Dojo Firebug Extension – from an XPage developer’s perspective

In this article I take a rather irreverent look at, and describe some what I was hoping would be, the useful capabilities of the dojo firebug extension available at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/dojofirebugextension/

Introduction

I love firebug for my client side JavaScript development – for many reasons too numerous to mention here. If you have no idea what firebug is then you should google it and find out – USE IT and you will never go back…..

So what’s this Dojo extension all about then ?

Right off the bat I loved finding this quote “The Dojo Firebug Extension started as an internal IBM initiative to help IBMers working with Dojo.”, and more importantly got me straight off on the thought of what can this do for me in my XPages?

The documentation is available here – https://getfirebug.com/wiki/index.php/DojoFirebugExtension_Reference_Guide and as firebug extensions go – this one is fairly well documented – nice job 🙂

You have to download a different version based on your firebug and your firefox version….that’s kinda weird and disconcerting and they don’t have my version of firebug or firefox – but hey we truck on in hope.

So What does it do for me as an XPages developer?

Good question – let’s find out…

Well the first thing it showed me was how MASSIVELY complicated the Dojo integration with XPages is……check out some of these idTags on this Tab Container!! 😮

Dojo Firebug extension in action
Dojo Firebug extension in action

 

Open API documentation

This *could be* really useful – if you can get over how useless the API documentation site is – let me paraphrase…….IF you understand how the Dojo API documentation works this *could be* fantastically helpful…..

In my previous article on how I figured out how to use the Dojo Tab Container doLayout (where the screenshots come from) I was struggling to find out what I needed to make the Tab Panel heights dynamic. Would this have helped?….I was kinda bitter at this point as I figured it would have….so i soldiered on..

Select the tab container and look at the extension

Selecting open API documentation
Selecting open API documentation

 

and opening the API documentation

Dojo API documentation
Dojo API documentation

 

*yawns* – so not really – but stay with me

The next options *looks* more useful (so why did you show us the API link? Yes you guessed it…… it *is* ‘cos I hate you and I wanted to force you to look at Dojo API documentation – get over it and don’t ask daft questions)

Open Reference Guide Doc

Open Reference Guide Doc
Open Reference Guide Doc

 

Which shows you this…….

Dojo Reference Guide Documentation
Dojo Reference Guide Documentation

 

First of all I am really impressed that this actually links to the 1.8 version which was only released this week – but that is also not helpful because XPages 8.5.(What I am using) uses 1.6 so which a quite switch over on the right hand side

Switching to 1.6
Switching to 1.6

We get…

Aw Butts - really?/?
Aw Butts – really?/?

And I was just saying how awesome you guys were – CRAP.

As it turns out the plugin is too smart and not smart enough to detect 1) the version of dojo I am using and 2) that this feature it thinks I am using is available in 1.6…

DOH
DOH

DOH *grrr*

Que?

So I didn’t solve that problem but I did find another one – I noticed that IBM modified the Dojo specifically for the extlib!! …if you look at the code reference in the extension

Well that is kinda interesting I guess..
Well that is kinda interesting I guess..

[view:_id1:_id2:_id39:djTabContainer1 (Widget extlib.dijit.TabContainer)]

and when we select to go to the Reference Guide Docs – the URL it is sent to

http://dojotoolkit.org/reference-guide/1.8/extlib/dijit/TabContainer.html

You will see that extlib has been inserted into the URL

the REAL documentation is here

http://dojotoolkit.org/reference-guide/1.8/dijit/layout/TabContainer.html

dijit/layout and not extlib/digit.

If you look at an example from david walsh’s blog you can see the difference…

vive la difference
vive la difference

 

Anything else?

Well I found out how to manage FireFox profiles – http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/internet/firefox/use-multiple-firefox-profiles-at-the-same-time/ which is kinda useful – so I did learn something useful from this investigation.

There are a number of cool Dojo debugging capabilities if you are really into writing seriously with the dijits whereby you can subscribe to the data and watch it move all over the place – kinda cool – not helpful for XPage development though.

So is this really useful for an XPages developer?

Well I have to say from an purely educational perspective it is really interesting to get an insight into how the dijits work…

Some really complex cool stuff going on  in here
Some really complex cool stuff going on in here

 

But I think my overall impression of the extension is that it will not help an XPage developer develop their XPages at all in any sort of way

Shame really 😦

PS

Let me rephrase that last sentiment – I think this COULD be really useful if IBM were inclined to apply some time and effort to making a similar extension for XPages Dojo development – but isn’t the point of XPages is kinda so we don’t have to worry about Dojo…so it would be an uber-dojo-geek expert XPages developer tool only…meh…who wants to do that?? 😉

Shame really 😦

PPS

That is two blog articles in a row about dojo – don’t worry I am not going back to the dark side – jQuery still rocks my world 😉

2 thoughts on “Dojo Firebug Extension – from an XPage developer’s perspective

  1. Hi Marky. Thanks for this post. Very informative. I really got excited in the beginning, but as I read on it turned into the usual disappointment I get when it comes to Dojo and XPages.

    At 1 stage I was really into Dojo and thought it was the right choice made by IBM, but I’m not so sure anymore. The only thing I take my hat off to Dojo for is partial refreshing.

    I still installed the Dojo Firebug Extension, hoping that it will help out in a few ways.

    Thanks again for this awesome post.

    • Glad you liked the post – sometimes I just need to be a little more myself and take everyone along for the ride rather than do a “formal” review 🙂

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