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Why Firebug sucks more than IE6

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I prefer working with IE6 nowadays than working with Firebug. Firebug sucks.

There I said it. IE6 is always bashed at conferences I go to, but actually the application that causes me most pain is Firebug.

I said this on Twitter this morning, and then followed a torrent of "how", "why?", "that's the first time anyone has said that", etc. Seriously, I know - it's a pretty huge statement to make, but it's true.

IE6 is simple beast. It may be a pain to work with, but it's a constant in the development world. You learn it's bugs and you learn to avoid them. IE6, thankfully, doesn't have any upgrades. IE9 could be considered an upgrade, but it's not, it's a rewrite, therefore you're not working with the same crappy platform.

Firebug (a different beast I know) is a constantly moving and shaking target. I'll list a few examples of pains in a moment, but here's my beef:

Firebug is the defacto development tool. It took us away from using alert for debugging and raised the bar. It raised the bar real high. If you raise the bar, you've got a reputation to maintain, and dropping below par isn't acceptable.

The problem with Firebug is that with each release something else breaks, and there's so many random stupid little bugs that I spend more time trying to work out whether it's a real bug or if Firebug is just being crap. I should add that my complaints are all based out of using the console. The HTML and CSS tabs are pretty solid, but still not perfect.

Here's a few random collection of issues I've encountered (and no, I don't have a ton of random extra plugins):

Firebug console randomly vanishes


Firebug showing an empty object, when it's not empty



Just a few random other Firebug issues

  • Using jQuery to log out the elements sometimes shows an array like object (perfect) sometimes shows an object with a length (crap)
  • Even though Firefox has the console open, writing to the console will cause a JavaScript error
  • Editing HTML on the fly (using the "edit" tab) doesn't edit
  • Really weird one, occassionally a JavaScript error that breaks (as a breakpoint) causes all text entry to block until I've continued the code
  • Previously, on any JavaScript errors, it would cause the console to be unusable and require a page refresh - not good for live demos at conferences
  • The net panel often doesn't yeild any information about what came down the wire, outright useless sometimes

All in all, I've come to rely on Firebug as a core utility of my web development process - and with all the minefields going off all over the place. I'm moving to the WebKit debugger, but there's some features of Firebug that I've come to rely on, DOM node inspection in context is one of them. WebKit's debugger doesn't have this yet.

I know you may not have seen all these issues, but seriously, I have. Firebug is a minefield, whereas IE6 is just broken, and we know exactly where it's broken and how to avoid those breakages. Firebug sucks for me right now.

If you've seen random errors - add a comment with what you've seen, and I'll add it to my list.


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Published at DZone with permission of Remy Sharp, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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