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Vorlon.js Released, Aims to Help Developers Remotely Test and Debug JavaScript Code

| by James Chesters Follow 2 Followers on May 07, 2015. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Microsoft has released Vorlon.js, a remote debugging tool for JavaScript.

Announcing the tool in a MSDN blog post, creator David Catuhe described Vorlon.js as "a small web server you can run from your local machine, or install on a server for your team to access, that serves the Vorlon.js dashboard and communicates with the remote devices."

Named after an ancient alien race in the TV show Babylon 5, Vorlon.js is platform agnostic and powered by Node.js and Socket.IO.

Catuhe elaborated on the motivation behind Microsoft's debugger, saying Vorlon.js can help developers to "remotely load, inspect, test and debug JavaScript code running on any device with a web browser." He said:

Whether it is a game console, mobile device, or even an IoT- connected refrigerator, you can remotely connect up to 50 devices and execute JavaScript in each or all of them. The idea here is that dev teams can also debug together – each person can write code and the results are visible to all.

On Hacker News and Reddit comparisons are drawn between Vorlon.js and Apache's Weinre.

Catuhe says Weinre is a "great tool", but that the team "wanted to provide a similar experience without the strong link to a specific browser vendor (like Chrome for Weinre). We wanted to provide a browser agnostic experience that could work anywhere."

Vorlon.js comes with three core plugins: Console, DOM Inspector, and Modernizr. Console streams console messages from the client to the dashboard that can be used for debugging. Anything logged with console.log(), console.warn() or console.error() appears in the dashboard.

The DOM explorer plugin shows user the dom of the remote webpage, letting them inspect the DOM, with nodes highlighted in the host webpage when clicked, and allowing users to view and modify the CSS properties. The Modernizr plugin shows users the supported browser features as reported by the Modernizr JavaScript library to determine what features are available, that Catuhe says could be particularly useful on "unusual mobile devices, or things like games consoles."

Designed so that developers can extend the dashboard and client application, Vorlon.js lets users write and install additional plugins. The community has started creating plugins for the tool, with the first, Object Explorer, allowing users to browse all Javascript variable on their device. Catuhe says the team are also working on a webaudio plugin.

Catuhe says Vorlon.js was named after the Babylon 5 characters because, in the series, "Vorlons are one of the wisest and ancient race of the universe and thus, they are helpful as diplomats between younger races. Their helpfulness is what inspired us." This view of the Vorlon as diplomats has also been challenged online by others who follow the series, but Catuhe says he interprets the race as helping young races to grow and take the control of the universe -- an interpretation he also applies loosely to the goal of the debugging tool as helping web devs.

Vorlon.JS is released under the MIT license. InfoQ readers interested in contributing to Vorlon.js should see CONTRIBUTING.md for more info.

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