Firebug 1.5 book from Packt Publishing Review

Firebug Book Review

The success of Firefox over recent years can be partly attributed to the extensions that beef up what’s already a great browser into something truly amazing. Firebug’s one of the most popular extensions, and for good reason. I’ve used it for editing CSS, viewing AJAX requests, DOM manipulation and debugging JavaScript. To say it’s been helpful is a large understatement, and it’s why I use Firefox as my main browser for web development.

Packt Publishing’s lengthily titled ‘Firebug 1.5 : Editing, Debugging, and Monitoring Web Pages’ starts the reader off gently with a ‘Getting Started’ chapter, discussing Firebug’s history, installation and Firebug Lite, a JavaScript version for non-Firefox browsers. In cases where a particular problem occurs on Safari, for example, the lite version can be extremely useful. Chapter 2 introduces the various Firebug tabs and gives a good overview of Firebug’s main capabilities. Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6 expand on the HTML, CSS and DOM functionality, and provide a great, in-depth examination of what’s possible.

Chapter 7 – ‘Performance Tuning Our Web Application’ – looks at the Net panel, and once again, the discussion is thorough and well-written. Not only does it give information about Firebug, but by its very nature, delves into HTTP headers and XMLHttpRequest monitoring.

Chapter 8 – ‘AJAX Development’ explains the console.debug call that I’ve made on several occasions, as well the (new to me) console.assert for for assertions and the useful console.dir(object) for giving a DOM tab style object dump for the supplied object parameter.

Chapter 9 – ‘Tips and Tricks for Firebug’ also had something new for me, and console.groupEnd(), which are functions that group ouput in the output console. When there are lots of debug statements being fired out to the console window, it can be useful to group them, and I’ve already used this to my benefit since reading the book.

Chapter 10 – ‘Necessary Firebug Extensions’ takes a look at ways of making Firebug even better by using 8 extensions that empower their users to more accurately diagnose and fix performance issues, manage cookies and improve SEO.

Chapter 11 – ‘Extending Firebug’ builds on Chapter 10′s introduced extensions by describing how to build your own. To keep things in proportion, it’s a fairly small chapter, building a small ‘Hello World’ extension, but it does give food for thought.

The book closes with an Appendix detailing Firebug’s API, and a look ahead at Firebug 1.7

Overall, this is a well-written and descriptive book, and although it is probably more suitable for a new to intermediate Firebug user, I found quite a few ‘ooh – I didn’t know that’ moments throughout that make it worthwhile for any reader who designs and develops websites.