Code Renaissance is about building great teams and great software. By exploring best practices, team interactions, design, testing and related skills Code Renaissance strives to help you create the team and codebase that you've always wanted.

You're gonna love working with "Charles"

Charles isn't a person, it's software and once you get past the goofy name I'm sure you'll like Charles as much as I do.

  • Works on:
    • Windows
    • Mac
    • Linux
  • With:
    • Internet Explorer
    • Firefox
    • Safari

Charles inserts itself between your browser and the internet. It's able to provide:

  • Bandwidth throttling - see how your website will behave at any connection speed slower than your own.
  • HTTP Monitoring -monitor data passing between your browser and the Internet.
  • AJAX debugging - monitor Asynchronous requests and responses in XML, JSON, JSON-RPC, and SOAP formats in a simplified tree view.
  • DNS redirection - redirect calls to a website to point elsewhere.
  • Browser cache disabling.
  • Cookie disabling.

I've been using Charles for a few weeks now and found it very useful. First I throttled down the connection to 56K and noticed that some images which were applied to tabs through CSS would take a moment to render when changing tabs(clicking changed the CSS class). It was clear that the image wasn't being cached. Checking Charles showed that the http header didn't contain an expires date so I set a far future expires date in IIS which caused IE6 to start caching the image.

I monitored the sites Ajax communications with Charles which showed that IE6 was caching my AJAX responses. A quick Google search showed that putting a date-time stamp in a query-string parameter would make the URL unique and keep this from happing. Charles confirmed the fix.

As a test I used the DNS redirection feature to set it up so that when I went to www.[ my website name].com the browser would think it was there but Charles redirected the browser to localhost. This could be useful if you were working on a site that had URLs hard-coded to the Domain or calls to Web-services that you wanted redirected elsewhere.

I also disabled cashing and throttle my bandwidth to view how the site would load on a slow computer for the first time.

I'm sure I've got a lot more to discover about Charles, but so far it is a solid, very useful piece of software. The bad news is that it's not free, but the good news is its affordable 50 dollars for a single user license, and only 400 dollars for a corporate (single site) license. In corporate terms that's a steal. I definitely recommend that you try it free for 30 days; the benefits should make it an easy sell to your boss.

0 - What do you think?: