Rob Campbell: Debugging and Testing the Web with Firebug

MAY 08, 2009
The sixth Web Exponents tech talk features Rob Campbell's presentation on Firebug. Rob works at Mozilla. He's one of the developers that Mozilla dedicated to the Firebug effort last July. Rob is one of the main drivers of the Firebug project, starting and heading up the weekly concalls, and closely tracking bugs and releases. As one of the founders of the Firebug Working Group, I'm excited to see Mozilla taking a more active role in Firebug. The benefits are clear as we see more features and greater stability with each Firebug release. Here's the video of Rob's presentation as well as a link to his slides.

Rob starts by highlighting what's new in Firebug 1.4 alpha. It's a joy for me to see that activation (enabling and disabling) has been simplified. Rob points out that the firebug icon serves also as a menu. One of the menu items is "Open With Editor", which developers will find useful for saving changes to their pages. A much needed UI change is flipping the tabs and buttons. The tabs used to be below the buttons. Putting them at the top is closer to what users expect from working with other tabbed UIs.

The new "pause" button will be useful for anyone debugging JavaScript. This implements "break on next" functionality, making it easier to stop when event handlers are called. Firebug's Net Panel has had significant improvements. The UI is better (colors!), but there's even more. The underlying timing information has been improved to give more accurate results. There are also markers for DOMContentLoaded and OnLoad, to show where those fire in relation to network requests.

Firebug Extensions provide a way for developers to add functionality that can be shared with others. Rob mentions several extensions including:Writing an extension is a great way to explore future directions for Firebug.

Rob talks about future roadmap. Firebug 1.5 will focus on extensions - making them easier to build and use. Firebug 1.6 will change the underlying JavaScript debugging mechanism in Firefox to support new features. Add Rob's blog to your RSS reader to find out about these future releases and other improvements to Firebug.

By Steve Souders, Performance Evangelist