A first look at Firefox’s new Developer Edition

Firefox's new Developer Edition, a version of the popular web browser designed specifically for web developers, will see an official release on November 10, 2014.

The main idea behind the new version of Firefox is to provide the development community with a browser that comes packed with additional web development tools that other versions of Firefox don't ship with by default.

Mozilla teased the release a couple of days ago on the official blog but did not really reveal a lot about the browser. The teaser video lacked information and the overall lack of information was the core reason why I did not write about it here on this site.

I managed to get my hands on the latest version of the Developer Edition today and would like to show you what is new and what has been changed in this version.

The first surprise comes when you start the browser for the first time: squared tabs instead of curved ones.

firefox developer edition

This is without any add-ons installed on a new profile specifically created for the Developer Edition.

The interface looks a bit different as well. It uses a darker theme than the regular version of Firefox and the main toolbar is packed with icons.

They open the following tools / functionality:

  1. Web Developer Tools
  2. Bookmark this page / Show bookmarks.
  3. Download Manager.
  4. Firefox Developer Edition Start Page.
  5. Start a conversation.
  6. Open WebIDE.

It is possible to switch to the standard Firefox theme using the customize menu.

firefox-switch-theme

The only thing new on it is the WebIDE link. WebIDE is available in Firefox 34 and newer only, and can be enabled in Firefox 33 as well by setting devtools.webide.enabled to true in about:config.

There are other changes however, some of which will come as a surprise to users of the browser.

It appears that the Aurora channel will be replaced by the Developer Edition. While there has not been any official confirmation yet apart from the Developer Edition's Mozilla Developer Network page, it looks as if the new channel hierarchy will be Nightly > Beta > Stable with the Developer Edition becoming a separate edition.

The release schedule remains the same but instead of 6+6+6 weeks it is now 6+12 weeks.

firefox developer edition 35

Another difference is that the Developer Edition uses a different profile out of the box. It is called dev-edition-default and will be created when you start the Developer Edition for the first time.

This means that the profile won't interfere anymore with the regular Firefox profile and that you can run the Developer Edition alongside other Firefox editions without using the startup parameter --no-remote to do so.

allow-firefox-developer-edition-firefox-run

According to Mozilla, several preferences have been modified for developers. If you check about:support you find a list of modified preferences.

developer edition

Last but not least, you will notice that it ships with two extensions pre-installed. First Firefox Developer Tools Adapter, a protocol adapter for Firefox Developer Tools and then ADB Helper, an add-on to improve Firefox OS device connectivity.

extensions

To summarize the core changes:

  1. Firefox Aurora becomes Firefox Developer Edition.
  2. Firefox Developer Edition will not take Aurora's place in the release cycle.
  3. Releases are moved from Nightly to Beta (after six weeks) and from Beta to Stable (after twelve weeks).
  4. The Developer Edition uses its own profile and it can be run alongside other versions of Firefox (you can uncheck that option in the preferences under Startup.
  5. It uses a different theme, both in regards to the color scheme and tab design which you can revert to the default Firefox theme.
  6. It ships with two extensions pre-installed (they can be removed).
  7. Mozilla plans to integrate developer tools that are not ready for prime time yet in the browser.

This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News

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