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Better Browsers for the Web Dev

vip3rousmango profile image Al Romano ・3 min read

As web developers, we spend a lot of time in our browsers! Just looking at my CodeTime/RescueTime stats, I have well over 2500+ hrs looking at browser tabs in 2019. Yikes!

Constantly switching back and forth between tabs, windows, and Inspectors of various shapes and sizes can start to dull productivity.

When we use tools as much as our Browsers we do create a bit of a working relationship with them and over the years I've come to like a few a lot more than others (sorry, IE - looking at you here).

After 11+ years of front-end focused web development and seeing many co-workers gaze upon my screen only to ask "What... tool is THAT?!".

I thought I'd share some of the premium and free browsers I use on a regular basis. They have helped me turbo-charge my responsive web development pipeline and are chock-full of nifty features and functionality. With so many browsers out in the wild, all looking to be the go-to browser for developers make sure you give them all a try!

Here is a list of my favourite browsers built to enhance your every-day development or browser experience.

For Developers

Firefox Developer Edition - (Free)
Firefox Developer Edition DevTools In Action
What can I say, this is my go-to browser for development. Solid development experience with a growing tool-kit every day. Does require add-ons to help enhance the developer's experience out of the box. Amazing for accessibility-focused (WCAG/AODA) development.

Blisk - (Premium)
Blisk Devices in Action
A Development browser built by developers, for developers. Synced browsing experience across devices and have multiple Inspector windows open for desktop/mobile at the same time. Yes, you heard me correctly.

Polypane - (Premium)
Polypane In Action
Polypane is a developer-focused browser that does responsive design really well. It's like having Re:emmt built right into your browser and has a slew of developer-friendly features that once you have them, you're surprised you've gone this long without!

For Power Users

Vivaldi

This is my default browser on all my PC's. Took the Vivaldi challenge and set it as default for a week and never looked back! Game Changer: hitting F2 brings up the Browser Command Palette - do everything from here. Yeah.

Brave
Brave Browser in Action
It's like Firefox but even more focused on Privacy, Ad Blocking and optimizing page-load times.

For Gamers

Opera GX

It's the beauty of Opera browser but slimmed down and optimized for when you're gaming and need all the resources possible, but still, need to look up that one...last...quest...

On Mobile

Opera Touch

The one-finger controls have made this my go-to default Browser on all my Android devices. Using Flow I can sync tabs across devices quickly and easily.

Firefox Focus
Firefox Devices
For when you need privacy out the gate, and don't want to clear that pesky history. Its Firefox but you're never logged into anything you need.

Noteworthy Mentions

Microsoft Edge
Edge Browser across Devices
Yes, the newest build of the browser by Microsoft, is the noteworthy mention.

Having learned many lessons from the past (Internet Explorer...) and no longer looking to be the brunt of all web development jokes for eternity the MS team have really delivered a blazing fast browser experience for Windows 10 users. While it's no longer my default browser I constantly use it for Browser testing and it's legacy IE version emulation is solid.

And there you have it, let me know of any other browsers you think I should test out and add to the list.

Discussion

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torstendittmann profile image
Torsten Dittmann

What i would love to have in my browser:

A way to downgrade the JavaScript experience based on different browsers.

Lets say Array.prototype.forEach() is not supported in IE 11. It would be awesome to tell my Google Chrome:
"Hey, try this page with IE 11 Javascript Knowledge!"

I don't know if I can explain this correctly, but this way I could test fallbacks of functions on different browsers without leaving the browser.

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

That's a fantastic idea!

I have several use-cases off the top of my head I could think of that would benefit from this! Especially when testing graceful degradation.

You can kind of get away with this in Microsoft Edge when setting the IE Emulator version - but I don't know how extensive it goes.

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torstendittmann profile image
Torsten Dittmann

What if I don't run Windows. It would be so much easier to do this in my browser without emulating.

Last time I run into such an occasion was, when I did some research for a Sorting method with different languages for my work.

I found Intl.Collator.prototype.compare which doesn't support Android WebView but anything else. Since we wanted to use this in Cordova as well, I suggested a fallback to a slower sorting method.

I found no way of telling my browser to disable Intl.Collator.prototype.compare for testing my fallback. That would be so nice to have.

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

Fair point, I do make the OS assumption of Windows 10.

The majority of these browsers have a Mac/Linux version but I'm not exactly sure about Microsoft Edge... I think it is cross-compatible?

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crisz profile image
crisz

I think it's better forget about that and start using Babel

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jwp profile image
John Peters

Just wondering why Chrome didn't make the list? The v8 engine it uses, being the impetus for Node.js.

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

I don't use Chrome daily so I didn't see fit to add it in. While I do have Chrome Canary installed for Development Testing I basically go to Vivaldi.

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jwp profile image
John Peters

I've used chrome daily for 10 years now. It's dev experience is great!

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

In the beginning, I was all-in on Chrome and for a long time, it set the standard for what a browser experience should be for me. But once Firefox Quantum dropped, I switched over and had a hard time coming back - Developer Edition even more so.

Only recently, the last two years have I fallen head-over-heels for Vivaldi. It's everything I loved about Opera and Chrome, built with Chromium and contains wonderful power-user capabilities I have yet to see in any other browser.

Best. Tab. Management.

I also love my Phillips Hue Vivaldi theme sync so I can match the browser's theme colour to the lighting when I have my wall-mounted TV running as my secondary display. Very extra, but I like it. It's a nice touch.

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jwp profile image
John Peters

Al, are these other browsers available on Windows? I'm pretty sure FireFox dev version is, but the rest? I want to at least try your suggestions. Tx...

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

Hey John,

All of the browsers mentioned, sans mobile versions, are available for Windows.

Let me know which one you enjoy using!

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Madza

According to StatCounter, around 65-70% of all users at the end of 2019 used Chrome, tho lately its rarely getting included among fav dev browsers, there are reasons for that

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Victorio Berra

Cough cough SameSite cough cough

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

It's today!! :O

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victorioberra profile image
Victorio Berra

They delayed it to the 17th actually because of backlash.

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

Figures... thanks for the info!

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vip3rousmango profile image
Al Romano Author

What reasons do you think contribute to this? For me, the bloat from add-ons was too much. I <3 my DDR4.

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Kelly Clowers

Brave is just a different flavor of capitalism, and Eich can sod off. Plus just chrome underneath