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NexU: signature in the browser

To fill in the gap left by the demise of Java Applets to communicate with smartcards, Nowina has developed an innovative, open-source multi-browser multi-platform remote signature tool called NexU.

Interview with David Naramski, Partner at Nowina Solutions

+What is NexU?

NexU is a eSignature solution part of the strong and innovative product portfolio developed by Nowina. This Java-less Browser Signing Package is a multi-browser and multi-platform solution, free of any Applet technology. It is extensible and extremely configurable. NexU offers confidentiality, reliability and improved security compared with browser plug-in based solutions.

+What specific challenges is NexU addressing?

The demand for remote legally binding signature of documents is exploding. With most qualified signature mechanisms based on smartcards and the demise of Java Applets (NPAPI), the challenge was to offer a new way to communicate with those smartcards. In light of the above, Nowina has developed NexU, a Java-less electronic authentication and signature solution for the browser, to access these smartcards while addressing the challenge posed by the multitude of operating environments. Indeed, NexU solution is independent from the browser (Firefox, IE, Chrome, Edge) and is multi-platform (Windows, Linux, MacOSX).

+What are the characteristics of this intelligent electronic signature solution for the web?

The main characteristics of NexU are the following:

  • Without Applet: the solution requires only Javascript to communicate with the smartcard from the browser ;
  • Open-source: anyone can use it freely and contribute to it ;
  • Supported and powered by SD-DSS: based on SD-DSS, NexU is leveraging the valuable experience accumulated by the EU reference implementation for electronic signature ;
  • A single version compatible with all browsers and platforms.

With a single version to sustain, maintenance and upgrade are easier and faster with automatic smartcards database update and legislative evolutions covered. In addition, the fact of being open-source is fostering contribution and facilitating integration and reuse. European citizens have already started contributed to it. NexU has also been chosen by the European Commission to support projects using smartcards, like SD-DSS. The contribution of the EC will foster penetration testing and code quality review of the solution. In addition, with its community driven approach, NexU will benefit from users’ contribution and feedback on the smartcards database.

+Can you tell us more about this ‘community driven approach’?

NexU can be freely used and deployed by any Application Provider, Integrator or End-user. It offers the Application Providers a smooth and easy integration of devices for authentication and signature.

As NexU is a software agent which is independent from the browser, it allows to leverage all the possibilities of a true software. One of the benefits is a live update of the access parameters to the smartcards which allows users to always have an up-to-date version of the software without having to reinstall it. This possibility has been further developed by collecting users’ feedback through the software which allows us to constantly update and upgrade our solution. In conclusion, the value-added of NexU exceeds the software solution itself, as it is constantly enriched by the user community.

+Any additional reason to choose NexU?

NexU overarching benefit is to contribute to European construction by allowing European citizens and entities to communicate together. NexU is a solution that ensures legal certainty and is fitting to the needs of a single European market.

+Is NexU intended for Financial Institutions?

NexU is intended for Financial Institutions as well as Member States offering respectively eBanking and eGovernment solutions. NexU is actually intended to all entities wishing to carry out an electronic signature through the web.

+How does it work?



The software agent is installed on the end-user machine and will communicate with the Server via the bowser of the customer (i.e.: the webbanking or egovernment solution). Although NexU is a standalone solution, it can be completed by EVA server (Nowina Extension Validation Audit solution) deployed on premises of the customer. This server will validate the signature created with NexU and will allow to extend the signature (i.e. with a Timestamp).

+Is it compatible with all European smartcards?

NexU is indeed compatible with most European smartcards as it communicates with those smartcards through the XSS-Sig library developed by Nowina and supporting the different European authentication and eSignature devices.

Nowina XSS-Sig solution allows entities to implement their digital initiatives incorporating eSignature without having to worry about neither the connection particularities of each eID devices, nor the evolution of the different devices, nor the development of eSignature legislation.

Nowina XSS-Sig Solution has already been deployed with success in the financial sector for more than one year.

+What level of support is Nowina offering?

Nowina provides assistance on all technical issues through a SLA. This technical support covers the platform itself, with possible extension for additional components and plugins.

Besides a free community release, Nowina offers as well a Pro customized release which allows for additional components and plugins (i.e.: highly configurable signature workflow), as well as branding of the NexU solution including logos, text and colours (white label).

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