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DISCUSS: How would the ideal browser for devs be like?

naseki profile image Naseki Updated on ・1 min read

Imagine a world where devs have the perfect browser to make and debug websites with... a browser that helps us develop faster and more efficiently... how would it be like?

Firefox is always seen as one of the best browsers among the most popular ones, and there are already dev-oriented browsers like Polypane, but could we go a step further?

✍ Comment below answering these two questions

  1. What browser do you currently use and why?
  2. How do you see a perfect browser for devs? What features would it have? Think of stuff like: an even more advanced CSS debugger than Firefox', an in-built colour picker, accessibility tools etc.

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Discussion (18)

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited
  1. Vivaldi - I am a tab fiend and their handling of multiple tabs and tab stacking is just beautiful. Also they do make dev life pretty easy and as it is Chromium I know if it works there I got Chrome covered pretty much.

  2. Would have to be:

    • voice activated stack overflow "hey chrome, what is the bloody syntax for prototype.forEach again, I know I have asked it 20 times this month but one more time please".
    • A sanity check list - "are you really sure you want your font size to be 125rem, did you mean 1.25rem by any chance you dummy?!"
    • something that simply lets me click on an element and then draw a box on the page and say "see this box, this is where I actually want this element, can you tell me which property I botched for the content to end up waaaay over there please?"

A serious answer

I would actually like the items above, but in reality they are a little bit silly 😋

One thing I would actually love to see from a development perspective is a one click button built into the browser that non tech savvy users can use to send performance traces, error information, screenshots etc.

That way when you get that annoying bug report of an issue you cannot replicate they can press a button and send you the information needed.

If this was browser controlled, security and privacy could be easily accounted for I just want to know what "it was slow today" actually means - are you running a 10 year old dual core laptop with a physical HDD on Windows 7 that was running a virus scan for the first time in 3 months and had to wait 3 seconds for a page to load, or do you have a gigabit connection and a monster PC and our application has an actual intermittent issue under certain circumstances?

I am aware we have loads of ways to handle this but building into the browser would be soooo much better.

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naseki profile image
Naseki Author

Yay!!!! Fellow Vivaldi user. 🤝 I love the browser mainly for the tab stacking as well haha.

A simple report tool sounds like a really cool idea! Seeing a button like that may also encourage people to actively find bugs or at least don't feel anxious about reporting them. 😀

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kilianvalkhof profile image
Kilian Valkhof

Thanks for mentioning Polypane! (I'm the creator), I'll be keeping an eye out for this discussion :)

Obviously I think most regular browser do a poor job of facilitating developers outside of the devtools. There's so much more a browser could do. I don't think Polypane is perfect but I hope I can keep getting closer to perfect, I have features planned that will last me the coming 5 years to implement.

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foresthoffman profile image
Forest Hoffman
  1. For personal use, I use Firefox & DuckDuckGo. Likewise, for my current work, I use Chrome. I already have a significant number of Google products, so I want to limit the amount of data they are collecting about my searches. I use Chrome for work because my corp is a mix of desktop platforms internally, so there isn't much need for us to have wide support beyond the Big 3: Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.

  2. Three years ago, when I was still doing freelance full-stack web development, I used Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Safari & Chrome for iOS, and Chrome & Firefox for Android. I had this wide spread because I had to account for my client's product being used on a slew of mobile and desktop devices.

I would have to switch between browsers as I was developing, which meant that I could use the best features provided by each. Even though new browsers are coming out all the time, they all have a focus. DuckDuckGo's focus is privacy. Mozilla's focus is accessibility and competing with Chrome. Google's focus is harvesting data and syncing with other Google products.

The kicker is, no matter how good Firefox or DuckDuckGo, or whatever other focused browers you can think of, provide features to developers or hobbyists. They can't possibly surpass the spread of Chrome or Safari. And, those two frequently implement experimental features that aren't remotely close to the W3C's standards. If every big browser did conform to the standards, we as developers would be able to pick our favorite browser and be confident that it would look the same in every other one.

Unless a browser is already in use by consumers, there's no room for developers to use it. That's because our market is consumer focused. Consumers are the product. Developers are an after thought and have to scurry around to support whatever will get the most eyes on a product. It's sad to think about, but the fun part is we get to put our thumbs in a whole lot of pies! 😆

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naseki profile image
Naseki Author • Edited

Thank you for the thoughts! :)

I think perhaps you may have to think a little more outside of the box. For example, you had to switch around between browsers to see if your project worked consistently across all of them. In an ideal world, there would be a browser that has all possible browsers in one place for testing, so you don't need to have 4 windows open at the same time, and a phone with another 3 apps open. Not feasible at all of course, but it does sound like a dream!

Even if we were to be more realistic, I can't say I agree with your assessment that we should only use the browsers used by consumers. There are plenty of possibilities with Chromium-based browsers and since these would all use Blink, the site's result is basically in line with Chrome's. However, beyond what the layout engine is capable of you can add as many features as you like to the browser itself.

For example, I personally use Vivaldi as my main browser for both work and personal use. Vivaldi is a Chromium-based browser making the sites themselves identical to what you would see on Chrome. However, Vivaldi has a few built-in features that can be useful for devs, such as a CSS debugger, a hover detector, a greyscale filter to test contrast and hierarchy, and so on. Polypane is a Chromium-based browser as well where I could say the exact same thing as Vivaldi (but with a ton more dev-oriented features of course, haha).

Thinking about it, perhaps my question was a little unclear? 😳 Just edited the article a little hoping that might clarify what I'm thinking of. I thought mentioning Polypane and the feature examples would be clear enough haha!

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nefomemes profile image
Nefomemes • Edited

Alright, the first question. I use Vivaldi on mobile (for the cleaness) and sometimes Kiwi (for the extension-support). On desktop I use Opera GX 'cuz it's more RAM-friendly than most Chromium-based apps.

The second question, yeah:

  • Something as fast as Opera GX, it works well on my 4GB RAM laptop. And I can now run quite a lot of tabs with it.
  • Firefox's devtools and Chrome's devtools combined, somehow. Firefox basically covers a lot of things but it doesn't have Lighthouse.
  • If it's a mobile browser it has to have the same experience as desktop browsers. Extensions, themes, and dev tools. Eruda sucks a lot, would prefer use an actual devtool like in desktop instead of that. And for extensions, we already got extesion support in Yandex and Kiwi Browser lol.
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naseki profile image
Naseki Author

Aw yeah, Opera GX is a great Chromium-based browser for low-end devices! It's most definitely very underrated due to advertising itself as a browser for gamers.

Also yeah, Firefox has incredible devtools and I don't feel it's that much to ask from Chrome to have the same features. Hopefully they do something about it one day.

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elvazquez222 profile image
José Guerrero Vazquez
  1. I use Google Chrome most of the time. I guess Firefox would be just as good. Of course sometimes i need to test with netscape or ie to cover the edge cases.

  2. I think the devtools already give us a lot of tools that are being improved permanently. As a frontend-developer though i am sometimes missing to be on the same page as the product managers. So a possibility of any kind to bring the perspectives of developers and pms together could be a good thing.

For example to mark test cases or tasks in a project (website(s)) and share that. Or something like that..

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naseki profile image
Naseki Author

You're definitely right. The devtools are already amazing as they are and they're only getting better!

As for collaborating with pms, are you thinking of something like MarkUp?

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elvazquez222 profile image
José Guerrero Vazquez

That is EXACTLY what i meant. xD
I already started planing to build a prototype that works just like MarkUp. With the sidebar and the toggle...
Always the same story. When you think you had a good idea, most likely somebody already built it.
Thanks for the hint. I will actually present it in our next team standup.

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naseki profile image
Naseki Author

Hahaha 🤣 I feel you. On the upside, it's now saved you a ton of time and work. You're welcome!

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alanmynah profile image
michael r

Brave at home, FF at work.
Brave because it keeps me private at home and FF because it came by default with work laptop.

I'd love to have an inbuilt postman-like tool.

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jolok profile image
Joshua

Same. Brave at home, Chrome at work.

You might have a look at tools like Advanced REST client (Brave/Chrome extension) :)

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naseki profile image
Naseki Author

A postman-like tool would be really nifty!

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lucastrvsn profile image
Lucas Trevisan

I love Google Chrome. Just don't like how my data is used, but I can't live without it.

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naseki profile image
Naseki Author

Is there something in particular in Chrome that you're missing in other Chromium-based browsers (or even Chromium itself)?

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lucastrvsn profile image
Lucas Trevisan

I think my main reason is how it integrates with all my other google products. I complain about my data, but I still using google and all of their products. I think I just need to look into another options and be free of google. I don't hate google and I think my data is more secure inside google than in one random startup, but you know...

I'm moving to Apple ecosystem and I think it will be more easy to move away from google, which I heavily use Google Photos, Google Drive and Youtube.

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naseki profile image
Naseki Author

Ah, I understand the convenience of the Google ecosystem. I've always reached to alternatives but sometimes I wished things could be easier.

I'm not a huge fan of the Apple ecosystem, but it's definitely better than Google in terms of data usage at least. Does this also mean you'll be using Safari from then on?