Firefox aiming up for remote debugging with IDE addition

Firefox aiming up for remote debugging with IDE addition

Summary: Firefox's slow morph into the Mozilla suite that it left behind continues as a HTML editor is added back into the web browser.


The hulking weight of the Mozilla suite was one of the original reasons the browser that eventually came to be known as Firefox was begun, but a decade later, the Mozilla browser is armed with an inbuilt integrated development environment (IDE) that surpasses the capability of the Mozilla Composer.

Currently released in Firefox's Nightly release stream, the IDE called WebIDE contains an editor for HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files based upon the open source CodeMirror editor, as well as Firefox OS simulators.

"This is a first step towards debugging across various platforms and devices over Wi-Fi using open remote debugging APIs," wrote Mozilla director of developer tools, Dave Camp in a blog post.

Although the remote debugging feature is currently only available for Firefox OS devices connected via USB, Camp said that Mozilla is working on an adapter that will allow clients using the Firefox Remote Debugging Protocol to "talk to all mobile browsers, regardless of rendering engine or runtime". The first pair of browsers on that list are Chrome for Android, and Safari for iOS.

Developers interested in giving WebIDE a spin will need to toggle the devtools.webide.enabled preference in Firefox Nightly's about:config page, and those just curious can view a video of the IDE in action.

The IDE thankfully allows for external editors to be used, and it should be possible to add Vim bindings into the CodeMirror-based internal editor, but the move does not fit the ethos of Firefox.

In the modern internet, browsers do not compete so much on features anymore, as they do on raw performance.

It's strange days when the embodiment of refining a bloated project down to its core components returns with a feature that is likely going to be used by very few users compared to the millions of Firefox users who are not interested in debugging and developing web pages within the browser.

There is still some time before WebIDE migrates up the Firefox release chain to a full, general release, and there is no guarantee that it will make it that far.

Mozilla's recent new theme, Australis, took over four months to graduate out of Nightly stream into the Beta release, and after almost two years of work, the plug was finally pulled on Metro Firefox for Windows 8 earlier this year.

Topics: Web development, Browser


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Firefox is dead! Long Live Pale Moon!

    I’ve just been FED UP with FF because of all of the memory leaks, etc. I've been running v16 forever because whenever I’ve tried to upgrade to newer versions, they’d all pretty much just crash after 30 minutes of heavy use, and not a single version of FF that I’ve ever used has ever fixed the memory leak problems. Not a single one.

    I actually installed a tiny batch file on quicklaunch so I could quickly kill FF at the point it’s consumed all of my RAM so I could then start over with “Restore Session” to automatically reload all of my previous tabs. After trying every “solution” to the leak problem, that’s the only one that ever did me any good. Apparently the arrogant tards at mozilla would rather tweak the UI to death rather than make a browser that actually works. They’re worse than even Microsoft because Microsoft has to listen to their customers sooner or later or go broke, whereas nonprofits can just drift along forever.

    At any rate, I just finished installing Pale Moon, including importing everything from FF with their little importer program, and everything went flawlessly, including all settings and the plethora of add-ons I use. The only difficulty was getting roboform attached, which I can’t live without. I did finally dumb around and got the roboform taskbar program to attach roboform to PM, which then worked flawlessly. It is, however, necessary for the roboform taskbar program to run all the time for roboform to continue to work on PM, but this is a very small price to pay to ditch FF forever.

    I've used PM for a week now, opening/closing/keeping hundreds of tabs a day, and I’ve been stunned at how much faster PM is than FF, as well as the VERY small memory footprint occupied by PM vs FF. Even after a week's HEAVY usage, PM has not grown beyond 1 GB, and even better, when I close tabs, ALL of the RAM is given back.

    Basically, PM is what FF ought to be. Even better, the genius behind Pale Moon, Mark Straver, has committed to keeping the PM UI fundamentally unmolested. I’ll be installing PM instead of FF on all of my client’s computers in the future as well!

    (BTW, ALL of the "recommended fixes" for the firefox memory leak problems are a sick joke. Not one of them works. And plugins DO NOT cause the memory leaks! Firefox does! How do I know? Because I switched to Pale Moon, importing everything EXACTLY like it was in Firefox and guess what? No memory leaks in Pale Moon! Oh, and I use Adblock Plus, Flash, Java, DoNotTrackMe, BetterPrivacy CookieCuller, DownloadHelper, Element Hiding Helper, IE View, ViewAbout, Visited, and roboform. So NONE of those is causing the firefox memory leak problems!)
    Metro Critic