or architectural and usage issues. Complete API documentation is available here. CEF support and related discussion is available on the CEF Forum.
Numerous individuals and organizations contribute time and resources to support CEF development, but more involvement from the community is always welcome. This includes support for both the core CEF project and external projects that integrate CEF with additional programming languages and frameworks (see the "External Projects" section below). If you are interested in donating time to help with CEF development please see the "Helping Out" section below. If you are interested in donating money to support general CEF development and infrastructure efforts please visit the CEF Donations page.
Binary distributions, which include all files necessary to build a CEF-based application, are available on the Downloads page. Automated nightly builds, available from http://cefbuilds.com, include the newest changes but may not be fully tested. Binary distributions are stand-alone and do not require the download of CEF or Chromium source code. Symbol files for debugging binary distributions of libcef can also be downloaded from the above links.
Release notes for past and current CEF binary distributions are available here.
The CEF project is an extension of the Chromium project. CEF maintains development and release branches that track Chromium branches. CEF source code can be downloaded, built and packaged manually or with automated tools. Visit the BranchesAndBuilding Wiki page for more information.
The base CEF framework includes support for the C and C++ programming languages. Thanks to the hard work of external maintainers CEF can integrate with a number of other programming languages and frameworks. These external projects are not maintained by CEF so please contact the respective project maintainer if you
Regarding alternative methods of rendering CEF onto a frame buffer under Linux checkout these tips: