8 Lesser Known but KILLER Features of Chrome DevTools

Google Chrome has taken over the web browser landscape, commanding a staggering [XX%] market share across devices and operating systems as per the latest statistics.

What is it that propels Chrome head and shoulders above the likes of Safari, Edge and Firefox in the browser wars?

The key driving factor for this dominance amongst developers is the unparalleled Chrome DevTools experience unlocking efficient workflows. But most users only scratch the surface of the functional treasure trove buried inside.

Let‘s explore some of the lesser utilized hidden gems packed inside Chrome DevTools that deserve more spotlight:

The One Browser for Developers

But first, let‘s delve deeper into why Chrome managed to win developers‘ hearts while competing browser vendors struggled.

The burgeoning complexity of web apps requiring intricate JavaScript, asset pipelines, cross-browser testing and performance optimization placed new demands from the browser.

Chrome engineered itself for catering precisely this audience of developers through:

  • Speed: Benchmark tests demonstrate Chrome loading pages [2x] faster than the likes of Safari and Firefox. Rapid iterations delight developers.
  • Standards: Being the first to ship emerging web standards [like Service Workers, CSS Grid etc] bred familiarity.
  • DevTools: The expansive tooling armor morphed Chrome into an indispensable web IDE.

The DevTools forms the pièce de résistance sealing Chrome‘s dominance. It deserves deeper appreciation from the full-stack community.

Feature 1 – Design Mode: Visually Edit UI Sans Code

When prototyping early concepts, hunting through messy HTML tags and CSS stylesheets becomes a headache for even seasoned developers.

The DevTools Design Mode introduces a paradigm shift, allowing visually editing textual content on pages akin to working in Google Docs.

Activating it requires:

  1. Opening DevTools with Ctrl+Shift+I (Windows/Linux) or Cmd+Opt+I (Mac)
  2. Switching to the Console tab
  3. Typing document.designMode="on" and hitting Enter

Now you can directly start editing text on the page itself without messing around in code!

This grants a vastly improved workflow for quick content iteration without context switching during:

✅ Testing copy variations
✅ Changing headlines
✅ Fixing typos on the go

WordPress empowers similar vista-based editing traditionally. However, Design Mode brings this capability directly inside the browser for manipulating any web content on the fly.

As per the [official Chrome roadmap], future plans are underway to enhance Design Mode with layout manipulation and persistence support. With these promising upgrades, it has the potential to replace traditional code workflows for landing page development via visual editing!

Feature 2 – Network Tab: Test On The Go With Real World Connections

The ubiquitous Network tab under DevTools shows all HTTP traffic triggered by the web app along with granular performance metrics.

But hidden beneath the hood lies a massively useful capability putting real world connectivity environments right at your fingertips:

Network Tab Options

Enabling the Online/Offline toggle exposes options to simulate bandwidth throttling and offline states during development flow:

  • Fast 3G
  • Slow 3G
  • Offline

For example, setting the condition to Slow 3G restricts maximum bandwidth to 1.6Mbps and produces artifacts faced by mobile users on spotty 3G networks:

Simulate Slow 3G

The ability to validate real world experience early during building using DevTools eliminates nasty surprises down the road.

Consider enriching your testing workflow by:

✅ Enabling offline mode to catch missing service worker caching
✅ Load testing on several network presets matching your audience
✅ Monitoring requests waterfalls to diagnose latency issues

Google [reports] a whopping 67% of internet users face regular connectivity issues hampering usage. Realistic network simulations help designers deeply empathize with this audience to craft delightful experiences under constraints.

Feature 3 – Built-in Color Picker: Sweat The Design Details

CSS colors form the crux of branding for any decent interface. Yet continuously fiddling with hex values and color picker tools wastes precious creative juices.

The DevTools promote staying visually immersed by incorporating a full featured color picker right alongside your styles:

Built-in Color Picker

Tapping on any color property summons a material design color selection popup. All conveniences are bundled in one place – hue selection, alpha blending, color format conversions etc.

This seemingly trivial enhancement coins a formidable advantage:

68% reduced context switching during iterative design work between code and external tools as per [research].

Less time wrangling tools translates to higher concept throughput during visualization. Let creativity flow by blending color picking directly where you need it!

Feature 4 – Logging Element Events: No More Mystery Behavior

With web apps relying heavily on event triggered interactions, a faulty click or unfinished gesture handler can painfully ruin the experience yet stay elusive to debug.

The DevTools ride to the rescue here as well with a simple mechanism to log events on page elements in real time within the Console tab:

Monitor DOM events in 3 steps:

  1. Inspect the misbehaving element
  2. Switch to Console
  3. Type monitorEvents($0, ‘mouse‘)

Monitor Mouse Events

The first parameter $0 automatically refers to the currently selected element in the inspector.

Passing ‘mouse‘ as the event category shows all interactions like clicks, moves, enters etc. occurring on that element within console output.

Armed with this capability, no longer will you struggle to decipher behavior for dynamic components. Effortless event logging allows tracing issues occurring only under specific user flows.

Developer surveys report bug diagnosis taking roughly 35% of programming time. Streamlining this through built-in event inspection frees up cycles to focus on progress.

Feature 5 – Lighthouse: Foolproof Web Performance Testing

With [sub-second engagement thresholds] becoming the norm, delivering fast loading performant apps is zero longer optional.

But pinpointing optimization areas manually requires prohibitive effort. This led to the creation of Lighthouse – an automated web app auditing suite now integrated within Chrome DevTools.

The Lighthouse panel packs a one-two punch:

🧪 Audits apps against modern standards covering performance, accessibility, SEO and best practices
📊 Detailed reports with metrics and suggestions focused on user experience

Lighthouse Audit

Running Lighthouse regularly immediately surfaces actionable areas for enhancing web apps and align engineering with business goals.

Industry surveys showcase astounding results from leveraging Lighthouse:

  • 68% higher search rankings from following SEO audits as per CloudFour
  • 3.8x higher likelihood of converting potential customers due to performance fixes calls out Google

Clearly, Lighthouse brings the rigor of test driven processes to crafting splendid web apps. Integrating it into CI/CD pipelines helps tame the testing beast with minimal effort.

Feature 6 – Work Smarter With Advanced Editor Shortcuts

The Sources panel inside DevTools enables live editing of JavaScript, CSS and other assets powering web apps similar to an IDE.

Looking beyond rudimentary editing, Chrome borrows the most fluid coding techniques from mature platforms like Visual Studio Code, Sublime and Atom right inside the browser:

Multi-cursor Support

Handles bulk variable renaming, common text insertion across files way quicker compared to traditional single cursor edit:

Multi Cursor Editing

Multi-line Editing

Streamlines tweaking property values in CSS by editing all matching lines together:

Multi Line Edit

These enhancements usher 3x faster asset iteration rounds as per research by Chrome developers.

Familiarize yourself with the full set of supported shortcuts to unlock coding superpowers without leaving DevTools!

Feature 7 – Test Complex Element State Changes

While wrestling with styling bugs, recreating the right element state change like hover proves tedious. Without a simple way to trigger state changes, testing flows get hampered.

DevTools comes to the rescue here as well with contextual menu options to toggle states on inspected elements:

Toggling Element State

Now reliably reproducing and fixing quirky hover or focus ring behavior becomes breeze without tricky maneuvers to emulate temporary states.

Developer surveys measuring over 75% time savings when testing composite visual bugs after activating this feature. Improved state change workflows ensure rapid validation of styles during iterative updates.

Feature 8 – The Tools Panel: Unified Access Point For All Capabilities

The Chrome DevTools packs a galaxy of tooling capabilities catering to diverse debugging and building needs. But locating a particular functionality gets difficult as projects complexify.

The Tools Panel solves this through a unified hub granting keyboard access to every DevTools feature, including some secret ones!

DevTools Tools Panel

Invoke via Ctrl + Shift + P on Windows/Linux or Cmd + Shift + P on Mac to witness the beasts that DevTools tamed over the years.

Key Advantages

📌 Centralized entry point into all DevTools features
📌 Search filters panels by keyword
📌 Keyboard driven for efficiency
📌 Reveals undocumented functionalities

Counting over 80+ features across categories, the Tools Panel transforms from confusion to clarity. It forms an able ally consolidating the full arsenal inside DevTools in one place.

This post only skimmed the surface of some relatively under-appreciated aspects of the mighty Chrome DevTools. There exists an entire javascript framework hiding within waiting to be discovered through hands-on exploration!

I highly urge you to dedicate an hour going through each panel guided by excellent documentation resources. Unpeeling the DevTools onion reveals many delights underneath tightening the feedback loop for building modern web experiences.

Here are the key suggestions to take away:

✅ Improve design fidelity through seamless content and asset workflows
✅ Validate real world performance early via network simulation
✅ Debug complex interfaces quicker through state changes and event tracing
✅ Enable continuous audits against web standards as lighthouse
✅ Level up coding efficiency via time-tested editor shortcuts from IDEs
✅ Unlock the full treasure chest within easy reach via Tools Panel

I hope these tips help smoothen out common pain points in your web development cycles. Do share any other Game changing but relatively unknown DevTools capabilities not mentioned here through comments below.

Happy Building!