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See also Firebug 1.4 activation model.
See also post related to Firebug 1.5 activation.

One of the most noticeable thing (apart from bunch of bug-fixes) of the upcoming Firebug 1.2beta4 (check AMO) is new UI for Firebug activation.

We have been hardworking on this (UI is hard), following carefully all the great user feedback on Firebug newsgroups, and this version has finally something, which looks like quite promising solution (I am curious about the next user feedback ;-).

In the previous version (Firebug 1.05 and 1.1), it was only possible to disabled/enable Firebug entirely (and/or for specific site). However, most of the Firebug features don't reduce Firefox performance and thus can be available and handy all the time. For instance, the DOM Inspector is indispensable tool for a lot of users and there is no performance penalty when using Firefox.

The solution we have chosen makes possible to independently enable/disable those features that can reduce Firefox performance (now disabled by default). The other features are just available and there is no reason to disable them.

So, the following panels are currently activable:

  • Console logging - Console panel
  • Javascript Debugger - Script panel
  • Network monitoring - Net panel

We have introduced a new menu, which is accessible directly from the panel's tab. See the following screen-shots. You can also notice that disabled tab label is grayed out (click the image to enlarge it).

Firebug activation menu


Firebug activation menu

The menu is available for all activable panels (i.e. for those which can be enabled/disabled) and is displayed only for the currently selected tab so, the space on the tab-bar isn’t wasted. The menu target (the black-arrow) can’t be overlooked by the user, but it’s also not eye catching.

All the activable logic is behind these four options:

  1. Enabled – The panel is enabled for all sites.
  2. Disabled - The panel is disabled for all sites.
  3. Enable <panel>for <site> - The panel is enabled for specific site.
  4. Disable <panel> for <site> - The panel is enabled for specific site.

So, some users who use Firebug just occasionally can keep all activable panels disabled and perhaps enable them only for some specific sites. The others can enable all panels and perhaps disable them just for sites like e.g. gmail.

There is also additional Sites... option that displays list of sites for which the panel has been enabled or disabled.

List of enabled/disabled sites

You can see that in this case, Network Monitor has been enabled for

Finally, the following page is displayed for a disabled panel (Net panel in this case). The page allows one click enablement of the panel and also activation of multiple panels at once. The user can just select appropriate panels and press Enable selected... button.

Firebug\'s panel disabled

The internal architecture of the UI is extensible so, possible Firebug extensions can utilize all the APIs and hook up into the UI as well. This will be useful especially for the user as the activation approach will be the same thorough entire Firebug IDE.

I welcome any new ideas about how to improve the UI!

Just a quick update for all who just installed fresh new Firefox 3 and want to use latest compatible Firecookie extension.

Download Firecookie 0.6

I would also strongly recommend to  use Firebug 1.2 with Firefox 3.

One of the most interesting parts of the Firebug framework is a template system called Domplate. This engine is used to generate HTML UI of Firebug (content of all FB's panels).

It's quite powerful template system and I would definitely recommend to use it when creating UI for Firebug extensions.

Domplate generates the result HTML markup according to templates written in JavaScript. These templates are internally evaluated into a text, which is consequently inserted into specified DOM element on the page through innerHTML property.

It's also possible to define DOM event listeners so, the template object can handle even the user interaction with the final UI.