John J Barton and the future of Firebug
If you look back at the history of Firebug, the creator was obviously Joe Hewitt. However, the steward of the project for the last several years has been IBM’s John J. Barton. There were some stormy times to steward Firebug. Firefox was changing, the Web was a lot harder to manage as apps were so much richer, and Web Inspector was growing.
John has announced a new chapter in his life, as he joins Google to work on next gen Web developer tools for the Chrome team.
Firebug used to be *the* way you debugged your sites, but that is changed, as John points too:
Now all of the browsers have (or will soon have) their own debuggers. Basing next gen work on Firebug is not practical. The pace of change in browsers is too fast for our team size. Firebug hasn’t really been able to keep up with Firefox, let alone compete with other tools. Moreover, the shift from desktop to mobile and from one high-tech browser (Firefox) to three or more requires additional development effort. I think our current drive to re-architect Firebug is on the right track, but I could not obtain another year of support from IBM to contribute to that work.
The team continues in his absence, and although Firefox has its own (quite large now!) developer tools team, one member is still working on Firebug. It is too early to claim that Firebug is zombied, but all eyes will be on that… especially as we see other browser tools continue to blossom.
Back to John, what is he working on next?
In moving to Google my first priority will be to complete the investigation of QueryPoint debugging with Salman Mirghasemi while he is still in his PhD. Other work will depend upon what I learn at Google, but I hope to be able to help if someone from Firebug wants to port to the Chrome remote debug protocol. While the Chrome team is naturally focused on tools for their browser, Google as a whole benefits from dev-tools improvements on all platforms. Thus I will also be looking for other opportunities to work with you.
QueryPoint debugging has been tested as a Firefox extension, with the main feature being lastChange:
lastChange is a new debugging feature providing information about program state changes. From a breakpoint in a debugger a developer can ask for the lastChange on an object property. The lastChange feature provides information on the source line and data values at the point of change.
Congratulations to JJB. We look forward to seeing what great Web tools come from you and your team in the future.