This article is part of a web development series from Microsoft. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.
Yes I’m a Microsoft Evangelist and in my day-to-day browsing, I use Chrome Canary. I want to see the latest and greatest emerging standards and experimental features. It will occasionally have display / graphical issues, so I’ll have to revert to standard Chrome, but after a few weeks the issues seem to be resolved. My main development machine is a late-2013 MacBook Pro. I’m on the road (AKA flying) constantly, and I need a strong laptop with discrete graphics, and also allows me to work on every mobile platform, so this does the trick.
Considering most of my day is spent in the browser, I need extensions to help me get the most of my work. For that, I use a number of extensions in Chrome. Microsoft Edge has also announced support for JS-based extensions while removing legacy features like Active-X and conditional comments. Bear in mind, extensions can not only pose a security hazard, but also occasionally offer a ton of overhead, both in terms of CPU but especially RAM, as they all run as each tab in Chrome runs as its own process, and brings a separate instance of each extension. That means if I have 10 tabs open, and 10 extensions, then I can have some serious overhead!
Nonetheless, here are several which I’ve found to be extremely useful:
Start – A better new tab
When I create a new blank tab, Start will fill it with useful information, such as RSS, Facebook messages, Gmail, how far local Uber drivers are, weather, etc.
I pay $10 / mo for the Buffer service, which allows me to ‘buffer’ or create a pool of tweets which I can set out at predetermined times. This is fantastic for spreading the word about things that pique my interest, but also information which I think would be useful to my audience. Each morning, I’ll hop onto Feedly or buffer and find 20 stories or so and buffer them for the day. This way, I can continue to program, but also spread the good word about things I found interesting. Even better, if I put a lot of work into a blog post or particular project, I’ll frequently buffer it 4x each day, so that individuals who were not on Twitter when I first sent out a notification about the post can find it later.
Dev Tools Theme: Zero Dark Matrix
I spend a lot of time staring at a screen, either programming for work, or playing games for leisure. Heroes of the Storm is my new jam. Because of this, my eyes grow sensitive to the bright lights throughout the day, so I tend to use dark settings for my IDEs and browsers. This extension makes Chrome’s Dev Tools dark, to match the browser theme that I have.
Postman REST Client
Debugging RESTful calls couldn’t be easier. Extremely useful when troubleshooting AJAX calls.
A built-in mobile emulator which spoofs the UA string to that of the mobile device you select. Again, useful for debugging, in addition to testing out several other scenarios, such as triggering events, simulating different connection speeds, as well as spoofing GPS coordinates. A must for all mobile developers.
The Great Suspender
Remember how I talked about Chrome being a resource hog above? Well with this extension, you can put tabs ‘to sleep’ after a set period of time, thereby disallowing them from drawing from your RAM. Very useful. Even better, you can whitelist sites, so that it does not put those to sleep!
This is the best thing for reading RSS since Google Reader (RIP). I frequently export my feeds, so if you are interested in downloading the .xml file to see which blogs I follow, post a note below and I’d be glad to share. Lots of old video games and programming ensue.
Scrolling on Chrome in Windows sucks. The trackpad on OS X makes for such a smooth experience. With SmoothScroll, you can emulate this across the windows version of Chrome and apply a variety of settings to get a much finer experience. My only complaint is that this does not automatically get disabled when I use Chrome on OS X, therefore I have SmoothScroll settings used, in addition to those set my default within OS X. I wish there was way for Chrome to detect which OS you are running and thereby enable / disable selected plugins.
Save To Pocket
I read tons of articles each week, and also send out a weekly newsletter. The best way that I’ve found to stay organized is to add them to Pocket, then create a tag, which allows me to easily organize and categorize them. You can create a free Pocket account and you’re good to go. Extremely useful for having to reference things months later, when you’re thinking ‘Oh geez, what was the name of that article?’
Reddit Enhancement Suite
This adds a ton of features to Reddit, including the ability to make the site darker (easier on the eyes). I occasionally post in Reddit, so I’ve found this makes the experience far greater than just browsing the vanilla site.
If you’ve got any recommendations, feel free to send them my way!
More hands-on with Web Development
We encourage you to test across browsers and devices including Microsoft Edge – the default browser for Windows 10 – with free tools on dev.modern.IE:
- Scan your site for out-of-date libraries, layout issues, and accessibility
- Use virtual machines for Mac, Linux, and Windows
- Remotely test for Microsoft Edge on your own device
- Coding Lab on GitHub: Cross-browser testing and best practices
In-depth tech learning on Microsoft Edge and the Web Platform from our engineers and evangelists:
- Woah, I can test Edge & IE on a Mac & Linux! (from Rey Bango)
- The Edge Rendering Engine that makes the Web just work (from Jacob Rossi)
- Unleash 3D rendering with WebGL (from David Catuhe including the vorlon.JS and babylonJS projects)
- Hosted web apps and web platform innovations (from Kevin Hill and Kiril Seksenov including the manifold.JS project)
More free cross-platform tools & resources for the Web Platform:
The Principles of Beautiful Web Design, 4th Edition
Docker for Web Developers
Learn PHP in One Day and Learn It Well