Development Blog

Firebug Inspect Feature Implementations

Since “inspect” is a core and widely used Firebug feature, I wanted to give an update on its status and plans.

The short version: We think Firebug 1.5Xa21 has most reliable inspect ever (esp. on FF 3.5) and we have an even better one in the pipeline.

Some details now. There are 4 versions of the inspect feature:

  1. Joe’s original inspect, plus some minor tweaks. This was in Firebug 1.3. Lots of success; lots of bug reports.
  2. Mike Radcliffe’s ‘body-tag’ version, in Firebug 1.4. Solved problems of Joe’s version; also lots of bug reports.
  3. Mike Radcliffe’s Joe-fix-pack version, in Firebug 1.5. Avoids the body tag problems; no track record yet.
  4. Mike Radcliffe’s Canvas version: Total new approach, in progress.

The first three versions work by injecting content into the web page.  We try not to collide with page content, but the web is so big and various that some collisions happen.  So some pages have inspect offsets, failures, or (rarely) the page is mis-rendered. Because the tags used in 1.3 and 1.4 are somewhat different, 1.3 might fail on cases where 1.4 works and vice versa.

By unfortunately coincidence, changes in Firefox 3.5 make inspect with 1.4 break more often. So Firebug 1.4 on Firefox 3.0 is better than Firebug 1.4 on Firefox 3.5 for inspect. This is what sparked the 1.5 version.

So why don’t we put the 1.5 inspect into 1.4? Because our ability to test inspect is limited give the huge variety of pages.  Users who have problem with 1.4 on Firefox 3.5 can use Firebug 1.5a21 now and we don’t risk breaking users who do not have a problem.

And what about that canvas version? The idea is to create an inspect that does not inject elements in the page. Is it possible? Stay tuned…


Followups on the newsgroup please.

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