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Firebug is simply brilliant

Software comes and goes and rarely is there a piece of 'must have' software. Firebug, an extension for Firefox, deserves to be to be heralded as an outstanding piece of software and something no web developer should be without.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Table of contents

Making web development easier

Every once an a while a thing of beauty comes along that makes your life easier. The switch from Windows to Mac is one example. Firebug 1.0 beta has given me the same warm glow. Quite simply it is a brilliant piece of software that will help developers to examine, test and debug web pages.

Firebug 1.0 ups the ante

I’ve been using Firebug since the early releases primarily as a debugging tool for Javascript and to watch AJAX calls and repsonses. Firebug 1.0 beta takes Firefox extensions to an entirely new level. Here a quick tour of some of the features. Go and download it and once you’ve been amazed make sure you donate.

The box model laid bare

Not sure why an element is out of line? No problem. Click on HTML and then in the right hand box choose Layout. Then click inspect and finally on any element on the page. You will see the offset, margin, border and padding for that element. Not only that but you can edit the numbers and see the changes live on the page!

The Box Model in Firebug

Page load

Need to find out which elements of your page are causing a slow load time? Click on Inspect and then Net and you will a list of files with the load time next to them, as well as the load order of the page. As if that’s not enough you can double click to see the headers.

Viewing page load time

Live Edit HTML and CSS

Why go to the trouble of opening up a text editor when you can live edit the page? Click on HTML and you will see two panes. The HTML is on the left and the CSS is on the right. Dive in and edit the code and see the changes rendered on the page.

HTML and CSS live editing

Javascript and AJAX

Firebug features a great Javascript debugger and a tool to watch AJAX calls go back and forth. For the AJAX tool click Net and then XHR.

Doing the DOM

As if that isn’t enough there is a comprehensive DOM inspector. You can look at a document any way you like. It is a great help in constructing scripts and debugging in general.

Quality control

Just having Firebug running is a great way to have automated quality control on your code. Sat next to Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar you should be able to quickly pick up any HTML, CSS and Javascript errors. After loading a page if you see any red click on the icon and you will quickly see what is wrong.

Quality control with Firebug

Enjoy it and then give some love back

Two things you should do after reading this

Have an update or suggestion for this article? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.


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