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Guide: Firefox Developer Edition: Tips and Tutorial
After a short plague, Mozilla has been officially released Firefox Developer Edition. It is a new browser specifically aimed at web developersWhile it hasn’t been officially announced, it looks like it will replace Firefox Aurora at some point.
Judging by the name, the official announcements and the landing page, it looks like Firefox Developer Edition the first major browser built for development, not just to support it. It includes a host of debuggers, panels, and other utilities, plus it uses its own profile to make it easier to run alongside Firefox. Let’s see what it has to offer.back to menu ↑
The changes to the interface in the Developer Edition already indicate a developer-centric approach. The toolbar is noticeably narrower than both Chrome and regular Firefox, with more being added buttons standard.
It’s pretty clear that the new default theme is dark, which may be the result of some smart UI testing. It is extremely important to find everything at a glance during developmentA second delay in finding something can be hours per month. I personally prefer the light colors for casual use, but the dark UI was great in my initial testing.
If you prefer the default theme, you can disable the developer edition theme very quickly using the “Use Firefox Developer Edition theme” button proceed to Menu -> Customize
On the other hand, there are some interface choices that confuse meI’m pretty sure bookmarks will be used a lot less in this version and most developers know the Ctrl / Cmd + D key combination to make this happen. The fact that there is a devotee button for this; the bookmarks area, the download area, and even the Developer Edition homepage seems a bit redundantback to menu ↑
My first impression was that there is nothing here that I have not seen beforeThis is even reinforced by Mozilla on the landing page:
“It’s everything you’re used to, only better”
Developer tools work much the same as on regular Firefox, WebIDE and Valence can already be used. Only minor cosmetic changes make the Developer Edition different from Firefox
That being said, there is an underlying sense of right direction hereIt seems Mozilla has been waiting for a while to make this version of Firefox, they were just waiting for a critical mass of developer tools and know-how. It feels like they’ve created a framework in which to place and test future tools and methodologies
In more developer-friendly jargon, it looks like the Developer Edition is a fork of the regular version which has just been made, with a few minor tweaks. From now on, development will be intensified and focused specifically on this product, separating it from regular Firefox and making it the go-to place for developers. Or at least that’s the intention.
One of the biggest indicators of how Mozilla plans to position the Developer Edition is the inclusion of Valence (more on this later). Mozilla’s position on Valence is this:
“The adapter is still in its infancy and is only available as a preview. We don’t recommend using it for everyday work yet. “
It appears that the Developer Edition will receive tools earlier than regular versions of FirefoxAlthough it doesn’t seem likely that Mozilla will remove the developer features of Firefox, maybe some future versions will only be added to the new Developer Edition. I support keeping bloat out of browsers and welcome this new direction.back to menu ↑
One of the most prominent ads features is WebIDE. Added in Firefox 34, it is a replacement for the App Manager – it allows you to edit and debug Firefox OS applications with the Firefox OS simulator or a real deviceIn others words, it is what Xcode is to iOS.back to menu ↑
Valence is essentially a debugger for multiple browsersIt allows the developer tools to work with a wide variety of browsers. Currently, the main targets for Valence are Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS. The technicalities of this are a bit difficult to understand, so check out this video from Mozilla:back to menu ↑
If you’re familiar with developer tools in regular Firefox, that’s about what you’d expectCall it with Ctrl / CMD + I or right click on an element and click “Inspect Element”.
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The Inspector gives you a collapsible tree view of the DOM pageWhen you hover the mouse pointer over an element in the DOM, it will be highlighted on the page, which is very helpful in figuring out dimensions and where things are in general.
The other way around is even more useful. By clicking on the top right icon as in the screenshot above, you can navigate through the page and elements will be highlighted under your cursorIn many cases, this is a more feasible way to inspect something when it is in the midst of overlapping elements.
The inspector you can double-click to edit the content or properties of an element. a trick what might be helpful to know is that the DOM can be traversed with the arrow keys, you can even delete and undo with the delete key and Ctrl / Cmd + Z command.
Clicking and dragging in the DOM highlights part of the DOM, the boundaries are displayed on the web page, another great tool for visualizing your HTML structure and CSS code.
The CSS rules for a particular element are displayed up in the sidebar for quick reading and easy editing.back to menu ↑
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The console is great for quickly logging some script issues and getting your code working on the first try. If you want to come up with some more complex problems, you have to use the debugger
Not only this allows you to spot bugs, but also lets you test different use cases quite quicklyIt won’t replace unit testing, but it will give you a deeper understanding and a great companion to them!back to menu ↑
The style editor is a great place to write styles and see the results liveYou can select any of the loaded stylesheets or you can directly import and create new stylesheets. Any modified file can be easily saved.
Although this is amazingly useful feature for minor adjustments, it is not so useful for more complex environments that work with preprocessorsThese environments can be set up, but the overhead of this is about the same as using a preprocessor that has live reload enabled.back to menu ↑
Profiles can be easily saved and importedso you can compare profiles to streamline your applications!back to menu ↑
The timeline tool is not available by default in the regular version of Firefox, it allows you to see what operations are performed by the browser engineThe tool displays reflows (layout), restyle, paint, console and DOM events.
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The Network tab is great for understanding the requests your website makes while it’s loading and while it’s being used by usersIt lists sources and status codes, along with the time it took to load and when the loading took place.
The bottom filter allows you to look at specific asset types, a very useful tool for identifying AJAX calls with the XHR type.
Clicking on an asset will show the response and request headers, cookies, parameters, response and timings.
One of the most useful features is the ability to start a performance analysis on your website by right clicking and choosing the appropriate optionThis will bring up two pie charts comparing a cached and an uncached load.
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Responsive design mode
The responsive design mode allows you to see how your site will look in different sized windowsThis isn’t a real emulator so the results may vary slightly, but it’s great for previewing the outcome of media queries.
Once in responsive mode, you can switch between preset screen sizes, click and drag for custom sizes, change orientation and simulate touch events.
When developing, I usually change the width of the browser window and leave it until I’m done, but I like that the responsive design mode is great for that final controls and for viewing states between breakpointsback to menu ↑
In a nutshell: while not much is brand new features for developers who up with Mozilla news, the direction is promisingI look forward to many tool-specific features such as Coffeescript, Sass, Less and others.
Perhaps even compilers and other processing tools can be added to make Firefox Developer Edition a true developer package, and not just something with which we look at our end result.
As a seasoned developer I already have tools to compile, create my scripts final builds, automate common programming tasks, check my code for errors and reload my browser live. If a browser offered some of these features, it can make some aspects of my job a lot fasterI will be following this project with great interest and I suggest you do too.
If you have any thoughts or are already experienced with the Firefox Developer Edition, let us know what you think in the comments.back to menu ↑
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