In this article I’m going to walk you through some of the things that we can do with the Chrome Developer Tools to improve our web development workflow.
Accessing Chrome Dev Tools
You can access the Chrome Developer Tools by clicking on the Chrome Settings button –> Tools –> Developer Tools.
First there’s the elements panel which we can use to inspect and edit the html that is used in a web page.
This is very useful for when you want to edit the HTML of the web page that you’re working on, adding some classes or attributes on the fly.
As you can see from the screenshot above there’s a bunch of things that you can do with the currently selected element like copying its HTML, Edit the HTML, or deleting the node which you can do by just pressing delete on your keyboard. If you mess up you can always press on ctrl + z to undo the changes that you’ve made.
You can also edit entire HTML blocks or navigate directly to the parent element of the currently selected element.
You can also drag elements around by holding the left mouse button and then dragging the element to where you want it to be and then finally releasing it.
Another thing that you can do within the elements panel is live editing of the CSS used in a particular element.
You can add new styles by pressing tab while the cursor is inside the value of the last property for a specific selector. As you can see from the screenshot below it also gives you a nice auto-completion for every property and values that are currently supported by the browser.
You can also disable a specific style by unchecking the checkbox before the property:
To delete a property entirely you can press delete while the cursor is either inside of the property or the value.
There’s also a sweet color picker which you can use to experiment on the color that you want to use.
You can also directly edit the css file by clicking on the name of the css file that you want to edit.
After that you can just edit the file like you usually do in a text-editor and the web page will be automatically updated as you type in the value for each property. The only difference is that you don’t get the auto-completion while in this mode.
But the only problem with this is that all your changes only lives on the browser once you refresh the page all your changes will be gone. And the only plugin-less solution would be to click on the filename of the css file that you’ve edited then copy all of its contents and then paste it back on your source file. Or you can actually right click on the file and then click on save.
From the resources panel you can also see what’s stored in Web SQL, Indexed DB, local storage, session storage, cookies, and application cache which is mainly specified in the manifest file whenever you want your application to be accessed offline.
The resources panel also gives you a nice preview of the file that you’re currently viewing. For images you get something like this:
Next is the network panel where you can see the list of files which are loaded by the web page. Either on initial page load or while the users are interacting with the web page. So you can actually see the AJAX requests, template files and other network requests in the network panel.
Here are some of the information that you can see on the Network Panel:
Name – the name of the file that was requested.
Method – the method that was used to get the specific file (GET, POST).
Type – the type of file that was requested.
Status – the status of the request status. The common status are 200 OK which means the request was successful and the file was directly downloaded from the server. There’s also 304 not modified.
Initiator – the page that requested the file or resource. This is usually the current page.
Size – the size of the requested file in kilobytes.
Time – the time between making the request and the server’s first response in milliseconds.
Timeline – shows the waiting and receiving time for each file. The waiting time is the amount of time in which the browsers waits for the file upon requesting it. The receiving time is the amount of time in which the file is downloaded.
Clicking on each file allows you to view the request headers, preview, response, cookies and the timing.
headers – this shows you the details of the request like the Request URL which is the URL to the file that is requested. The request method which is usually GET or POST. The status code which you also saw from the network request summary earlier.
There’s also the Request Headers and Response Headers. The Request Headers are the information that is present in the browser. And the Response Headers is the information returned from the server.
Some of the information that are present in the Request Headers are the Referer which is basically the url of the file that initially requested the file or resource, the User-Agent is the browser used by the user to access the web page.
While the Response Headers contains information like the name of the Server (Apache, ECS, Nginx and a bunch of others), the current system date of the server, the entity tag.
preview – this is usually the source of the file. If its an image file you usually get a preview of the image.
response – the same as preview but this time you only get the raw data.
cookies – this is usually the cookies stored by the website that the user is currently looking at.
timing – the same as the information displayed in the waterfall timeline that you see on the network request summary only this time its only for the file that you have clicked on.
The timeline panel allows you to view information regarding the performance of your web app. Things like paint times, frames per second, and memory consumption. It gives you a complete overview of how your web app performs.
You can start using the timeline panel by clicking on the
record button found at the lower left portion of chrome dev tools.
Then interact with your app a bit. Usually you would interact on the parts of your app in which you want to measure the performance. Once you’re done click on the
On first look this might really look complicated. I also had no idea where the hell should I start looking the first time I used the timeline panel.
First let’s talk about the colors that you see in the timeline panel:
The length of these colors depends on the amount of time (in milliseconds) that the browser executed the operation. That’s about all I can share about the timeline panel. I’m not really in the level yet of measuring the performance of the applications that I’m trying to build especially in the frontend because I do more backend than I do frontend.
There are also some shortcuts which you can use to select elements.
To select the element that is currently selected in the elements panel you can use
Of course you can also use
$2 and other numbers for as far as your memory can reach to select the elements that were previously selected. So if you select the body then the main wrapper then the first child of that wrapper.
$0 returns the first child of the wrapper,
$1 returns the wrapper, and
$0 returns the body.
Other things that the console allows you to do:
JSON.parseon an invalid JSON string.
assertion – checking if a specific condition is true. You can use the
assertmethod to do assertions. For example when checking if the following values are true:
As you can see from the screenshot above the first two conditions returned
undefined which means the assertion has pass. While on the 3rd condition the assertion failed since were using the strict equality operator which also checks the data type of the variable and not just its value.
You can also assert return values from functions as well:
As you can see from the screenshot above the first assertion failed since 3 is not equal to 4. But the second assertion passes since 3 is less than 4. This is a pretty simple example but you can also have more complex functions checked by
console.assert as long as they have return values which it can check.