Archives: firefox

Needed: Better HTTP debugging on Linux

March 3, 2009 | By Brian | 4 Comments | Filed in: work.

I’ve been running Linux as my only OS for the last year and a half. I’ve recently switched over to Ubuntu 8.10 (from RHEL5) and am enjoying it since January.  The biggest difference between the two thus far has been the more-up-to-date versions of things and the ease of finding & installing codecs and proproetary drivers (NVIDIA).

There is one thing that’s missing from my old Windows days – Fiddler. Fiddler is a (Windows only) HTTP Debugging Proxy which logs all HTTP traffic between your computer and the Internet. Invaluable for debugging cookies, headers and other HTTP specifics. The killer feature for me is the UI which lays out, line by line, each of the HTTP requests which you can glance at for quick infomation, or click on to get a detailed view of just about everything you could imagine. A geek’s dream 🙂

I’m dying for something like this on Linux. I’ve tried Live HTTP Headers, Firebug, Wireshark and a combo of all three. Each of these captures all the data I need (and in some cases much more), but each falls short in one way or another:

Live HTTP Headers
The Good: Firefox plugin, keeps running list of requests, good filtering (especially if you dream in regex like myself!)
The Bad: The user interface – BLAH! It’s just one big long list of requests. Sure you can copy & paste, but rich data like this needs better treatment

Firebug
The Good: Firebug isn’t as good as everyone says it is .. it’s better. If you are doing web development and not using this tool you aren’t a true web developer. You’ve been notified. The Net panel is fantastic, especially the colors and bars they’ve added in recent versions.
The Bad: The Net panel is almost what I need, but here are the problems:  the panel reloads on every page load, blowing away any previous data (argh!), it’s next to impossible to be looking at the details of one request and quickly jump to another request because the UI is so cluttered – a dedicated details pane would help considerably here.

Wireshark
The Good: Fantastic network analyzation of all types, not just HTTP. If you want to sniff traffic and watch your family’s network traffic on your home … wait .. who would ever do that 😉
The Bad: Slightly more difficult to install and use. Not being HTTP specific, it rather generically handles and displays the details of HTTP requests.

I hate to sound like a Fiddler fanboy, but I think that their user interface layout really makes examination of the requests simple and painless. For all it’s greatness, I think Firebug falls short here, but I also think it’s got the best chance to be modified to suit my needs.

… and I just might take a stab at it…

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Firefox – View Source

February 3, 2009 | By Brian | 1 Comment | Filed in: work.

Everyone knows about “View – Page Source” in Firefox & it’s counterparts in other browsers , but have you ever hit a web page that returns JSON or XML or some other text and have Firefox prompt you to choose an application to open it ? So annoying! Why can’t Firefox just display it?!??!

I stumbled across a great workaround while clicking around the Project Zero forums: view-source:

It’s used like this:

view-source:http://www.projectzero.org/

That’s it … just prepend view-source: to any URL and it will display the source… so handy for those pesky JSON URLs!

Credit to dieselchrist for his post on the Project Zero forum
Note: brandon suggesting using the Firefox Poster plugin … definitely worth a look as well.

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