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Hidden gems of the Chrome DevTools, Part 2: CSS tools

In the last article on the series we looked into some features on the Chrome Console API. This time we'll see some of the tools Chrome has to offer when working with CSS and layouts.

Inspect layout

Chrome developer tools include handy tools for inspecting and debugging grid and flexbox layouts. When we open Chrome developer tools on the Elements tab, you'll find a Layout tab right next to Styles and Computed. Under Layout we will see a listing of all the grids and all the flexbox layouts on the current page.

Layout tools

Clicking on one of the will enable a visual inspector for that layout as a overlay on the page. Here, I've enabled the inspector for the grid on the root of my site

Grid inspect

By default the overlay displays line numbers, track sizes, and area names of the grid. The track size is displayed in the middle of the track (minmax(0px, 1fr) 378.33px), the line numbers are displayd at the left and top sides starting from 1. We can customize what is displayed, using the Overlay display settings.

Overlay display settings

Force element state

Under Elements -> Styles there's a cool feature which is easy to miss. While a DOM element is selected, you can force a state for it without actually triggering it. State here refers to interaction state such as, hover, focus, visited etc.

Force element state

This helpful for example when we're testing different styles for a button or a link.

Cycle color systems

When you're inspecting CSS for a element, the colors are displayed with the color system they we're defined with (hex, rgb, hsl). If you want to see how the color would be defined in another system, you can click the color indicator square while holding Ctrl+Cmd or Ctrl+Win to cycle through the different color systems.

Cycle through color systems

Further reading

Checkout the official Chrome developer tools documention for further reading
Inspecting CSS grids
CSS tools reference

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