Simon Willison’s Weblog


9 items tagged “v8”


Reviving PyMiniRacer (via) PyMiniRacer is “a V8 bridge in Python”—it’s a library that lets Python code execute JavaScript code in a V8 isolate and pass values back and forth (provided they serialize to JSON) between the two environments.

It was originally released in 2016 by Sqreen, a web app security startup startup. They were acquired by Datadog in 2021 and the project lost its corporate sponsor, but in this post Ben Creech announces that he is revitalizing the project, with the approval of the original maintainers.

I’m always interested in new options for running untrusted code in a safe sandbox. PyMiniRacer has the three features I care most about: code can’t access the filesystem or network by default, you can limit the RAM available to it and you can have it raise an error if code execution exceeds a time limit.

The documentation includes a newly written architecture overview which is well worth a read. Rather than embed V8 directly in Python the authors chose to use ctypes—they build their own V8 with a thin additional C++ layer to expose a ctypes-friendly API, then the Python library code uses ctypes to call that.

I really like this. V8 is a notoriously fast moving and complex dependency, so reducing the interface to just a thin C++ wrapper via ctypes feels very sensible to me.

This blog post is fun too: it’s a good, detailed description of the process to update something like this to use modern Python and modern CI practices. The steps taken to build V8 (6.6 GB of miscellaneous source and assets!) across multiple architectures in order to create binary wheels are particularly impressive—the Linux aarch64 build takes several days to run on GitHub Actions runners (via emulation), so they use Mozilla’s Sccache to cache compilation steps so they can retry until it finally finishes.

On macOS (Apple Silicon) installing the package with “pip install mini-racer” got me a 37MB dylib and a 17KB ctypes wrapper module. # 24th March 2024, 5 pm


Deno Deploy Beta 3 (via) I missed Deno Deploy when it first came out back in June: it’s a really interesting new hosting environment for scripts written in Deno, Node.js creator Ryan Dahl’s re-imagining of Node.js. Deno Deploy runs your code using v8 isolates running in 28 regions worldwide, with a clever BroadcastChannel mechanism (inspired by the browser API of the same name) that allows instances of the server-side code running in different regions to send each other messages. See the “via” link for my annotated version of a demo by Ondřej Žára that got me excited about what it can do. # 7th November 2021, 1:51 am


Subsume JSON a.k.a. JSON ⊂ ECMAScript (via) TIL that JSON isn’t a subset of ECMAScript after all! “In ES2018, ECMAScript string literals couldn’t contain unescaped U+2028 LINE SEPARATOR and U+2029 PARAGRAPH SEPARATOR characters, because they are considered to be line terminators even in that context.” # 15th August 2019, 10:30 am


Node.js is genuinely exciting

I gave a talk on Friday at Full Frontal, a new one day JavaScript conference in my home town of Brighton. I ended up throwing away my intended topic (JSONP, APIs and cross-domain security) three days before the event in favour of a technology which first crossed my radar less than two weeks ago.

[... 2009 words]

Going evented with Node.js. Comprehensive Node.js tutorial—from basic principles to installation and writing a simple Twitter search command-line client application. # 17th November 2009, 1:09 pm

node.js. “Evented I/O for V8 JavaScript”—a JavaScript environment built on top of the super-fast V8 engine which provides event-based IO functionality for building highly concurrent TCP and HTTP servers. The API design is superb—everything is achieved using JavaScript events and callbacks (even regular file IO) and the small standard library ships with comprehensive support for HTTP and DNS. Overall it’s very similar to Twisted and friends, but JavaScript’s anonymous function syntax feels more natural than the Python equivalent. It compiles cleanly on Snow Leopard. Definitely a project to watch. # 9th November 2009, 11:25 pm

And Now For Something Entire... Oooh! Shiny! Alex Russell on O3D, the new 3D browser plugin from Google that makes OpenGL accessible to JavaScript (and embeds V8 so performance won’t suck even on slower browsers). # 22nd April 2009, 12:19 pm


V8 Design Elements. High level design details of Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, including how it uses “hidden classes” to optimise object property lookups and a bit of information on the machine code generation and garbage collection. # 2nd September 2008, 11:58 pm

Chromium. Google Chrome is out! Here’s the open source project, including the code for the new V8 JavaScript virtual machine. # 2nd September 2008, 9:06 pm