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Using Firebug Plus Extensions to Build Better Web Pages

written by: sherisaid•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/11/2010

Firebug is a great tool made greater with the addition of extensions that do everything a web developer needs except serve coffee in the middle of the afternoon. Taken together, this is one impressive set of doodahs.

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    Ask your average web developers what Firefox extension they could have if they could only choose one, and a pretty clear majority would say Firebug. Firebug makes streamlining your own web development a breeze but allowing live page editing of CSS, Javascript and HTML. It also offers a comprehensive "view source" option to see how sites hang together. But add the extensions for the extension and you can see how Firebug's slogan, "web development evolved," is perfectly fitting. It's an amazing tool alone, but the extensions make it invaluable.

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    Firebug plus PixelPerfect

    One of the coolest things you can do with Firebug is combine it with PixelPerfect, an extension that lets you drag elements around on the page using an onion-skin transparency feature to see where it was in addition to where it is now – instantly, without reloading the page. Some web developers may harbor an objection to messy HTML code results from visual placement, but if the front-end results are exactly as you envisioned, it's worth it to most of us.

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    The YSlow extension

    Page load times affect user satisfaction in a big way. Firebug extension Yslow analyses the page for speed and makes recommendations to improve load times. Example suggestions might be: Move CSS to the top of the page, out scripts at the bottom of the page, and minify JavaScripts and CSS. Some of the suggestions might be impractical for small budget sites, but it will help you eliminate common errors that slow your code.

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    Debugging with FirePHP

    Hardly anything works right the first time and chasing down errors can be pretty frustrating. With Firebug's FirePHP extension, finding those maddening PHP errors is easier, and it's especially helpful for code containing Ajax applications. There's a lot more functionality to FirePHP than the scope of this article allows, so you'll just have to trust me – it will blow you away.

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    The SenSEO Firebug extension offers a checklist of SEO criteria and rates your page using Google's webmaster guidelines. SEO analytic data allows you to tweak and optimize your content and meta-data to earn the love of all the major SERPs and make your clients happy.

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    Debugging JavaScript cookies can be an absolute nightmare, but the FireCookie extension makes it easy by allowing you to inspect and edit cookies, including permissions, expiration time, and values. You can use it to sort cookies by domain and disable global or local cookies.

    It seems that whatever the development task, there's a Firebug extension tool to address it, and every one is open source and freely available for download. It's hard to imagine a more useful and comprehensive set of tools for any web developer.

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