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Jolt Awards: The Best Programming Utilities

, July 29, 2013 The top utilities that solve annoying development problems.
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Finalist: Fiddler

Fiddler is an unexpected surprise: like a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia with a Turbo 327 under the hood. It shows you everything that is going on behind your browser, mobile device, or Web-aware application. Fiddler monitors traffic to and from browsers (IE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera); .NET, Java, PHP, and WinHTTP apps; and mobile devices (Android, IOS, WinPhone 7, and PocketPC).

Installation is drop-dead simple. Start your browser, start Fiddler, and HTTP/HTTPs traffic capture begins. Fortunately, the request/response traffic is filterable so you can zero in on traffic from specific sessions. A very useful display is the Timeline, showing the sequencing and absolute time-frame of each message. Need to send a custom request to the server? You can use the Composer to build the request string manually in Raw mode or get simple assists in Parsed mode. Need to modify traffic? Fiddlerscript is a simple language that lets you define rules for tweaking requests and responses. .NET developers have the capability to capture Web traffic (including AJAX requests) for playback with the Visual Studio Web Test product.

I am amazed at what Fiddler provides functionally. My only stumbling point was getting the detailed help that I needed to understand how to exploit its power. The website Help is adequate, but is best for configuring Fiddler for different browsers. Apparently, a book on Fiddler is in the works.

Fiddler was acquired late last year by Telerik, the UI Framework company, so Fiddler has substantial resources behind it. The company has committed to keeping Fiddler as a free product — which only enhances the utility's attraction.

— Gary Evans






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