Firebug discontinued as separate Firefox add-on

Mozilla and the Firebug team announced today that development of Firebug as a separate Firefox add-on has been discontinued.

Firebug, probably the most popular third-party development add-on for Firefox ever, has been available for Firefox for a very long time.

I mentioned it here in 2008 for instance as one of the top five Firefox add-ons. The Firebug team announced back in 2014 that it would shift development from Firebug the add-on to contributing to Firefox's native development tools instead.

firebug firefox

There were good reasons for the change, but the main one was the introduction of Firefox's multi-process architecture. Firebug 2 is not multi-process compatible, and changing code to make it that would have been possible in a recent amount of time with the resources at hand.

Unfortunately, Firebug wasn’t designed with multiprocess in mind, and making it work in this new scenario would have required an extremely difficult and costly rewrite. The Firebug Working Group agreed they didn’t have enough resources to implement such a massive architectural change.

Another reason was that Firefox's built-in Developer Tools got better and better, and that it did not really make much sense to continue work on Firebug if the Developer Tools would offer most of the add-on's functionality already.

Additionally, Firefox’s built-in developer tools have been gaining speed, so it made sense to base the next version of Firebug on these tools instead.

The Firebug Working Group decided therefore that the best course of action was to discontinue development of Firebug 3, and join the Mozilla DevTools team instead to bring Firebug exclusive functionality to the built-in Developer Tools, and to make the Firefox Developer Tools even greater with the added manpower and experience.

The announcement puts development of Firebug 2 to an end. The last version of Firebug is version 2.0.18 released October 7, 2016. This version is still compatible with Firefox, but only if the browser's multi-process architecture is not enabled.

Several features of Firebug found their way into Firefox already:

The DOM panel, the Firebug theme, Server-side log messages, the HTTP inspector (aka XHR Spy), and various popular add-ons like FireQuery, HAR export, and PixelPerfect. Also, over 40 bugs were fixed to close the gap between DevTools and Firebug.

Firebug add-on users may want to check out the "migrating from Firebug" guide over on the Mozilla Developer Network for information on differences between Firebug and the Firefox Developer Tools.

Closing Words

The decision to merge Firebug features into Firefox's Developer Tools, and discontinue Firebug development makes sense on many levels. While it will leave some users behind, the majority will probably have little issues with migrating to the built-in Developer Tools. Mozilla asks Firebug users to report missing features here. (Thanks Sahil)

Now You: What's your take on the decision to discontinue Firebug?

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Firebug discontinued as separate Firefox add-on
Mozilla and the Firebug team announced today that development of Firebug as a separate Firefox add-on has been discontinued.
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Responses to Firebug discontinued as separate Firefox add-on

  1. Dev December 20, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    Pretty great news IMO. Can't actually see the downside so I'm not sure about the article title. I thought I was going to read something sad but it's cool and the body of your article seems to agree that it is.

  2. Robert December 20, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

    Great news indeed. I never looked at the developer tool until now. I just uninstalled Firebug and am now going to play around with the developer tool and learn it. With the Firebug team joining Firefox, this tool can only get better.

  3. Ray December 21, 2016 at 6:49 am #

    I've been using Firefox's Dev Tools for awhile now, and haven't really missed Firebug that much :)

    You can still use Firebug with Seamonkey though, as Seamonkey lacks a proper dev console.

  4. Tony December 21, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    There are upsides and downsides to this, but I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.

  5. Sinon December 21, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    I'll probably keep the Firebug extension around until June of year when I finally have to dump it and switch to Firefox Dev Tools.

    • Sinon December 21, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

      June of next year* (I was stupid and did not catch that in time)

    • pd December 21, 2016 at 6:19 pm #

      I noticed even without multuprocess enabled, Firebug no longer seems to detect Javascript at all. Regardless, I'll stick with it for as long as possible. It never worked very as a JS debugger anyway though I'm sure that couldn't have been improved if they wanted to.
      The native tools just 'feel' so clunky to use in a host of small ways that Firebug got right from step 1.

      • Sinon December 21, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

        Firebug still fully works for me (no issues) but that's probably because I am still using Firefox 45.

  6. pd December 21, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

    The built-in dev tools are NOT better and better. There's now a completely bullshit situation: neither the native dev tools nor Firebug, which has only had maintenance releases for a long time, are decent tools. They're both below par.

    Mozilla does a lot of bullshit that makes users lives harder but this is quite possibly the one that will break the back as I depend on Firebug FOR MY LIVING and a huge reason why I rejected the temptation to move to Chrome was the horrible feel of their tools. I've stayed loyal to Firefox for so long, through a lot of pain, but never have they made a decision like this that actually makes my job harder. I hate them for it. Maybe I should go and start building 'smart'phone apps?

    • Dev December 21, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

      What in particular do you have trouble dealing with with Firefox Dev tools ?

      Anyway, if both Firebug has fallen behind (but was previously good enough) and Firefox's built-in aren't quite there yet, then having the Firebug team join Firefox's could sound like hope to you.

      Personally I like Firefox Dev tools but I dislike Javascript as a language, am not a fan of HTML and CSS, and don't get me started on stupid SVG. (I prefer using languages that cross compile to JS whenever possible)

  7. Bill Bell December 27, 2016 at 2:53 am #

    Just hope they include Firepath in the development tools. It is the best Xpath development tool.

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