Web Developer + Tamper Data = Firefox Nirvana
A little bit ago I posted about my thoughts on the HtmlPlayground, a site that lets you mess around with css and html. Mike, the president of my personal fan club as well as the secretary and vice-treasurer of the Deasil Appreciation Society, suggested the Web Developer firefox extension. At the time, I responded that I thought that the CSS portion of webdev was awesome, but for me it filled a different purpose – to me the great value of HtmlPlayground was that it provided you with a minimal html fragment and css to start you off – which helps make certain things clear. Plus I like the dictionary of css attributes and possible values.
However, it got me thinking of the two firefox extensions that are indispensible for my work. Seriously, I have no idea how I ever got anything done without them. Those two, as you may have surmised from the title of this post are Web Developer and Tamper Data.
Web Developer is awesome, its got a ton of features that I use every day. The CSS features that I use are “view style information” (which shows you what styles are used for particular bits that you click on) and “view style sheet” (which brings up the stylesheet). I admit that I don’t use the dynamic CSS editor, I like editing the stylesheet directly and reloading – it gives me an undo record of where I am and what I’ve done. I’m weak, I know.
What else is great? The outline functions that can show you the table/block structure of the page, resize window so you can see what your page will look like on various screens, clear http authentication data – if it did nothing else, this would be enough. Saving me from quitting and restarting the browser if I want to test out some basic authentication? Awesome. There’s tons of other features, I like the guide lines you can show up so you can see how things line up. Just go download it and see for yourself. The only thing I think that it lacks is good cookie handling – all it does is show you the cookies you’re sending in, if you want to remove them you have to delve your way into the regular firefox prefs and search.
Tamper Data is another gem, it shows you all the request and response headers that firefox is handling. This can show you what elements are taking the longest to download on your page. I love it for letting me view both the request and response headers for any request – so you can see exactly what you’re sending and what you’re getting back. Useful for checking on so many things, if you’re putting expires tags or sending back cookies, etc… Another nice feature is that you can view a graph of the start and end times for a selected set of requests – this really helps show you what’s causing any delays in showing your page.
If you select a bunch (or all) of the requests you can export them to a file or replay them in your browser. I don’t do that much, because I’m a manual kind of guy, but I know people are really digging on that feature.
Also, with all the new AJAX pages now in progress, tamper data starts to really become indispensible. It allows you to ever so easily track all those asynchronous requests that are going on behind the scenes, so you can see if your code is doing what it should, when it should. It’d be a true and royal pain in the ass without this plugin.
I can’t even remember what it was like to develop web apps without those extensions.