Meet the Dust-Me Selectors Developer

brothercake

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Why was Dust-Me Selectors created?

Anyone's who's worked on a very large site may have faced a similar problem -- you're overhauling part of the site and writing new CSS, but you're not sure how much of the existing CSS is still required elsewhere, and how much is now redundant. Do you delete those old rules and take the risk that something, somewhere will break? Or do you just leave it alone, and end up with hundreds of lines of legacy code of which only 10% is actually needed -- if only you knew which 10%!

So I designed Dust-Me Selectors to solve this problem. It was originally a Greasemonkey extension, that would run in the background as I worked, scanning every page that the browser viewed within the company's site, and checking all the new and existing stylesheets against each page. Eventually, once the re-development was finished and I'd visited every page, I had built-up a profile of selectors that were not being used anywhere -- and that meant I could delete them.

It didn't take long to realize how useful this could be for others, though it would take several months of further development before it was ready to be released. Developing a stand-alone extension meant it could have a richer UI, and adding new features like the Spider made it more flexible to different kinds of work-flow.

What's next for Dust-Me Selectors

It's been a sketchy year for Dust-Me Selectors, as the company who used to support its development no longer does so, and for a while it wasn't clear whether I'd have the time and resources to maintain it. Snatching development days wherever I could find them, Version 3 was eventually finished, as I realised that I owed it to the community to keep the project alive -- especially since there really isn't anything else quite like it.

So now that Dust-Me is back, it's back with a vengeance! Version 4 is already in development, and new features will include:

* Support for Sitemap XML files
* Expanded data export options, including "Save as JSON"
* New data import options, including "Load from JSON"
* Support for scanning CSS inside <style> elements
* A new preference option "Treat all sub-domains as the same site", so that data which is currently stored separately for each sub-domain, can be merged together
* Some new documentation, with details of what all the preferences do, and a guide to getting the best from Dust-Me
* Nicer dialog icons for the Windows 7 Taskbar

I'm also investigating the possibility of being able to scan for different kind of data, or grouping and analysing rules in different ways. For example, identifying class names and attributes that are used by CSS, and those which are not. Perhaps the extension could identify rules which are not used by any media, or media which are not addressed by any rules. Or identify how images are used, whether by CSS, or markup, or not at all.

Quite a few possibilities suggest themselves, so I'll be guided by feedback on which of them would be useful. And of course, if you have any other suggestions or ideas for new features or improvements, please do let me know :-)

About the Developer

Developer Information
Name brothercake
Location UK
Occupation Web Developer
Homepage http://www.brothercake.com/
User since July 24, 2007
Number of add-ons developed 1 add-on
Average rating of developer's add-ons Rated 4 out of 5 stars

Who is brothercake?

James Edwards [brothercake] is a freelance web-developer based in the UK, specialising in JavaScript application development and building accessible websites. With more than a decade's professional experience, he is a published author, a frequent blogger and speaker, and an outspoken advocate of standards-based development.