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DevTools: Essential Tricks for Web Development

Development tools, commonly known as DevTools, are built-in features in most modern web browsers. They are essential for web developers as they provide a range of powerful capabilities. They allow you to inspect, debug, and modify the content of a web page in real-time.

What are DevTools?

DevTools, short for Developer Tools, are an essential part of any web developer’s toolkit, regardless of their level of experience. They allow developers to inspect and manipulate the content of a web page in real-time. They are particularly useful during the process of web development and debugging. By using DevTools, developers have access to a wide range of features, including element inspection, JavaScript code debugging, responsive design visualization, and network request analysis.

The Importance of DevTools for Web Developers

One of the key functions of DevTools is the ability to debug errors. By using breakpoints, developers can pause the code execution at a specific point and examine the state of variables and the execution flow. This allows for efficient identification and resolution of issues, saving time and effort in the development process. Additionally, the console in DevTools is a powerful tool that enables JavaScript testing, printing debugging messages, executing commands, and evaluating expressions.

The Functionality of Network in DevTools

Another notable tool in DevTools is the Network functionality. It allows monitoring and analyzing network requests and responses during the loading of a web page. This helps in understanding how the page communicates with the server and identifying performance issues. It also facilitates data transfer optimization.

7 Essential Tips to Maximize the Potential of DevTools

Here are a series of tips to make your work more productive when using DevTools:

Design Mode

Developers often inspect and modify the HTML of a page for previewing or testing changes. Working directly with HTML in DevTools can be challenging due to the code structure and whitespace. However, there is a feature in DevTools known as Design Mode that enables live visual changes.

Enabling Design Mode is a simple process that requires following specific instructions. First, make sure the web page is fully loaded and open DevTools in the “Console” tab. Then, enter a short JavaScript code: document.designMode = “on” and press Enter/Return. Once activated, you can edit the web page as if you were working on a real-time document.

This feature is especially useful for making quick changes to the content and design of a page.

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Inspect Element

One of the most powerful features of DevTools is the ability to inspect elements on a web page. Simply right-click on any element and select “Inspect” to open the development tool. From there, you will be presented with a detailed view of the HTML and CSS code associated with the selected element.

The development tool allows you to explore the structure of the page in real-time and make instant adjustments. You can edit the HTML and CSS code directly within the tool and see the changes reflected instantly on the page. This is especially useful when experimenting with different styles and wanting an immediate preview of how the element will look with those applied changes.

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Force DOM Element State

Sometimes, when inspecting a particular element, it is necessary to test a specific behavior that element may have. To facilitate this process, Chrome DevTools offers the “Force State” feature. Simply right-click on the element you want to inspect and select this option from the dropdown menu.

When selecting “Force State,” you will be presented with a set of options that allow you to view and edit the CSS code for that element in a specific state. This feature is particularly useful for debugging and optimizing the behavior of a specific element in different situations.

For example, suppose you want to test how a button looks when the mouse cursor is over it (the “hover” state). By forcing the “hover” state on the button element, you can view and edit the CSS code that applies to that state. This allows you to make specific adjustments and customizations for that particular state, making it easier to optimize the design and interaction of the element.

The ability to force the state of an element in DevTools helps save time and avoids the need to write additional code or make temporary changes to your source code. You can experiment directly within the development tool and see real-time results.

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Responsive Design Visualization

At the top of DevTools, you will find a button to enable mobile device visualization. Once opened, you can select a predefined dimension or specify a custom one. This helps you verify how your site will look on different devices and optimize its design for an optimal mobile experience.

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Edit and Resend Network Requests

Within the “Network” section in Chrome DevTools, you can edit and resend requests without reloading. This is useful for testing, tweaking, and optimizing communication between the browser and server, offering flexibility.

When on the “Network” tab of DevTools, you can select an existing request from the list of requests made by the page. Once the request is selected, simply right-click and choose the option to edit it. This will open an editor that allows you to modify the parameters of the request, such as headers, data sent, or even the HTTP method used.

The ability to edit a request comes in handy in different scenarios. You can test specific adjustments in communication with the server, modify headers to simulate conditions, and adjust data sent to validate the application.

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Simulate Network Conditions

In the “Network” tab of Chrome DevTools, there is a powerful feature: the ability to simulate different network conditions. You can adjust the connection speed to test slow or unstable connections, helping evaluate the performance of your website in realistic situations.

This feature is especially useful for optimizing your site and delivering a smooth user experience. By simulating slower network conditions, you can identify potential bottlenecks and areas for performance improvement. You can also test the site’s response under unstable connections, such as intermittent disruptions or speed fluctuations.

By making adjustments and optimizations on your website using the ability to simulate network conditions, you can ensure it performs efficiently even under challenging circumstances. This helps provide a consistent and satisfactory user experience, regardless of the network conditions users may encounter.

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Lighthouse

The “Lighthouse” tab in Chrome DevTools is a powerful tool for evaluating and improving the quality of your website. After configuring the data you want to analyze, Lighthouse generates a comprehensive report.

This report covers various aspects, including performance, accessibility, best development practices, and optimization for search engines (SEO). By examining these critical aspects, you gain a detailed insight into how your site performs and what areas require improvement.

With the information provided by Lighthouse, you can take steps to optimize and enhance the quality of your website. You can identify opportunities to speed up performance, make your site more accessible to a variety of users, follow best web development practices, and improve the visibility of your site on search engines.

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Make the Most of Development Tools

In summary, DevTools provide numerous features to explore, debug, and optimize web applications. You can use them when building a simple website, a complex web application, or when experimenting with web development. Familiarizing yourself with DevTools and mastering their use will open up new possibilities and make you a more effective and competent web developer.

Don’t hesitate to make the most of these powerful development tools available in your web browsers.

Explore, experiment, and improve your workflow to become a more efficient and competent web developer! And feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or need further assistance.

Jorge David Ortega – Software Developer at Itequia