Firebug and Firefox

One of my tasks this summer is to investigate the inclusion of Firebug in some distribution of Firefox. I’ve been playing with Firebug, submitting some patches to Joe, and trying to get a good feel for the codebase there. I have to say that it is a bit rough (and could really use some documentation), but I’m getting there. If I have time available, I’ll document things a bit better too.

The whole point of this is to present three questions to the community that I’d like to get input on. Leaving a comment is the best way to answer these questions:

  1. What does the DOM Inspector do that Firebug doesn’t?
  2. What does Venkman do that Firebug doesn’t?
  3. How would Firebug being included in some distribution of Firefox affect web developers?

I’m looking for answers to these questions with the perspective of a web developer. That is to say that I’m not concerned (at least for now) that Firebug doesn’t inspect chrome, so features specific to that should try to be avoided.

By Shawn Wilsher

The man behind the site.

9 replies on “Firebug and Firefox”

Although I love Firebug, I don’t know that it’s terribly important to have it included in a distribution. Those who would use Firebug are likely to have a number of addons they install anyway, so this saves just one install. It’d probably be more of a pain to get and update the special distribution than simply to install Firebug as an extension in the first place.

The main advantage of DOMi is probably that it can be used for extension development too, since you can point it at chrome documents, and it understands anonymous content (from XBL).

With the DOM inspector you can view all the styles applied to an element, including the browser default styles (like resource://gre/res/forms.css), thanks to this information the computed style is more understandable than in Firebug.

i also love firebug but my biggest concern is it consumes (and perhaps leaks) massive amounts of memory. i’d always thought that firefox “just uses lots of memory” until i disabled the firebug extension.

until this has been resolved it isn’t suitable for inclusion.

Venkman allows us to debug code that has been eval’d (using the pretty print mode). This is a crucial feature for larger applications. Firebug just gets confused.

Firebug is also very slow at debugging large javascript files since the code it uses for displaying the formatted js is very inefficient.

Due to not using native widgets, Firebug isn’t very keyboard friendly, either. Just try navigating a DOM tree without a mouse (you can’t even tab to it). As a consequence, it somehow doesn’t feel right.

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