Insist on Using about:inspect to Debug Node.js? It Just Got an Upgrade!

Insist on Using about:inspect to Debug Node.js? It Just Got an Upgrade!
Photo by Chris Hahn / Unsplash

Insist on Using about:inspect to Debug Node.js? It Just Got an Upgrade!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, debugging with NiM, is superior to `about:inspect` and the newest feature of NiM makes this point even more compelling. With NiM you can now use the browser address bar (omnibox) to quickly add a host debugger listener. With just a few keystrokes, you can quickly update your debugger settings and have DevTools open automatically for any of them. Just like this...

NiM GitHub release v3.7.2 - Chrome Web Store and Edge Add-Ons not live yet as of 6/19/2024

about_ NOT about://inspect

The about:inspect DEEP dive...

The about:inspect method is more likely the workflow you're familiar with because it's been plastered all over the internet while NiM (which was once even more popular before being unjustly sidelined... or put another way, good enough for a time by the popular kids before they decided to bury and ignore it like an illegitamit bastard child) the original "UX sugar" and arguably best workflow tool, should be your go-to. But... let's talk about the hard road...

about:inspect discover network targets

Compared to debugging more complex workflows, the about:inspect method is less aweful. That is, when you're sticking to all the defaults in terms of debugging Node.js or other V8 apps (like Deno), i.e. using the default Node.js debugging socket localhost:9229. While about:inspect might handle this setup by default, it becomes cumbersome for anything more complex. You'll need to delve into the browser UI, click a checkbox, open another window/menu, enter "Target discover settings" (IP addresses and ports), and then click done. If you need to add another socket, you'll repeat this cycle (minus the checkbox, maybe) over and over.

Yes, yes, I know... or you could also click that other link "Open dedicated DevTools for Node.

about:inspect Open dedicated DevTools for Node

Alas, that doesn't really get you any further... just ANOTHER extraneous configuration window staring at you.

The SWEET Approach - NiM's about<space> Candy

Well I've sorta already SHOWED you that in the GIF above. But here it is again and I'll even write out the steps...

about_ NOT about://inspect

Basically, it goes like this:

  1. type: about<space>[paste your debugger host details]<enter or click>
  2. 🔥

How NiM Achieves Superior Debugging Convenience

NiM leverages the omnibox browser extension API to deliver unparalleled convenience in debugging. By feeding the debugger socket directly into NiM, the extension automatically recognizes and manages the connection. Here's how it works:

1. Automatic Detection and Configuration: When you enter the debugger socket in the omnibox, NiM intelligently updates its settings. This includes updating the host and port information and switching to auto mode.
2. Seamless DevTools Management: In auto mode, NiM takes over the management of Chrome DevTools. It automatically opens and closes the tools based on the state of the Node/V8 debugger socket, ensuring you always have the debugging tools you need without manual intervention.
3. Real-Time Notifications: NiM keeps you informed about the debugging process through real-time notifications. These are recorded in NiM's notification area and displayed as a scrolling badge message on the extension's popup icon. This way, you're always aware of the status of your debugger.
4. User-Friendly Interface: When you open the NiM extension popup, you can see the updated host and port details. This clear and concise interface makes it easy to verify that everything is set up correctly.

By streamlining these processes, NiM provides a more efficient and user-friendly debugging experience. The ease of use and automation offered by NiM make it an invaluable tool for developers, saving time and reducing the complexity of debugging Node.js and V8 applications.

But Wait There's More...

1. Simplified Workflow
With NiM, you can manage multiple debugging sessions seamlessly. There's no need to constantly reconfigure settings or navigate through convoluted menus. Everything is just a few keystrokes away.

2. Automatic DevTools Opening
NiM automatically opens Chrome DevTools for your Node.js application, saving you the hassle of manually connecting every time you want to debug. This feature alone can save you valuable development time and reduce context switching.

3. Customizable and Extensible
NiM offers customization options that about:inspect simply can't match. You can tailor your debugging setup to suit your specific needs, whether you're working on a small project or a large-scale application.

4. Cross-Browser Compatibility
NiM isn't just limited to Chrome. It's also available on Microsoft Edge, making it a versatile tool for developers who work across different browsers.

5. Community and Support
NiM has a dedicated community and active support channels. If you run into issues or need assistance, there's a wealth of resources and knowledgeable users who can help you out.

6. Regular Updates and Improvements
NiM is continually updated with new features and improvements, ensuring that you always have access to the latest and greatest tools for debugging your Node.js applications.

Use it now!

Spread the word and make debugging easier for everyone. Cheers!

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