Surfin' Safari

Introducing the Web Inspector

Posted by Timothy Hatcher on Monday, January 16th, 2006 at 10:36 pm

Web InspectorI would like to introduce a new addition to WebKit—the Web Inspector. The Web Inspector lets you browse the live DOM hierarchy in a compact HUD style window, catering to the needs of web developers and WebKit hackers alike.

The Web Inspector highlights the node on the page as it is selected in the hierarchy. You can also search for nodes by node name, id and CSS class name.

One of the unique features of the inspector is the ability to root the DOM hierarchy by double clicking a node to dig deeper. This lets you easily manage large nested pages and only focus on a particular sub-tree with minimal indentation.

Under the Style pane we show all the CSS rules that apply to the focused node. These rules are listed in cascade order with overridden properties striked-out—letting you truly see how cascading stylesheets affect the page layout. All shorthand properties have a disclosure-triangle to show and hide the expanded properties created by the shorthand.

So update your tree or download the nightly and give the new Web Inspector a try. The nightly always has the Web Inspector enabled. However, to enable the inspector for your own build, you will need to type the following in the Terminal once:

defaults write com.apple.Safari \
WebKitDeveloperExtras -bool true

You will then see a new “Inspect Element” contextual menu item on any web page. This will open up the Web Inspector and refocus to the node under your cursor.

We have added a new “Web Inspector” component to Bugzilla to track any issues of feature requests you might have.

I would like to give a big thank you to Dave Hyatt for all the low-level support and design ideas, as well as Geoff Garen and Maciej for helping to brainstorm a great user interface.

88 Responses to “Introducing the Web Inspector”

  1. rendezvouscp Says:

    This looks really fantastic you guys. The pane looks really useful. Thanks for the development.

    However, it feels like, with this new nightly build, I have to be really careful with what I’m doing because it keeps crashing with regular frequency. :(
    -Chasen

  2. Mark Rowe Says:

    Nice work on the Web Inspector Tim. It looks really awesome! I look forward to seeing the Properties and Metrics tabs completed.

    Chasen, it would be very helpful if you could file a bug report on the crashes you are experiencing at http://webkit.org/new-bug. If you can find and describe a sequence of actions that crashes the nightly reliably it should make it easier to track down the problem

  3. rendezvouscp Says:

    I’m working on it Mark—the thing is, it’s pretty random. At first it was only crashing when I went to my local testing sites, then I thought it could have been an application/xhtml+xml bug that had slipped in, but now I don’t know what to think. The best I can do, from the report generated after a crash, is that this thread crashed:

    0 com.apple.WebCore 0x011eaf98 WebCore::Loader::cancelRequests(WebCore::DocLoader*) + 376

    It looks like it’s crashing if a page is loading and that page is “closed” (either actually closed or a new url was requested). If anyone else reports the same thing, I’ll submit a bug. Otherwise, I’ll chalk it up to something on my machine.
    -Chasen

  4. Pingback from [self setNeedsDisplay: YES]; » Heads Up!:

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  6. Mark Rowe Says:

    Chasen, there is a bug report on that crash at http://bugzilla.opendarwin.org/show_bug.cgi?id=6605. If you can find a set of steps that reliably causes the crash, please do add them to that bug. Thanks :-)

  7. Pingback from vade » Blog Archive » New Webkit Nightly Build has some bells and whistles:

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  8. Mark Rowe Says:

    The wonderful Mitz Pettel tracked down the cause of bug 6605 and the fix has been landed. I have uploaded a new nightly build (WebKit-SVN-r12147.dmg) which has the fix included, so please download the latest one if you are experiencing the crashes Chasen mentioned.

  9. Trackback from Frato blog:

    Web inspecteur pour Safari

    La dernière nightly build de Safari ajoute une nouvelle fonctionnalité pour les développeurs, l’inspecteur web. Cet inspecteur permet de parcourir la hiérarchie DOM d’une page, élément par élément, et de contrôler le contenu d&#82…

  10. macmoz Says:

    Very handy. It would be nice to see ‘Node’ and ‘Style’ at once.

  11. Pingback from yjblog » Blog Archive » Safari Web Inspector:

    [...] in the hierarchy. You can also search for nodes by node name, id and CSS class name. (from Surfin’ Safari) Screenshot (click to enlarge): [...]

  12. Chris E Boy Says:

    Guys, this is absolutely fantastic. This is one thing I have always missed in Safari. Now I dont have to use Firefox to check the properties of elements on the page. And this is so much better executed than mozilla’s attempt.

    I do agree with macmoz though, it would be great to see these two somehow grouped together.

    Thanks guys

  13. google636 Says:

    looks sweet!

    I find it a bit too transparent, but I guess that is part of Quartz / Cocoa?
    Also, the scrolling is choppy (at least on my PPC iMac), and It would be nice to see code (Markup and Content) colouring and indenting.

    Keep up the great work with webkit, It’s a web developer’s dream come true!

  14. DonQuijote Says:

    Absolument génial ! Merci à vous tous.

    I just registered to say it.

  15. Trackback from Geffy & The Ninja Within:

    WebKit inspector

    Just downloaded the latest WebKit nightly build after a new item popped up on my Surfin’ Safari atom feed. Here I learned of a new addition to WebKit, a document/element inspector. It looked pretty swish. I got the nightly down…

  16. scott_reynen Says:

    I often find myself moving from Safari to Firefox to solve a JavaScript bug. One reason for this was the DOM inspector in Firefox, and this actually looks far superior in Safari now. But the other issue is the useless JavaScript errors in Safari. If the JavaScript errors could provide even the most basic information about what went wrong where, I could actually do all my development in Safari and only ever open Firefox for compatibility testing.

  17. wootest Says:

    I agree with everyone else. This is awesome. The interface is much better and more compact than Firefox’s DOM Inspector, which up until now was something I held to be the best out there.

    However, the outline list’s scroller desperately needs to recognize scrolling events generated by your mouse wheel/ball or scrolling trackpad. This is the only significant complaint I have for the finished part. Keep up the good work.

  18. Pingback from Web Inspector at Karmakars.com:

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  19. Mark Rowe Says:

    Scott, if you enable Safari’s debug menu (http://developer.apple.com/internet/safari/faq.html#anchor14) you can use the JavaScript Console to get information about JavaScript exceptions. Double-clicking an entry in the console will open the source and highlight the relevant line. In earlier release it often reported incorrect URLs or line numbers, but recent releases have had improvements in those areas.

  20. redsweater Says:

    Cool! A couple things that are probably already on your radar but I will mention anyway:

    1. It would be really cool if you could edit the styles in place, for testing purposes. Similar to the Firefox Web Developer extension.
    2. It would be handy if the inspect would show inherited styles for any focused element, in addition to the specific styles that are declared for that node.

  21. Philippe Says:

    Someone might clarify this: when a style is striked through, does this mean: it is not apllied by the browser because it is overriden by a later rule(block), or because the browser fails to understand it.

    In a quick testing, I see styles striked out, but those styles are applied to the document/node.

    Very handy tool, btw, thanks for that. But the text on a dark background is hard to read for my tired old eyes.

  22. Pingback from New DOM/CSS Inspector in Safari at D’Arcy Norman Dot Net:

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  23. Mark Rowe Says:

    Philippe, styles that have a strike through them are ones that would apply to the node, but are overridden by another rule.

  24. Pingback from Ajaxian » Safari announces new Web Inspector:

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  25. google636 Says:

    aha! That’s cool, once can change the css for the inspector…
    Just change the background to white and put the opacity up! I wish the whole OS was this customizable!

  26. mcroft Says:

    Don’t know if these are bugs, b/c I don’t know the design, but:
    Web Inspector should not show up in Safari History

    Web Inspector should not allow the contextual menu to inspect web inspector

    Also, I’m hunting down a reduction of a crash revolving around changing tabs with the inspector open. It’s in Svn 12148, so I don’t think it’s the same bug that is mentioned above.

  27. mmmpie Says:

    Ive just started using MODI in firefox, as I couldnt bear the DOM inspector.
    MODI reverses the control scheme, instead of drilling down through a DOM tree and having it highlight page elements, you mouse over a page element and its DOM tree displayed. It also shows handy stuff about classes etc.
    URL is slayeroffice.com/tools/modi/v2.0/modi_help.html , it is used as a bookmarklet so you can easily run it against any page.

    It would be nice to see the Web Inspector support this inverted scheme, I find it much more convenient.

  28. Trackback from Q Daily News:

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  29. Mark Rowe Says:

    Michael, thanks for the bug reports on the Web Inspector. I have managed to reproduce both of the crashes that you reported, so hopefully they will be fixed in the near future :-)

  30. Philippe Says:

    @ Mark Rowe, about that strike-through thing. Thanks for the explanation. I think I have a little bug then… :-) .
    This test-case: http:/dev.l-c-n.com/css3-selectors/namespaces.php, there is an h5 tag with a span inside (green back, white type). The webkit inspector reports the background-color with a strike-through, although the style is applied, and there is nothing that overrides it.

  31. Philippe Says:

    @ Mark Rowe, about that strike-through thing. Thanks for the explanation. I think I have a little bug then… :-) .
    This test-case: http://dev.l-c-n.com/css3-selectors/namespaces.php, there is an h5 tag with a span inside (green back, white type). The webkit inspector reports the background-color with a strike-through, although the style is applied, and there is nothing that overrides it.

  32. Ingo Says:

    Very nice. Thank you.

    We’ll be able to edit the styles in a future release via “properties”, right?

    The strike through is a good feature.

    It is fun to inspect the inspector. You are importing a “inspector.css” file, wait … so I can change the opacity and the colors in

    #body {
    background-color: rgba(64,64,64,0.97);
    color: rgb(240,240,240);
    }

    What a lovely tool.

  33. mcroft Says:

    Mark,

    happy to help, sorry I couldn’t nail the first one down to a discrete set of steps, but I think it may be a really slow race condition around the expire.

    I do think my two defects are related at the design level, if not the failure level.

    Here are some design questions about how the tool should perform:
    1: What should the Inspector do if the inspected element isn’t on the foremost tab of a window?
    2: What should the Inspector do if the inspected element isn’t in the foremost window?
    3: What should the Inspector do if new web content has been loaded into the window/tab that it was referencing?
    4: What should the Inspector do if the window/tab it was referencing has closed?

    What I’d expect is that it knows the window/tab it’s referencing and highlights the data there (1 and 2) and that it doesn’t try to highlight in 3 and 4. Possibly on #3, it should ask if you want to refresh.

    It might be necessary (or useful) to expand the top of the tree from <document><html> to <window><tab><document><html> . It might be useful to have it switch to the window/tab when you select an element in the inspector (maybe, not sure about the HI guidelines on that).

    I didn’t replace the system framework, so I don’t know if it causes any freakiness (or is even available) in other webkit using apps (e.g. Dashboard).

  34. neps Says:

    Looks beautiful guys, excellent work! One thing that always urks me about Firefox’s DOM inspector was that if I had to reload the page, I would have to drill down again into the DOM to get back to the element I changed. It would be nice if you can mark it to lock to that element on a refresh

    Also, what are We / Apple calling this new UI that they are using Everywhere? I know Aqua, I know Brushed Metal (although not official). Is there a name for this white on black transparent UI? cause I love it.

  35. jchilders Says:

    Great job, guys. Lags occasionally, but handy nonetheless.

    Another slightly more robust tool along these lines is Xyle Scope. I was introduced to this a few weeks ago and it has become a regular part of my development efforts. It’s built on top of WebKit:

    http://www.culturedcode.com/xyle/inside.html

    No, I don’t work for them, I just like the tool. :)

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  37. Trackback from Imaginary Affair:

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  38. Mark Rowe Says:

    Philippe, thanks for the example. I agree that what the Web Inspector displays in that case is misleading, though not entirely inaccurate. It shows that the background-color will be overridden by that specified in the ::selection declaration in base1.css. It’s misleading because the ::selection rules are not applied unless there is a selection active. I would appreciate if you could file a bug with a reduced test case demonstrating this so a clearer means of communicating the “overriding” of rules in this scenario can be found.

    A secondary comment is that the page you referenced claims to test CSS namespace selectors, and yet it is served up as text/html. Namespaces are a feature of XML and as such are not applicable in “plain” HTML documents. If you update your page to serve the example as an XHTML Content-Type it will have greater chance of working in browsers.

  39. hyatt Says:

    Pseudo elements really shouldnt be matching. This is a bug in the inspector right now.

  40. Philippe Says:

    Mark, I’ll file a bug with testcases in a moment.
    Note that the page in my example is correctly served as application/xhtml+xml to Webkit based browsers, Gecko and Opera (using some php magic, setting Content-Type headers), and to the W3C validator.

  41. Mark Rowe Says:

    Phillippe: I checked the headers of your page using ‘curl -I’ which your browser-sniffing obviously doesn’t understand. Apologies for the confusion :)

  42. Philippe Says:

    I filed bug 6666 for that ::selection problem.

  43. Pingback from » WebKit Nightly Builds Offer Great New Features For Web Developers « Starry Hope Productions:

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  45. nevyn Says:

    That one just cracked me up! I downloaded the sources to check out how you had made that nice inspector. It used a look and controls that resembles the new inspector in iPhoto, and I badly want to be able to use the same controls. Looking through the project, I couldn’t find a nib file. Instead I found… html and javascript! The inspector’s actually just a page! Way too funny.

    Would explain the funky scroll bars and performance…

  46. hyatt Says:

    Don’t be so quick to finger HTML+JS for the performance. The tree control used in the Web Inspector is Objective-C.

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  48. Synchro Says:

    Firefox web developer is great, but as far as I’ve found, it only allows live changes to CSS. If you install SafariStand http://hetima.com/safari/stand-e.html it adds a simple menu bar to the show source window that means that you can edit the source of the whole page. If you happen to use inline style sheets (at least for testing purposes), you can get most of the functionality of the FF CSS editor, but with the added bonus of being able to edit the HTML as well.

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