Everyone who releases a software product wishes they could have users as smart and enthusiastic as Firebug's. Since I put Firebug out there 10 months ago, hundreds of you have taken the time to share your wishes and ideas for the future of web debugging, and I've done my best to listen.
The only down side to Firebug is that it is not my full-time job; it's something I work on when I can find some spare time. When you're one half of an ambitious two-person startup, there isn't a lot of spare time to be found, so unfortunately I've had to neglect Firebug for long periods. However, the responsibility I feel towards Firebug's users has compelled me to try something different.
In early October, I decided to take as much time as needed to re-design Firebug from the ground up and make it into the product that everyone wants it to be. I wanted to make Firebug into a high quality product with a company behind it and the full-time attention of at least one engineer. When so many people depend on a product every day to do their jobs, then it deserves to be more than just one guy's hobby.
For a sneak preview head on over to the new Firebug website. It has a fully illustrated tour of the new product, and will soon contain a library of documentation that helps you get the most out of Firebug.
Today is the day that I am starting a small beta cycle for Firebug 1.0. At first I'll be sharing the beta with a small group, but as the builds get more stable I will expand the circle.
There is one important side-effect of this step in the maturity of Firebug. If Firebug is going to continue to grow, remain stable, and be attentive to your needs as a user, then the project needs to be financially self-sustaining. I would love to be able to hire one or two engineers who love toolmaking as much as I do, and can dedicate themselves to Firebug full-time while I focus on my other project.
To achieve that, I am considering transitioning Firebug from being a free product to being an inexpensive product. My goal is to set the cost of Firebug at a level that is low enough for everyone to afford, but high enough that it can pay the bills. I would really appreciate it if all of you out there could help me make the right decision here. After reading about Firebug 1.0 and all of its abilities, would you consider paying something in the range of $15-$25 for it?
Thanks again to everyone who has voiced their support of Firebug, and especially those who have donated. I hope you love Firebug 1.0 and we can continue to work together to build products that make web development fun.
Update: Firebug 1.0 beta has been released. It will remain free and open source after all. Read more here.