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Sunday, November 02, 2003

The next browser feature I'm after

This won't appeal to the mass population but it'd make my life a lot easier. I spend a good chunk of my day pointing at one server doing development and testing. As it's a shared server, I can't make global changes to the configuration, and even application-level changes I need to justify to several people and then hope they agree. What I'm running into is my browser caching files and not getting the latest versions when I'm coding/debugging things. So I find myself clearing the cache manually 2-3 times a day just to make sure I'm getting the right stuff.

What am I proposing? Much like the "cookie whitelists" we see today in browsers such as Mozilla, Firebird and even IE, I would like to be able to configure my browser cache settings on a per-site basis. It would probably be buried under an "Advanced" tab in an Options dialog box or in a "developer's toolbar" much like the Web Developer toolbar for Firebird. In it would be a list to which you can add the domains where the browser should never look to local cache, but rather always retrive the page from the server.

Now, I could mitigate the need for this by setting up my server to send no-cache type directives in all HTTP headers, but as I said I don't run the server in all cases. I could also, in my ASP pages, set the headers for each page to do the same. I do have control over that. But I have lots of Javascript in external files which are linked in, and that technique can't be used there. Same for images. Putting the power in my browser lets me cover all my bases and not have to coordinate with anyone else.

Widespread use could cause bandwidth problems for users and site operators alike, to be sure, but in a development scenario that's not too much of an issue as compared to live sites. And there are lots of other browser features that could be abused as well.


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