Xyle scope - A tool to 'look behind' web pages

May 23, '05 07:18:00PM

Contributed by: robg

Xyle scope icon The macosxhints Rating:
8 of 10
[Score: 8 out of 10]

Xyle scope is one of those applications that's tough to categorize, but immediately useful if you match its target audience. For Xyle scope, that audience is anyone involved in building or maintaining web sites, or even those just curious about how sites are put together. Probably the best description comes directly from their site:
Xylescope has been designed and developed for looking underneath the surface of web pages as you surf the web ... Using Xylescope you can look forward to analysing complex CSS designs with incredible ease and experimenting with third-party sites, without having to download them onto your own computer first.
Using a resizable multi-paned window, you can view all of: any given web site (using WebKit, I believe), a hierarchical view of the CSS/HTML tags used on that page, the source code (in a number of different styles -- or add your own CSS for displaying the source), and the page's style sheet. Xyle scope's browser works in a "normal" mode, or (the really useful bit) in block mode. In block mode, you click on an element in a page, and the remainder of Xyle scope's panels change to show the relevant CSS and HTML. Want to see what a change will do? Just go ahead and make the change in the CSS area and hit return; you'll see it reflected in the browser pane immediately.

To get the most out of Xyle scope, a big monitor is a definite plus -- displaying a full-width browser window plus the associated info panes takes a lot of horizontal pixels. And since Xyle scope is doing a lot of analysis and formatting when you load a page, it can be somewhat slow. But it's the first tool of it's type that I can recall seeing. You can do similar things, of course, by downloading an entire site to your hard drive and then opening it in GoLive or DreamWeaver. But Xyle scope works with the pages as they exist on the server. I've only been using it for a few days, but I've already decided to send in my registration fee -- it's saved me some time on changes on my blog site, and I'm using it to increase my CSS knowledge by studying the CSS behind things I find interesting.

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