Oct 22, 2010

FireFox Development Tools that Actually Get Used

I took a look at my list of installed FireFox extensions this weekend and I was surprised to see a long list of tools, many of which I almost never use. I like to keep my development environment nice and clean so I pruned the extensions down to those tools that I actually use.

Daily Use

Some tools I use all the time…

Firebug and Web Developer Tools

These tools make firefox into a web application development platform. They’re both great.

Firesizer

Web Developer includes a resize feature, but I prefer to use firesizer. The list of customizable window sized is displayed as a mouse-rightable popup in the lower right of the browser’s status bar. It’s a simple tools that does one thing and it does it well.

screen sizes

The other thing I often use for window/screen sizing is an image with common display resolutions marked out.  I set it to the desktop background so I can see the browser window relative to other screen sizes. Here’s the image I use…

Weekly Use

Here are a few tools that I don’t use daily, but I still pull out of the toolbox pretty often…

ColorZilla

Simplest tool I’ve found that let’s me pick a colour from a web page. Like firesizer, this is a simple tools that does one thing and it does it well.

WAVE Toolbar

WAVE is a Web Accessibility eValuation Tool from webaim.org. It’s a pretty slick tool that gives, at a glace, an assessment of accessibility risks in a web page.

Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow

Google vs. Yahoo! Back when I wrote my first web applications (perl/cgi, …) I never imagined the level of tool support that we’ve got now. It’s so nice to have the big players backing performance tools look PageSpeed and YSlow. If there’s any downside it would be that sometimes it does take more time to address the issues that these tools uncover. But it’s well worth analyzing your pages and baking the improvements into your development processes!

Occasional Use

There are a few tools that I don’t use often but without them I could spend a whole lot of time figuring things out…

Live HTTP headers

When I need to know what’s really going on between the browser and the server(s) I turn on live HTTP headers. It shows http headers in real time and even let’s me edit request headers.

MeasureIt

I’ve been using this tool for years. Before I found it I would pencil in marks on the edge of a scrap of paper. But with measureIt the paperless office has come closer to reality. Another of those simple tools doing one thing and it doing it well, measureIt draws a ruled/box across any webpage. It doesn’t make it easier to use css to line up divs, but it’s a great tools for figuring out if things are really off by 1 pixel (or if it’s just my eyes playing tricks on me.)

Pallette Grabbe

I use pallette grabbe kind if like a batch version of colorZilla. It lets me get a list of all colours on a web page.

Poster

Another great tool from Google. This one replaced a mess of code that I used to carry around for making and debugging REST calls.

Others?

That’s all I use. Each one either solves some hard problems or automates a repetitive task. I’d love to hear about others that you can’t live without.

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