Rhino and Envjs

Rhino is an open source implementation of JavaScript in Java and envjs is a simulated browser environment written in javascript. So what does all this mean? It means that you can load up a web page and execute the loaded page’s JavaScript in a browser simulated environment all without a browser! Let me demonstrate.

From the Rhino downloads page I downloaded rhino1_7R2.zip since R3 doesn’t work with Envjs at the time of this post.

I also downloaded the latest Envjs and placed it in the same location as the unzipped rhino folder.

Navigate in a terminal to the location of the unziped rhino folder and start up rhino.

java -jar js.jar

Then you will want to load the Envjs JavaScript that will emulate the browser environment. (location is relative to where the jar file is running from)


Then I tell Envjs to load external scripts found in the page. This is required because scripts running in Rhino with Envjs will have file system access.

Envjs.scriptTypes['text/javascript'] = true;

Then we navigate our emulated browser to the test page that I built.

window.location = "http://mikegrace.s3.amazonaws.com/geek-blog/rhino-envjs.html"

The test page that I built looks like this when you load it in a browser with JavaScript disabled

This is because the page content is built using jQuery

Rhino and Envjs Test

Because Envjs will emulate a browser, we will be able to work with the page in Rhino like we would in a browser.

Getting the paragraph text is as easy as running some jQuery in the Rhino console



rhino1_7R2 mgrace$ java -jar js.jar
Rhino 1.7 release 2 2009 03 22
js> load("../env.rhino.js")
[  Envjs/1.6 (Rhino; U; Mac OS X x86_64 10.6.8; en-US; rv:1.7.0.rc2) Resig/20070309 PilotFish/1.2.13  ]
js> Envjs.scriptTypes['text/javascript'] = true;
js> window.location = "http://mikegrace.s3.amazonaws.com/geek-blog/rhino-envjs.html"


js> jQuery("p").text();
Question: What is the answer?
js> jQuery("code").text();

If you are looking to debug your scripts in Rhino a bit better, you can launch the rhino console in the Rhino JavaScript Debugger using a command similar to this

java -cp js.jar org.mozilla.javascript.tools.debugger.Main

rhino javascript debugger

MikeGrace: A 25 year old Geek that loves his wife and enjoys tech, photography, outdoors, and his motorcycle.


  1. Gio says:

    Hi Mike,

    nice article, I got a couple of questions that maybe you’ve already experienced:

    – are cookies supported?
    – is redirect in a webpage a problem?


  2. MikeGrace says:

    Unfortunately it turned out to not be a good solution for what I was trying to do. It’s a cool project but it couldn’t handle enough of the javascript to be worth it.

  3. Gio says:

    Did you find in the meanwhile some better solution? I was wondering if there is something around that can do some real browser-less js testing.


  4. MikeGrace says:

    Ended up going with a headless selenium server. Also considered using http://saucelabs.com/

  5. padmalcom says:

    I wonder where you found env.rhino.js. It is neither contained in a jar nor can I find it elsewhere on the internet.

  6. MikeGrace says:

    Projects probably changed since I wrote the post.

  7. Ahmed says:

    To get env.rhino.js, you need to build env-js. Run “ant all”, and you’ll find the env.rhino.js in the “dist” folder. Unfortunately, this is not mentioned in the Envjs Guide (not that I could see).

  8. Pani Architekt says:

    I didn’t know how to use rhino-debugger, so – thanks for above nice explanation :)

    Do you maybe know, how to use any js profiler with rhino?
    I considered old firefox with old firebug, but it seems even really old firefox versions use spidermonkey instead of rhino…

  9. Z T Minhas says:

    have not seen envjs updated for a while. is it still an active project? i went to the site and there hasn’t been any kind of action there either!