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Why Firefox DevTools?

Alex Limi (from Mozilla) published an excellent post yesterday assessing the current settings control panel in Firefox. Many of the options are unused by 99% of users and some even break the browsing experience.

Alex argues that if these settings are not for the vast majority of users, they don’t belong in the control panel.

The people that need to do these things should use add-ons, or at the very least an about:config tweak.

I completely agree.

And so I found it ironic that Paul Rouget (also from Mozilla) had also posted yesterday about the future of Firefox DevTools.

DevTools is a set of features built into Firefox for web developers. As a developer myself, I absolutely love the work that Paul and his teammates are doing. But I have to challenge the idea of including these features in Firefox core rather than making them available as add-ons.

Surely the vast majority of Firefox users are not developers. So, why include this in Firefox?

Also, as much as I love the effort they are putting into DevTools, much of it seems like a repeated effort. Firebug has been around for a long time and is battle-tested. Why rebuild its features into Firefox core? Why not put the effort toward improving Firebug instead?

In his post yesterday, Paul talks about building a new network panel and timeline for DevTools like the one in Firebug. What advantage will the new panel have over Firebug?

I’m genuinely curious about the answers to these questions. I’m not trying to call out Paul or his teammates here or declare “you’re doing it wrong.” That’s not helpful.

I love Mozilla and the work that they do. I’ve had the pleasure of working with several talented folks who are now part of the Mozilla family. I deeply respect the work they do and I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t care.

I’d love to hear from Paul and/or his teammates, get some insight into their decision making, and start a discussion. I want Firefox to be the best goddamn browser, always.