When I first stumbled across Blisk I thought “Why do these developers insist on building new browsers rather than make Chrome extensions?!”.
What is Blisk?
After trying this Chromium-based, development-focused browser I can see why they couldn’t just add their features to Chrome. The interface is completely different, starting with the split mobile/desktop view. The developers have also added synchronized scrolling and an auto-watch feature. A quick look at the setup system shows screenshots, analytics, and bug reporting integrations all coming soon.
Okay, so I’ve mentioned all the features, but what do they do?
Split screen is a lot like Chrome’s standard ‘device emulation’. It lets you see your site in a mobile device alongside the desktop view. This means you can cut down the amount of time you spend swapping between different view sizes while developing interfaces.
This feature goes hand in hand with the split screen feature. It allows you to navigate and scroll on the one device, and have the other device match the behaviour. In my opinion, these two features should be permanently linked.
Now this is a great feature that already exists in some development tools. Hugo, Jekyll, Grunt, Gulp and many others already have the ability to process your files whenever they detect a change. Having that functionality on your browser is just a logical extension of this.
Here’s the scenario. First of all, you have Sublime open on one screen with Blisk open on another. You make a change to the LESS you’re using for that static site. Because you have Grunt set to watch the LESS folder, it compiles the LESS into CSS, saving it to the static folder of your Hugo site’s structure. Since Hugo is set to watch the change is processed, and your site is rebuilt. Finally, Blisk refreshes to display all the changes. And all you did was save the file you were modifying.
I can set up other tools and programs to cover off these other features. Adobe’s Edge Inspector allows me to synchronize my phone and desktop views, additionally, letting me use multiple devices at once. There are extensions for Chrome let me set up watch lists to refresh as files change, capture and annotate screenshots, and streamline the submission of bugs to various issue trackers.
Blisk, however makes this all simple. It’s ready to go out of the box, and it’s easy to use. But there is one fatal flaw that has stopped me using Blisk on my current project. The thing I need most of all is missing. There is no way that I can find to specify custom devices in the emulator. So while I am building a web app that absolutely has to run on a tablet with a 1024×600 resolution with a 1:1 pixel ratio, I can’t use Blisk to test it, because I can’t add these specifications to Blisk’s emulator list.
Additionally, I think it be nice if Blisk lets us decide where the device view sits on the screen. In the screenshots above, it is on the left, and I can’t change that. I wish I could stack the phone view above the desktop view, as that better suits my vertical monitor setup.
All in all, Blisk is a great tool, with a lot of promise. It just needs a little more work before I can use it.