Love FireBug, Need to test using a browser that isn't Firefox?

>> Monday, 15 September 2008

I'm pretty certain that if you're a developer you care enough about the internet to have a favourite browser. Regardless of personal preference though you would be severely lacking as a developer if you didn't test using other browsers that may represent a large portion of your user base.

This isn't typically a problem because browsers will happily co-exist on the same machine but what happens if you make use of browser specific features such as plug-ins in your development/testing environments? Unless the developer specifically writes the plug-in for each browsers plug-in architecture (assuming one even exists) then you cannot easily perform the same kind of tests/debugging that you use in one browser on another.

This was the case with the extremely popular Firefox plug-in FireBug, a tool that would allow you to edit, debug and monitor the html, css and javascript of any browser accessible site in real time.

The only problem with this is that once you become accustomed to being able to pull up Firebug to quickly inspect whats going on, make some changes on the fly, retry and see the result of your in-place changes immediately you become a little too spoilt and when it comes to testing on another browser you very quickly miss this (flame avoidance disclaimer: other browsers have tools to do these things too, but working across multiple tools to do the same job can feel disjointed at the best of times and frustrating at the worst).

It would appear that the developers of Firebug have noticed the number of people looking to replicate the capabilities of their plug-in across other browsers and have released a new javascript include file you can put into your code called Firebug lite which aims to replicate some of the functionality of the fully fledged version in the other major browsers (such as IE, Opera and Safari).

Installation is as simple as placing the following line of code within any page you wish to use Firebug lite

<script type='text/javascript' 
src='http://getfirebug.com/releases/lite/1.2/firebug-lite-compressed.js'></script>

For more information on Firebug lite or if you want to install the Firebug plugin for Firefox just visit the getfirebug.com site and you should find everything you need.

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