Testing DevTools, take 2

This is my second day testing Firefox Developer edition.

Almost right after start, I get a notice that there's an update ready, clicking it a dialog was shown stating that the update was ready to be applied. So I agreed and waited, this should be transparent and done without such dialog, specially when frequent updates are expected due to the usage of the alpha channel.

The prompt to save passwords has changed, I'm not sure if previously it showed the user name, but now it has a field with the masked password below it that it's absolutely useless, it can't be edited, it doesn't provide any info, Why are they wasting time and effort in things like this?

So I started working, the first changes were mostly server-side to send new data and modify some JS, then I added two breakpoints to check that it was working as expected, some adjustments, I browsed a little, took a quick look at the network tab, its layout is somewhat different like the Clear button at the bottom right instead of the top left like all the other tools so at first I thought that it wasn't available.

Then I went back to debugging, but now those two breakpoints no longer work. No matter if I remove and add them again, reload the page..., the script isn't stopped and so I can't use Firefox to debug javascript. After restarting Firefox and adding again the breakpoint at the same place this time worked, but my usual reaction at this point is just to switch to another browser and go back to Firefox only when everything works perfectly in other browsers and I have to review Firefox.

I want to check as I'm not sure the value of the document.ELEMENT_NODE constant so I type document.EL and as it's already shown in the autocomplete I press Enter and it uses only "document.EL" so it says that it's undefined, so I press Up arrow, Tab and it shows in light gray "<- again="" autocomplete="" br="" english="" exact="" i="" if="" in="" is="" m="" makes="" not="" pressing="" results="" sentence="" so="" spanish="" sure="" tab="" the="" this="" without="" work.="">In Firebug and IE the first Enter does the autocomplete and then pressing it again shows the result. Chrome behaves like Firefox on the first step but after pressing Up arrow no matter how many times you press Tab, the autocomplete doesn't work.

Back to CSS, trying to add or edit a pseudo-element like a::before it's not possible, the rest of the tools allow it; Chrome even shows them in the DOM tree.

Trying to do some basic testing with Mobile isn't even fair. IE11 has the very minimum, Firefox improves it a little, although not really too much and Chrome is hands down the absolute king. Several features really useful that makes it a non-sense try to use any other tool to start checking for mobile:
Touch emulation: the pointer turns into a fingertip and :hover no longer works. Absolutely a must.
Device list: instead of a list of sizes, it shows devices by their name, and it also adjust other things like the device pixel ratio, so it's easy to get a good view of how it will be viewed on such screens.
Rule with @media rules in the page, good to find the breaks and verify them.
Zoom control, nice.
Network emulation, so far I haven't used it too much, but it has obvious benefits without the need of using external tools to simulate throttling. I know that I'll use it because otherwise it's impossible to test how a remote server works with different conditions.

I've decided to test now the WebIDE to connect to my phone. Yesterday I did a quick test and I gave up. I saw "Chrome on Android" listed and I picked it but nothing happened, and today I realized that then I must go to the left and click on "Open application" and the open tabs are listed there and debugging starts.
So then I tried to debug Firefox as I already debugged Firefox on Android some time ago, and then I realized that it's not done automatically and I had to enable the remote debugging on it, this should be hinted more clearly, when an Android device is detected, create an entry linking to how to enable debugging of Firefox.

One "annoying" thing is that every time that I connect again to Firefox on Android it prompts me to accept the connection, with the only options as "Disable", "Cancel" and "Accept", but not a "Yes, always allow this device", Chrome doesn't do such things.

When connection to a device Chrome clearly shows the list of open tabs and allows to close, open a new one or change the url, as well as proxying the request to localhost, another must have to be able to test changes without having to upload to a server.


Firefox DevTools, a long way to go

This Monday I tweeted about the bad state  of JS debugging in the current releases of Firefox where both Firebug and DevTools are no longer useful because they ignore most of the breakpoints.

I got a reply from suggesting me to use the alpha version AKA as Firefox Dev edition, but I pointed him that it's known that it lacks behind all the other tools, so I would prefer to wait until the most obvious bugs are fixed (I linked some that are important for me).

Yesterday I got another reply suggesting me to give DevEdition another try, and so this evening I've started by opening a document where I've been writing down this experience of installing and trying to use the latest version. It's not from the point of view of a new user because I've tested it a little bit, but I might not be aware of awesome things just because the problems that I find force me to use other tools.

The first step is instaling the Firefox Dev edition, I picked the custom install and of course I rejected the option to install it as my default browser, that's a non-sense that when you install a new browser you're going to make it the default right from the start (yes I know that everyone does this since Netscape times).

After launching the first thing that I notice is that the UI lacks the rounded borders of the normal Firefox. I notice also how slow are the UI animations (it feels the same way in the normal Firefox, but I don't see them because I've added the Classic Theme Restorer and that way I don't have to use the hamburger menu). That's a problem with Firefox itself trying to create useless animations, not with the DevEdition.

Then I try to use it on a site and the obvious first stones appear in my path, the history, autocomplete, credentials, everything is empty so I have to type everything again. Not a big problem, but it will force me to waste my time. It should have prompted me to import such data from Firefox or to use Sync as this seems a sensible use-case. As it didn't offer me to use Sync I'm not sure if that would be a good idea or it's risky to use it with different versions at the same time.

So let's start testing it.

I add a new CSS property "max-wi" TAB, now I type 0 and press Arrow UP, it changes to 1 but it's unitless so it doesn't work. Firebug and Chrome correctly change from "0" to "1px", IE11 behaves like Firefox.

Now it's time to save the changes, I adjusted only one rule but when I try to use the context menu there's no "Copy rule" like Firebug or IE11, I have to manually select the text like in Chrome.

Extra Bonus points and the main reason that IE11 it's now mostly my prefered tool for CSS adjustment is its Changes pane that shows all the CSS changes made in the page. Certainly it's a little buggy sometimes and it could have several enhancements, but all the rest of developer tools lacks anything like this and it's precious to be sure to know all the adjustments made across different elements.
Chrome seems to have something related with the History pane, but honestly I haven't figured out how to make it work as I want.

One thing that DevTools doesn't seems to know is that "0" is "0", it's unitless so when I write "margin: 0 auto;" it's wrong to change it to "margin: 0px auto;". Firefox and Chrome respect my 0 and IE11 does it correctly for "margin: 0 auto;" but not for "height: 0;" (test by checking a property written in the stylesheet that way or modifying a property and switch to another element and back to the modified element)

Other clear sign that these tools aren't ready: Use the context menu and select "Add rule", change the selector or leave it as is, now Tab and you'll find that you're now nowhere, you have to click inside the rule to add a new property. All the other developer tools correctly place you ready to type your new property as that's the only logical thing to do after creating a rule. This breaks the workflow and makes me waste my time moving my hands from the keyboard to the mouse.

Bonus points go to Firebug because while editing a rule you have a super useful autocompleter based on the parent node names, ids and classes. No other tool has this.

Trying to work a little with javascript, put a breakpoint, check the DOM, reload the page. All the tools except Firefox DevTools correctly switch the selected pane to the script that has the breakpoint and DevTools just show that tab in green stating that execution is stopped and waiting for you to click.

Another day I will keep on testing and reporting the differences, but so far I haven't seen anything in Firefox that made me want to use it.


List of plugins for CKEditor

This is a list of the public plugins that I've created for CKEditor, you might find some of them interesting. I've added here a small description and in some cases a suggestion to use it or not, just to help yo understand faster what's the reasoning behind each one.

As you can see most of them are free, so if you want to support my work, you can buy any of the commercial ones and add a note in the payment so I can know that it's worth to keep publishing free stuff. Or at least say "Thanks" in this post or the pages at CKEditor, it's cheap and at least I'll know that someone has used successfully the plugins.

Some plugins are very simple and perform just a basic single operation, others are huge beasts that provides lots of functionality like the HTML buttons or SimpleUploads, take the time to read the linked page for each one.

Allow Save

The default "Save" plugin for CKEditor 4 is quite restrictive and it doesn't enable the button unless you're using the "replace textarea" mode AND you're in Wysiwyg mode. This plugin removes those restrictions and allows you to do whatever you want when the "save" event is fired on the editor. Remove the default "Save" plugin and use this one.

Background Image for Tables and Cells

Sometimes you have to deal with a client or a project where the final user is supposed to be able to set a background image for tables or cells. You might not want to do it, but if you have to, with this plugin you'll get in those dialogs the options so that they can do whatever they want

Configuration Helper

This plugin simplifies some configuration options in CKEditor like hiding/removing dialog fields, and it also provides a HTML5 like 'placeholder' when the editor is empty (eg: 'Type here the description of the product') that goes away as soon as the user focus the editor

Google Maps

If you want to insert a Google Maps into your site you can use the simple embed code that they provide. That's fast and free, but other times you want the ability to provide more configuration options, to integrate it better into your site, create an image to send in an email... In those cases you should check the Google Maps plugin for CKEditor, because it provides a simple interface to control many options of the Maps without any requirement to understand the underlaying behavior.

HTML Buttons

This is a very powerful plugin as it allows you to create any number of toolbar buttons or even drop down lists to insert whatever piece of HTML that you want into CKEditor or even wrap the current selection with this HTML. If you are searching for a simple way to add a button that inserts a snippet or a combo box with a list of options to insert, then grab this plugin and you'll be able to finish your work in a few minutes without the need to read any complex manual.

Image Crop and Resize

This is a plugin that I've created for Uritec SL. It uses the SimpleUploads API to allow the users to perform basic editing (crop and resize to desired set of dimensions) of their pictures before they are uploaded to the server, or even to edit those images after they have been uploaded. For further details, check the ImageCrop page. This is a big productivity enhancer because it simplifies so much the process of cutting out the undesired parts of the pictures and then resize the selection to match the image sizes defined for the site, and it's God's sent gift for those users that barely understand how to use any image processing program.

Images From Word

Another plugin created for Uritec SL.Whenever your users copy some content from MS Word (because it's an existing document, they prefer to create the content that way, etc...) the embedded images aren't copied along the content unless they use IE11. As not all the people enjoy being forced to use a browser, this plugin enhances the default Paste operation in CKEditor so it just ask the user for a couple of clicks to include the images into the content avoiding this way the frustration caused by the missing feature in Chrome and Firefox.

Images From Server

Another plugin created for Uritec SL. Copying content from one site to another one means that the images use the references to your old server, but with this plugin all the images are copied and your content is updated to use the new URLs automatically. Now you don't depend on the other server, you can edit the images in your server, embed them in your emails, etc...

Image Maps

This is a plugin built to use the ImgMap library by Adam Maschek into CKEditor. This way your users can mark the active hotspots in any image and create the standard <map> and <area> elements on them that can work on any browser without any special restriction. For further details, look at the ImageMaps page.

Image Paste

Simple plugin that allows to upload to the server the images pasted from Firefox. You should use this one only as a test case to check that you can install custom plugins into your server and handle uploads, the SimpleUploads plugin covers this use case and many other things.


This is a very simple plugin that it takes care only of removing the "abp" attributes that the AdBlock Plus extension for IE inserts into the content. It's only a few lines of code and it doesn't do anything special if the user isn't using IE with AdBlock Plus, so you should just install it by default as it will help to avoid garbage.

Non-Breaking Space

It's laughable, but a smart guy provided a vote of 2 because the idea is old. Yes, nothing ground-breaking but at the same time it's the kind of little things that are good to have because we're used to them and CKEditor lacks: Press Ctrl+Space and you get a non-breaking space. Nothing less, nothing more.


Currently you shouldn't use this plugin as is. Since the CKSource team introduced a similar functionality into the core I stopped updating it, although you might want to look at its code to fix the problems that they didn't care about despite the availability of this plugin that shows how to take care of.

SimpleUploads (file and image upload options)

This plugin adds a whole set of enhancements and new features so that the users are able to upload files and images from their computer as easy as possible and it provides you as a developer with a full API to go far beyond what it's possible with the default CKEditor API or any other plugin.
With this plugin you'll have the ability to paste files into CKEditor, drop them from your computer, avoid uploads of files that have the wrong extension or are too large, use APIs different than the one suggested by CKEditor, you must read the SimpleUploads page and the linked posts to get a glimpse of all the things that are possible with this plugin and the API that it provides.

StyleSheetParser (Fixed)

The current version of the StyleSheetParser has a bug that has been lying around for years and that they don't care enough to fix, so here is the fixed version that works correctly when the cache is empty and it also works with inline-editing. Remove the default StyleSheetParser from your build and add this one instead.

XML Templates

The Templates plugin for CKEditor requires that you create the templates data in a JSON format that can be quite hard to create and debug for non-developers. This plugin adds the option to use a XML format just like the old FCKEditor did. This plugin extends the default Templates functionality, you must have both plugins installed together.


This is a half usability-half sample plugin. I don't see much benefits to use the zoom in a web editor, but others do so here's a simple combo box that changes the zoom of the content. Nothing changes in the content it only provides a control like other desktop word processing editors to zoom-in and -out the content.


Editing images for CKEditor

Besides allowing to upload images to their server, one of the main problems that users have with the images is the size of the pictures. Even for seasoned users, sometimes it's hard to calculate how to correctly crop a part of the image and then resize it to the final desired dimensions.

Using the features provided by the SimpleUploads plugin for CKEditor, you can now make this a very simple task so that they upload to the server the images exactly as desired, without any extra images laying around, and without worries that if the image is automatically cropped, the heads will be cut off or any strange thing like that.

The process is as simple as you can expect, once you have used it you'll never want to go back:

  1. First add the image to the editor, usually the simplest way for the users is to just drop them from another window with the local file system (Explorer, Finder, etc...), but using the toolbar button to launch the file picker works as well.
  2. Then a dialog launches showing the selected picture and the user is asked to select which preset sizes (that you configure in CKEditor) he/she wants to use.
  3. Upon clicking on one of them, a selection appears over the image, and that selection can be resized and moved to focus on the interesting parts of the image.
  4. Now the user can just click OK on the dialog and the image will be saved that way
  5. Otherwise, if he clicks Crop then the options will ask which image quality should be used, and changing them modifies the preview as well as the size that it's shown that will be used for the new image.
  6. Clicking OK will work like in step 4, the image is uploaded to the server and inserted into the content.

But there's even more:

If the image is already on the server, a new context menu option is added to show the same crop&resize dialog, so the user can opt to use existing images on the server and then adjust them when a thumbnail is required for example.

To get those features, check the demo for the image crop and resize plugin for CKEditor.



Future plans for SimpleUploads

I've wanted to write this post for a long time, but I'm usually a little busy and things didn't look to be quite ready, and it's better to not scare people out if it isn't needed.

The future of SimpleUploads

If you follow the development of CKEditor you should know that for a long time they have been planning to add support of image pasting as well as drag and drop in the next version of CKEditor. Initially it was planned for CKEditor 4.4, but soon they realized that it required much more work than originally planned so it was delayed for the next version. CKeditor 4.5 was supposed to be released next week, but they have announced that the whole release will be delayed by an unspecified amount of time.

I can't state how the planned features will work, as it seems that at the moment it's still a work in progress, but I really expect that their code will make quite hard the upgrade of my SimpleUploads plugin to keep all its current features because the browsers are quite frail in these kind of operations. The correct solution would be to use the new APIs that they are creating (at least I hope that they provide some API) and add the missing bits to provide again everything that they have skipped.

But the fact is that like any previous release I expect that it will wreak havoc with my code and it will require lots of changes and some parts might be incompatible with their code so this will require a compromise and I will work to try to bring everything back to work as soon as I can.

Of course such rewrite will be incompatible with the previous versions of CKEditor, and I plan to provide two versions from that point:

  • The current one, compatible with CKeditor up to 4.5
  • Next version, only for CKeditor >= 4.5

The current version is highly polished and I will keep on working on fixing any minor issues that might appear. The focus of my work will be the next version in order to make it work at least as good as the current one.

Currently drag&drop and pasting are just only a part of the whole feature set of SimpleUploads, so adding them to CKEditor doesn't really mean an end to this plugin, only an adjustment about which parts are handled in CKEditor and how to make the whole upload experience as easy and simple as possible for the end user.

What does this means to you?

If you're currently using my plugin, you should delay the upgrade to CKEditor 4.5 until I release something that works at least with the features that you need. If you don't plan to upgrade to CKEditor 4.5 as soon as it's released then this shouldn't be a problem, afterwards, please check if I've managed to fix everything besides whatever I might write as required changes for the upgrade.

If you're interested only about the drag and drop or paste of images into CKEditor and you're OK with waiting a little while and then using that CKEditor version, then you shouldn't buy my SimpleUploads plugin . Just keep on waiting and you'll be ready to go.

Of course, waiting might not be an option for you as you need a solution right now, or you are already using a version of CKEditor and you don't plan an upgrade in the foreseeable future, or more probably, you want more features than those available in the plan CKEditor (like single click uploads). In that case you can use my plugin if you're willing to pay just a little money; if you want a free solution my plugin shouldn't be a concern to you: I don't have any plan to release it for free or to drop it. People have paid for it and I will try to support it for as long as I can.

Please, don't write me in a hurry as soon as CKEditor 4.5 is released, this is my warning that I expect things to break and I will try to put everything into working form again, but I think that it might take at least two weeks until I'm able to release a new version that works and maybe a whole month at least to keep on fixing all the breakage caused by the changes. I have a life and a full time job and even if I don't waste my time with Ingress, time passes flying by and I can't sit the whole day working on these plugins unless I'm on vacation.



Resizing images with SimpleUploads

One of the recent additions to the SimpleUploads plugin is the ability to process the images on the client before they are uploaded to the server.

At the moment I've added two options to allow automatic conversion of bmp images as well as rejecting images that are bigger than the defined dimensions, but it's easy to customize your page so that you can for example resize the images on the client and that way it will be much faster.

Of course this isn't a magical solution: the resizing is done using a canvas, so if any animated image will lose the animation, and I'm not sure about transparency in gif and pngs.

Anyway, I've created a Sizing demo showing the different options:

1) Don't restrict the uploads in anyway

2) Use only a server-side script. If you want to limit the size of images you should always use this kind of setup as a last option so that even if the image isn't resized on the client it's correctly processed and validated on the server.

3) Check the size and reject them

4) Reescale the image on the client, that way it's uploaded much faster.

I might add this option directly in the plugin, but for the momento I think that it's good to have the option to use your own code and that way you can tweak it to better fit your requirements.

The code itself is simple, this is it:

function scaleImage(ev)
 var data = ev.data,
  editor = ev.editor;

 var img = data.image;

 // maximum size allowed for images
 var maxX = 400;
 var maxY = 300;
 var imgX = img.width;
 var imgY = img.height;

 if (imgX == 0 || imgY == 0)
  alert("Ops, the image doesn't seem to be valid");

 // if it's smaller, get out
 if (imgX <= maxX && imgY <= maxY)

 var ratio = imgX / imgY;
 if ((maxX / maxY) > ratio)
  maxX = Math.round(maxY * (ratio));
  maxY = Math.round(maxX / (ratio));

 var canvas = document.createElement("canvas");
 canvas.width = maxX;
 canvas.height = maxY;

 var ctx = canvas.getContext('2d');
 ctx.drawImage(img, 0, 0, maxX, maxY);

 if ( /\.jpe?g$/.test(data.name))
  // You could adjust here the quality of jpg
  evData.file = canvas.toDataURL("image/jpeg", 0.9);
  data.file = canvas.toDataURL("image/png");

4 bis) Use a high quality resize as provided by the ImageCrop plugin that provides a dialog to allow the user to crop & resize the images before they are uploaded to the server. This plugin also allows to restrict the images to a maximum dimensions in case the user didn't select any sizing option in the dialog


How to launch the ImageMaps dialog with your own code

If you have some code outside of CKEditor that inserts an image into its content and then you want to automatically launch the ImageMaps dialog on that image, you can use simply this two lines of code:

First, select the image using the CKEditor API:


"editor" is a reference to the editor instance that contains the image, and "myImageID" is the id attribute assigned to that image.

It first gets a reference to the element with editor.document.getById and then tells the selection system to select that element.

Then launch the dialog:

It's just that simple, use the name registered for that dialog and tell editor that you want to open it :-)
I hope that this can be helpful for someone.