Three Small and Useful Development Tools for a Monday

Last week, I came across a few development tools that I wanted to share.

The first is Mobilizer, recommended to me by a new friend, Noël Jaffré (@noeljaffre) from the Fatwire acquisition. Mobilizer is an Adobe AIR app that lets you preview mobile content from your desktop. Currently, it can render the iPhone 4, HTC EVO, Palm Pre and BlackBerry Storm. So, it offers a representative version for iOS, Android, webOS and BBOS.

There’s also a disabled “Create new” option, teasing future functionality perhaps. Obviously missing is WP 7, but given that the Palm Pre is an option, I’m guessing there will be updates soon.

Anyway, Mobilizer offers a quick way to check out what different mobile web sites and apps look like without launching the cumbersome simulators from each mobile SDK. Of course, Mobilizer only works for mobile web, not for native apps.

Next is the User-Agent Switcher Chrome extension. I accidentally discovered that Safari 5 has just such a feature built into its developer tools, but since Chrome is my main browser, I went looking for an extension.

This extension uses Chrome’s Experimental Extension APIs to modify the HTTP headers to fool the destination site into thinking you’re using a different browser. While user-agent detection isn’t necessarily the preferred way to do web development anymore, given the rise of mobile browsers, there are still a ton of places out there that will behave differently based on the user-agent reported.

Plus, from a development perspective, this extension allows you a quick and easy way to see what your users see if they’re not using your browser. OK, it’s for seeing the world through Internet Explorer. There, I said it.

Of course, user-agents change quickly, so the extension’s list of browsers is already somewhat out of date.

Finally, I give you the “What’s the font?” Chrome extension, an essential tool if you care about typography. This extension adds an option to the right/ctrl click menu. Select some text, right/ctrl click, pick What’s the font? and you’ll get a pop-up with that information.

I’ve found this to be a very useful tool, but then again, I’m a borderline font nerd. It’s useful if you find a font either pleasing or annoying; simply knowing what font it was adds some mental meta to that font for future reference, not a bad thing.

Enjoy these tools and feel free to add any of your favorite (and similar) development tools in comments.



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