Free at Last: Firebug 1.0 Beta

Joe Hewitt has released the first public beta of Firebug 1.0, the single most indispensable Firefox extension for web developers (yes, it’s even more useful than Web Developer—which I realize is a big call). What’s more, he’s keeping it free.

Firebug 1.0 Beta Screenshot

In defiance of realistic expectation, each version of Firebug has easily been twice as cool as the one that came before it, and this new release is no different. Here are my favorite enhancements:

  • You can undock Firebug into its own window—multi-monitor users rejoice!
  • The DOM inspector now offers full in-place editing of your document structure, not just attribute values.
  • The DOM inspector’s CSS tab reveals all applicable CSS rules for elements, including properties inherited from ancestor elements, and lets you toggle on/off and edit individual style declarations.
  • The DOM inspector’s Layout tab pops up guides, rulers, and shaded boxes in the main browser view to illustrate the CSS box model as it applies to each element that you hover your mouse over.
  • The Net tab graphs the request times for all files that make up a page, meaning I can just about throw away the Tamper Data extension, which I previously used for this.
  • The new JavaScript profiler reports on the execution times of your JavaScript functions, so you can pin down performance bottlenecks in serious JavaScript applications.

The most important aspect of this new release, however, is that it’s still free. Having dedicated a significant period of intensive development to Firebug, Hewitt was toying with the idea of making Firebug 1.0 a commercial product priced somewhere between $15 and $25.

With the release of 1.0 Beta, however, Hewitt has reaffirmed his commitment to keeping Firebug free for all, as it is such a vital contribution to the state of web development art. He does ask that you consider donating to the project if you find the product useful.

Now, I’d have happily paid $15 for a commercial version of Firebug if things had gone that way, but I’m so happy with the free and open source model Hewitt has settled on that I’ve already plunked down a $20 donation to the project.

Get Firebug. Fall in love with it. And when you do, think about donating too. I hear the next version will be twice as cool.