April 13, 2012

Make devel less obtrusive with Devel Catcher

Devel is a module I can't live without these days. In my opinion, it's an invaluable part of building an maintaining Drupal sites. It makes it incredibly easy to peek inside data structures, inspect nodes and gather performance information, such as slow queries. My main problem with devel, however, is that it simply dumps its information on the bottom of a page. To improve the usability of devel, we here at Fuse Interactive, came up with the idea of Devel Catcher.

At the heart of the module, we're taking Devel's output and improving on the interface. Devel Catcher adds a bar to the bottom of the page, reminiscent of the Drupal admin menu, with some pertinent devel information - query counts, execution time and memory usage. You can also click the cog next to the information to slide out a drawer with the query log stashed away (should you have it enabled).

At this point it's best to point out that Devel Catcher is somewhat of a proof of concept. We're still fleshing it out in terms of functionality and squishing bugs, as well as making it configurable and improving performance. At the moment Devel Catcher also gives you a couple of extra pieces of information, should certain requirements be met, such as a Context inspector and a node access table (part of devel).

On the roadmap, we're looking to make Devel Catcher as important for site builders as devel itself. There's a lot of functionality we're aiming to deliver such as quickly filtering the query log and more information pertinent to site building and debugging.

If you have any suggestions for information you'd like to see pulled in to Devel Catcher to make developing, debugging, didgeridooing and maintaining a Drupal site, feel free to open a feature request issue, as we'd love to hear from the community.