Twitter is lighting up with sentimental Firebug remembrances today after Mozilla announced it will reach end-of-life in the Firefox browser next month. Firebug was the first browser-based tool that allowed developers to easily inspect HTML and debug JS. It was discontinued as a separate add-on and merged into Firefox DevTools in 2016 where it will live on.
I remember the days of painstaking debugging before Firebug was available. It was a revolutionary tool that instantly became indispensable, helping developers work more efficiently.
Firebug was the rare kind of tool that instantly doubled the productivity of every developer it touched.
— Rob Spectre (@dN0t) October 25, 2017
RIP Firebug. Couldn’t have built any of my companies without you. https://t.co/NzoWHtxbTu
— justin kan (@justinkan) October 24, 2017
“Firebug changed everything for me as a frontend developer,” Jens Grochtdreis said. “Looking back I cannot remember how hard the times were before Firebug stepped on the scene. Now each browser has mature developer tools. That’s because of Firebug. Mission accomplished!”
In recognition of what Firebug brought to developers, Mozilla reviewed one of the most important points in Firebug history – the decision to open source the software. This allowed for the proliferation of similar browser development tools that we see today. Firebug creator Joe Hewitt, who eventually moved on to Facebook, made the tool open source in December 2006:
The first announcement is in regards to Firebug’s licensing. As I was developing Firebug 1.0, I began to wonder if I should try to turn the project from a hobby into a business. When I proposed this idea on my blog, the response was very positive and reaffirmed my belief that Firebug could do well as a commercial product.
However, in the end, I just don’t feel like that is the right thing to do. I love working on Firebug because I know I’m making a lot of people happy and helping to advance the state of the art. That’s a lot more meaningful to me than just about anything else, and so, I’ve decided that Firebug will remain free and open source.
Mozilla reported that more than a million people are still using the Firebug add-on. Firefox Developer Tools has a guide for migrating from Firebug. There are still several Firebug features missing from Firefox DevTools, but Mozilla is tracking them and working to bring greater parity between the two. Support for the separate Firebug extension will be discontinued with the release of Firefox Quantum (version 57) in November 2018.