A Renewed Developer Tools Focus at Mozilla

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When I joined Mozilla at the beginning of 2009, I was a part of Ben and Dion‘s “Developer Tools Lab”. As part of Mozilla Labs, the plan was basically that we’d try out a bunch of ideas for developers and see what we could learn from them. The biggest of those ideas was the Bespin project, into which we’ve put a good deal of effort. When Ben and Dion left to join Palm, the Bespin project was rolled into Labs directly and the various other bits of experimentation fell by the wayside.

Meanwhile, Mozilla has been gradually adding to developer tool support in Firefox through Jan Odvarko‘s work on the amazing Firebug and, more recently, work that Rob Campbell and David Dahl have been doing on some new tools that are directly part of the Firefox product.

Bespin is a very interesting project on its own, but for quite a while I’ve viewed it as part of a bigger picture, which is why we’ve put so much effort into our “Embedded” releases which make it easy to make Bespin a part of many “bigger pictures”. Likewise, I think that developer tools and platform improvements that ship with Firefox will ultimately be part of a bigger picture that will help developers build the kinds of powerful apps that HTML5 makes possible.

I’ve taken on a new role at Mozilla as the manager of a unified Developer Tools group that lives within the Firefox product organization. Though we’ll likely do some experimentation that may show up under Mozilla Labs, our focus in this new group is much more on shipping great, real-world-ready developer tools. I’m really excited about this change, because we’ll be in a better position than before to make our big picture dreams for dev tools come true. I’m also really excited to be working with such a talented group of people including the Firefox/Firebug engineers mentioned earlier and the Bespin team (Joe Walker, Patrick Walton and our interns for the summer Julian Viereck and Mihai Sucan).

2 thoughts on “A Renewed Developer Tools Focus at Mozilla

  1. Joakim

    Since firebug has been out for ages and bespin is some that nobody is actually using (yet), are we going o see *any* new tools coming from you guys? I don’t want to sound negative but I was hoping more from the developer tools lab :(

  2. Hi Joakim,

    There were some other, smaller things out of the developer tools lab like the Open Web Tools Directory.

    Bespin has gone through a few releases this year and we recently introduced the “Bespin Bookmarklet” which lets people use Bespin in place of textareas. There are more people actively using Bespin today than any time before. We could have spent our time creating other experimental tools, but instead spent time working on turning Bespin into something that is real-world usable. Bespin is also part of the Firefox Add-Ons Builder.

    Beyond that, Firefox 4 will ship with new developer tools in the product. Those are new code, but the target audience there is not the serious javascript hacker audience.

    In short: yes, there will be new tools. What would you like to see?

    Kevin

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