Announcing new F12 dev tools features in August update

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Announcing new F12 dev tools features in August update

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Today we’re excited to share all the F12 features that shipped in the August update to IE11!

In April, we shipped a swath of new features of F12 Developer Tools in Internet Explorer 11 focusing on providing accurate data in the DOM Explorer, actionable data in the memory and performance tools and a smoother debugging experience with Just My Code.

With the IE Developer Channel in June we previewed more features in the F12 Developer Tools and now all of these features are shipping out to all of our customers. It’s a long list which you’ll find below or on MSDN but the highlights are:

  • Import and export sessions in the Memory and UI Responsiveness tools
  • Improved filtering capabilities in the Memory and UI Responsiveness tools
  • A color picker in the DOM Explorer that allows you to pick colors from any window on your desktop.

With this update to IE11 and F12, we’re keeping the pace of updating the F12 developer tools more often, getting you the latest features and bug fixes as soon as we can. Expect to see and hear from us more and if you’d like to provide feedback, or ask for new features and help simply reach out on Twitter @IEDevChat, or on Connect.

— Andy Sterland, Senior Program Manager, Internet Explorer


Changes to the F12 user interface

  • New icons and notifications

    The icons for the Memory and Profiler tools have changed.

    There are now indicators on the icon bar for errors in the Console, changes in Emulation settings, and for active profiling sessions in the Memory, Profiler, and UI Responsiveness tools. The image below shows the new icons with notifications on the Console and Memory tool icons, indicating there are two Console errors displaying and that a Memory profiling session is currently in progress.

    New icons for memory and profiler

  • F6 superset navigation within tools

    Using F6 is like using the tab key to navigate around a tool, but it "tabs" through a selected set of the most commonly used elements in a tool pane, rather than through every selectable item. This is part of an overall cleaner system for using the keyboard to navigate within and between tools.

  • Move back and forth between recently used tools using the keyboard

    Use CTRL + [ to move backwards in your tool navigation history, CTRL + ] to go forward, much like the back and forward arrows when you're browsing.

  • Quick access to document mode

    Want to access the Document mode without switching tools? We added a new dropdown at the top that gives you access to the document mode from any tool.

    Quick access to document mode

Console changes

  • console.timeStamp()

    When called from the Console or within code, it outputs to the Console the number of milliseconds the current browser tab has been open. If called while running a profiling session with the UI Responsiveness tool, it creates a user mark on the session's timeline with a timestamp based on the time since the session started.

  • CTRL+L clears the console of all messages

  • Accurate autocomplete

  • Console's autocomplete no longer includes indexer properties, making for a cleaner and more accurate selection of autocomplete suggestions.

    $, $$, $x, $0-$5, and $_ have been added to the Console autocomplete list for the convenience for those who use them and to make the Console's behavior more consistent with other browsers.

  • Stale message indicator

    If you have chosen to turn off the Clear on navigate option, older console messages have their icons greyed out to help distinguish between messages for the active page and messages from prior pages in your history.

    Stale message indicator

DOM Explorer changes

  • Change bars in Computed pane

    The change bars (different colors for changed properties, added properties, and deleted properties) users have been enjoying the Styles pane, now appear in the Computed styles pane.

    Change bars in Computed pane

  • Color Picker

  • Clicking on the color picker icon (or by using the keyboard shortcut ctrl+k) will open up a free standing version of the color picker with the expanded color wheel that’s useful for getting colors that are then going to be pasted elsewhere either in F12 or back in a text or image editor.

    Color picker

  • Color Wheel

    The color wheel is the 2nd icon on the color picker and when activated will expand to show the color wheel. The actual color wheel is a set of four sliders (as below) which can be used to change the HSL and transparency values for a color.

    Color wheel

  • Color Swatch

    The swatch on the color picker is a palette of all the colors F12 found in the CSS files associated with the page sorted by the number of occurrences. This should make finding common colors, such as accent colors, much easier. The swatch can be navigated with the left and right arrow keys which will scroll through all the colors.

  • Color Square

    Clicking on a color square brings up the color picker with the color wheel collapsed and can be used to set the color for the particular CSS property.

  • Eye Dropper

    The eye dropper can be used to pick a color under the cursor from any screen on the computer which is great for getting values from image editors or from other Web pages. There’s a limitation in the eye dropper where the color will be off by 1/255 of its real value. We’ll fix this in a future update.

Debugger changes

  • Sourcemaps designate

    Right-click on a document's tab in the Debugger and you can specify a source map. This makes it possible to use source maps with shipped code that has had the source map comment removed.

    Sourcemaps designate

  • Autocomplete in watches

    Now, when adding a watch, you get autocomplete options suggested.

    Autocomplete in watches

  • Return value inspection

    When breaking on a function with a return value, step into the function until you've stepped to the closing curly bracket. The return value will be displayed in the Locals portion of the Watches pane. Step again and the value will be returned to the code that called for it.

    For a quick demonstration, try this code in the Console:

    function showval() { var x = 0; x++; debugger; return x; } showval(); 

    It will call the function, break on debugger, and you can step into it to see the return value.

  • Multi-select for breakpoints

    CTRL + CLICK, SHIFT + CLICK, and CTRL + A work to select multiple breakpoints in the Breakpoints pane.

  • Continue and ignore breaks

    Press F5 to continue to the next break. Hold F5 to continue past multiple breaks until you release F5.

  • Event breakpoints and tracepoints

    These work much like the breakpoints and tracepoints already present in F12 tools, but instead of being triggered when a specific block of code is executed, they are triggered when a specific event fires. Each has an optional conditional filter to help you narrow down their scope to the specific instance of an event that you want to inspect. They can be added using the Add event tracepoint and Add event breakpoint icons highlighted in the image below.

    Event breakpoints and tracepoints

  • Async call stack code

    You can now see the call stack for those pesky async calls!

    Async call stack code

UI Responsiveness tool changes

  • Import/export performance sessions

    You shouldn't have to reproduce your test case every time you want to analyze data it produces or share that data with a colleague. The import (folder) and export (disk) icons on the UI Responsiveness tool's icon bar let you save your memory snapshots to a file that can be imported later.

  • Image preview

    If you've seen an HTTP request for an image and wondered which image it was, the image is now previewed in the event details.

    Image preview

  • Filtering events

    The Filter events button is small but mighty. Hidden behind that button is a menu that lets you filter events in multiple ways and each way has a significant impact.

    Event name filter

    Filter for any event name containing a match for the filter text.

    UI activity filter

    Using the checkboxes, you can exclude larger categories of events to make it easier to focus on the area you're investigating. For example, if you're just interested in network activity, you can filter out all the noise of the UI and garbage collection.

    Time threshold filter

    This feature filters out top-level events less than 1ms in duration. In many scenarios, this dramatically simplifies the waterfall view and helps you focus on more impactful events.

    Time threshold filter

  • HTML5 scripting events

    If you use media query listeners or MutationObservers, you can now identify their respective costs when running a performance profiling session.

    HTML5 scripting events

  • Frame grouping

    The button between the Sort by dropdown and the Filter events menu toggles Frame grouping. This groups top-level events into their corresponding unit of work (or "frame") during periods of time where animations/visual updates were occurring. The frames are treated like other events, so they can be sorted and filtered, and they provide an Inclusive time summary.

    Frame grouping

  • User measures

    If you use the performance.mark() API to add triangles to the timeline, indicating where specific events happened, the performance.measure() API extends the usefulness of performance marks. Use the performance.measure() to create a User measure event encompassing the time between two performance.mark() events, right click the event, and use the Filter to event option to select just the events between the two marks.

    User measures

  • Colorization for DOM

    This feature adds colorization to DOM elements, string literals and number literals. Besides making the content within the different F12 tools look and behave more alike, it adds a little more visual interest to the UI Responsiveness tool.

  • Selection summary

    When you select a portion of the timeline, the event details pane will show a summary of the selection. Hover over different segments of the circular chart for a tooltip with the segment's event category.

    Selection summary

  • Support for console.timeStamp()

    Using the console.timeStamp() method in your code or in the console during a profiling session creates a user mark on the timeline with the time since the profiling session began.

Memory tool changes

  • Dominator folding

    Dominator folding helps simplify the contents of a snapshot by removing objects from the top-level views that are logically components of another object (e.g. a <BR> within a <DIV>, a Scope held on to by a Function) and tend to be extra details that don’t improve your insight into the data, but could waste your time.

    For example, the image below shows before and after views, demonstrating how dominator folding improves the "story" the tool is telling. The folded view shows 30 HTML <DIV> elements, which account for 15.64 MB of memory, and are holding on to detached DOM nodes. In many cases, it isn’t important to know the composition of an object, so much as simply knowing that it is too large, or that it is leaking (especially when using third-party libraries).

    Dominator folding

  • Colorization of DOM, String & Number literals

    This feature adds colorization to DOM elements, string literals, and number literals. Besides making the content within the different F12 tools look and behave more alike, it makes memory analysis a little more visually interesting.

  • Roots cycle filtering

    Want to be able to investigate the composition of an object without getting unknowingly lost in a circular reference path? This feature detects child references which are circular and “trims” them, so that you don’t get confused by traversing them into infinity. Additionally, it annotates these references so that it’s clear when a reference has in fact been "trimmed."

  • Import/export session

    You shouldn't have to reproduce your test case every time you want to analyze data it produces or share that data with a colleague. The import (folder) and export (disk) icons on the Memory tool's icon bar let you save your memory snapshots to a file that can be imported later.

    Import/export session

Emulation tool changes

  • Settings persistence and reset

    A Persist Emulation settings icon is added to the Emulation tool. This will maintain your current emulation settings until specifically disabled, allowing you to work, close the browser, and come back with your emulation settings intact. To its right is a Reset Emulation settings icon, which quickly resets the tool back to default values.

    Emulation settings persistence and reset

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