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RABiD BUNNY FEVER
K.T.K

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Debugging AJAX in Chrome

It has always really bugged me that in Chrome, when you want to view the response and form data for an AJAX request listed in the console, you have to go through multiple annoying clicks to view these two pieces of data, which are also on separate tabs. There is a great Chrome extension though called AJAX-Debugger that gets you all the info you need on the console. However, it also suffered from the having-to-click-through problem for the request data (5th object deep in an object nest), and it did not support JSONP. I’ve gone ahead and fixed these 2 problems :-).


Now to get around to making the other Chrome plugin I’ve been needing for a while ... (Automatic devtool window focus when focusing its parent window)


[Edit on 2015-08-20 @ 8:10am] I added another patch to the Chrome extension to atomically run the group calls (otherwise, they sometimes showed out of order).

Also, the auto focusing thing is not possible as a pure extension due to chrome API inadequacies. While it would be simple to implement using an interval poll via something like Auto Hot Key, I really hate [the hack of] making things constantly poll to watch for something. I’m thinking of a hybrid chrome extension+AHK script as a solution.

HTML5 Video in Chrome for Android
It never ends when programming for browsers

Due to the facts of life and economic demand, a majority of the work I’ve been doing over the past 10 years has been web work (PHP, JavaScript, SQL, HTML, CSS). When I first started in this field, browser incompatibilities were a MAJOR problem, but nowadays, it’s incredibly rare for me to write a piece of code in one browser that doesn’t automatically work in all the others without bugs. Maybe it’s just the fact I’ve been doing this for so long that I know what to avoid, but I’d like to think it’s mostly because the browser makers have gotten their acts together and subscribe to making everything compatible by following [W3C] guidelines.

Browser incompatibilities still creep up from time to time though, and I’ll be writing up about a few of them in some of my upcoming posts. The majority and biggest problems I seem to run into nowadays revolve around mobiles.


So in Google Chrome for Android, when trying to include an HTML5 video, the “autoplay” HTML5 attribute seems to be ignored. The obvious less-than-optimal hack would be to just include a “.play()” call in JavaScript, but this seems to only work if the action is triggered by the user (like when trying to create a popup window). So as far as I can see right now, there is no way to autoplay a video in Google Chrome for Android.

Chrome no longer doing separate processes
Google broke Chrome :-(

There were at least 3 really neat things about Google Chrome when it made its spectacular entrance onto the web browser market a few months ago that made it a really viable option compared to its competitors. These features were [“are”, going to write it in present tense as they are still true]:

  1. It is fast, especially with JavaScript.
    • I have done speed tests on the JavaScript engines between browsers (which unfortunately I can’t post), and function calls, especially recursion, in the JavaScript engine in Chrome are incredibly faster when compared to the other Web Browsers.
    • However, SpiderMonkey, the new JavaScript engine being used in Firefox, seriously kicks all the other browsers in the butt in speed optimizations when it comes to loop iterations and some other areas. SpiderMonkey is available in the newest non-stable builds of Firefox (v3.1), but is not turned on by default.
  2. Different tabs run in different processes; which was very heavily advertised during Chrome’s launch. This carries with it two great advantages.
    1. A locked or crashed tab/window (usually through JavaScript) won’t affect the other tabs/windows.
    2. Since each tab is in a separate OS process, meaning they are also being run on separate OS threads, they can be run on separate logical operating cores (CPUs). This means that browser tabs can be run in parallel and not slow each other down (depending on the number of logical CPUs you have).

    Unfortunately, this is not as completely true as is widely advertised. New processes are only opened when the user manually opens a new window or tab. If a new window or tab is opened by JavaScript or by clicking a link, it still runs in the same process!

    Google has a FAQ Entry on this as follows:

    16. How can my web page open a new tab in a separate process?

    Google Chrome has a multi-process architecture, meaning tabs can run in separate processes from each other, and from the main browser process. New tabs spawned from a web page, however, are usually opened in the same process, so that the original page can access the new tab using JavaScript.

    If you’d like a new tab to open in a separate process:

    • Open the new tab with about:blank as its target.
    • Set the newly opened tab’s opener variable to null, so that it can’t access the original page.
    • Redirect from about:blank to any URL on a different domain, port, or protocol than that of the page spawning the pop-up. For example, if the page spawning the pop-up is on http://www.example.com/:
      • a different domain would be http://www.example.org
      • a different port would be http://www.example.com:8080
      • a different protocol would be https://www.example.com

    Google Chrome will recognize these actions as a hint that the new and old pages should be isolated from each other, and will attempt to load the new page in a separate process.

    The following code snippet can be used to accomplish all of these steps:

    var w = window.open();
    w.opener = null;
    w.document.location = "http://different.example.com/index.html";
    			

    The only problem is... THIS NO LONGER WORKS! Google recently (within the last 7 days) broke this FAQ recommendation with an automatic update to Chrome, so new tabs that are not manually opened by the user cannot be forced to new processes even with their little code snippet. Personally, I think this behavior is really lame and every tab should be able to open in separate processes every time no matter what, and still be able to talk to each other through process message passing. It may slow things down a little, but it’s a much more powerful model, IMO. An option for this in the window.open’s options parameter would be really nice...

  3. And of course, it’s Google, who, in general, “does no evil”. :-)
    • I can’t find the original article I was looking for on this “don’t do evil” topic :’( ... it basically said something to the extent that the “don’t be evil” motto only applies to business inside the USA, or something like that.
    • I have been a long time fan of Google though, and I still think that pretty much everything they’ve done, in general, has been for the good of everyone. There are always going to be blemishes on a company that size, and for how big they are and all they do, they’ve done a pretty damn good job, IMO. Just my two cents.
Google Chrome - Bug?
And other browser layout bugs

To start off, sorry I haven’t been posting much the last couple of months. First, I got kind of burnt out from all the posting in August. More recently however, I’ve been looking for a J-O-B which has been taking a lot of my time. Now that I’ve found some work, I’m more in the mood to post again, yay. Hopefully, this coming month will be a bit more productive in the web site :-). Now on to the content.


Browser rendering [and other] bugs have been a bane of the web industry for years, particularly in the old days when IE was especially non-standards-compliant, so people had to add hacks to their pages to make them display properly. IE has gotten much better since then, but there are still lots of bugs in it, especially because Microsoft wants to not break old web sites that had to add hacks to make them work in the outdated versions of IE. Other modern browsers still have rendering problems too [see the acid tests], but again, these days it’s not so bad.


I just ran into one of these problems in a very unexpected place: Google Chrome. I kind of ignored the browser’s launch, as I’m mostly happy with Firefox (there’s a few major bugs that have popped up in Firefox 3.0 that are a super annoyance, but I try to ignore them), but needed to install Chrome recently. When I went to my web page in it, I noticed a major glitch in the primary layout, so I immediately researched it.


What it currently looks like
Rendered in Firefox v3.0.3
Chrome Error - What I wanted it to look like
What it looks like in Chrome v0.2.149.30
Which is apparently correct according to the CSS guidelines
Chrome Error - What it looks like in Chrome

So I researched what was causing the layout glitch, assuming it was my code, and discovered it is actually a rendering bug in Firefox and IE, not Chrome (I think)! Basically, DIV’s with top margins transfer their margins to their parent DIVs, as is explained here:

Note that adjoining vertical margins are collapsed to use the maximum of the margin values. Horizontal margins are not collapsed.
The text there isn’t exactly clear cut, but it seems to support my suggestion that Chrome has it right. Here is an example, which renders properly in Chrome, but not IE and Firefox.

<div style="background-color:blue;width:100px;height:100px;">
    <div style="margin-top:25px;width:25px;height:25px;background-color:green;">
</div>
 

In the above example, the green box’s top should be directly against the blue box, and the blue box inherits the margin and is pushed away from the top of the red box.


Honestly, I think this little margin-top caveat is quite silly and doesn’t make sense. Why collapse the margins when it would make more sense to just use the box model so the child has a margin against its parent. Go figure.

So to fix the problem, I ended up using “padding-top” on the parent instead of “margin-top” on the child. Blargh.



This isn’t the first bug I’ve discovered in Firefox either (which I usually submit to Firefox’s bugzilla).

At least one of the worst ones bugs I’ve submitted (which had already been submitted in the past, I found out) has been fixed. “Address bar should show path/query %-unescaped so non-ASCII URLs are readable” was a major internationalization problem, which I believe was a deal breaker for Firefox for anyone using any language that isn’t English. Basically any non-ASCII character in the address bar was escaped with %HEXVALUE instead of showing the actual character. Before Firefox got out an official bug fix, I had been fixing this with a nifty Firefox add-on, Locationbar2, which I still use as it has a lot of other nifty options.

One bug that has not yet been fixed that I submitted almost 2 years ago (it has been around for almost 4 years) is “overflow:auto gets scrollbar on focused link outline ”. I wrote up the following document on this when I submitted it to Mozilla:


I put this in an IFRAME because for some reason the bug didn’t show up when I inlined this HTML, go figure. The font size on the anchor link also seems to matter now... I do not recall it mattering before.

At least Firefox (and Chrome) are still way WAY more on the ball than IE.


Edit on 2009-7-26: The margin-top bug has been fixed on Firefox (not sure which version it happened on, but I’m running version 3.0.12 currently).