A software package a day: Firefox as development tool

Developing web based software can be a challenge, but it can be a lot easier with the right tools. With Firefox and a few plug-ins you have some excellent tools for a grand total price of zero. Over time I accumulated quite a few plug-ins that I feel make a web developer more productive. Here is my current inventory specifically for web development: Fiddler, Firebug, HTML Validator and the Web Developer. Beyond these I use Adblock Plus, Delicious Bookmarks, DownThemAll!, Greasemonkey, NoScript and Prism for various non-development tasks. I am amazed that Firefox remains stable with all these plug-ins running, but it works great.

All of these deserve their own articles. The key point here is that Firefox provides a great platform for building a development environment… everything short of the code editor itself is available. (Actually there are even code editors, but I have a couple of preferences for that which have yet to be equaled in Firefox plug-ins). Each of these plug-ins brings something unique to the table. Fiddler lets me inspect the HTTP protocol messages, especially useful for detecting 301 redirects or strange post backs that aren’t acting as you expect.  Firebug is a nice debugger for Javascript and inspecting CSS and the HTML Document Object Model interactively.  HTML Validator is a great tool that sits quietly in the notification area letting you know if you have any problems with your code. Finally the Web Developer toolbar brings a raft of useful tools like the Forms menu which allows you to break out of the HTML restrictions to test that malformed post backs are actually being caught and handled properly or the Cookies menu which makes testing various cookie scenarios easy.

With these tools at my disposal I can tackle virtually any web page challenge easily… and all for free.