If you recently upgraded to Firebug 1.8 you will have noticed that FirePHP no longer worked and when visiting http://www.firephp.org/ you would have seen a notice prompting you to upgrade to DeveloperCompanion.
I have been working on FirePHP 1.0 (comparison) for a few years now to come up with a streamlined way to develop PHP (and other languages) code in the modern web environment. To make this a reality a new server library and client is needed. I wrote both of these from scratch based on a bunch of research utilizing the latest technologies (especially for the client).
What sets the FirePHP 1.0 (server library) apart is that it includes a new cross language intelligence system called Insight intended to bring the FirePHP way of debugging to other programming languages. Furthermore Insight is designed to support multiple clients that can embed the Insight system (composed of CommonJS modules) in order to bring native support to IDEs and other developer tools (this aspect is not ready yet but will receive significant attention in time).
I wrote the new client (DeveloperCompanion) to support all existing FirePHP Extension features plus new ones (to be released with Firebug 1.9) free of charge. The paid version builds on the free foundation by offering more streamlined and time-saving features.
The arrival of Firebug 1.8 brings along a bunch of internal changes which broke the FirePHP Extension 0.5 release. Given that DeveloperCompanion is sufficiently ready I decided not not fix the FirePHP Extension and thought I would upgrade users to DeveloperCompanion to ensure everyone can keep using FirePHP with Firebug 1.8.
Feedback from users
Then I started receiving feedback about this decision. Users were not happy that they were now required to install a commercial extension. I did not think that this would be a problem. In my view the free features DeveloperCompanion offers are superior to the ones offered by the FirePHP Extension (if you don’t think they are let me know so we can make it so) and since 2007 I have received only one patch for the FirePHP Extension. I thought users would not object to a closed-source extension for a while until FireConsole is ready.
There seem to be two groups of FirePHP users. One is looking for and needs the new features that FirePHP 1.0 brings and the other is happy with the simple approach of the FirePHPCore library and insist on the entire stack being open source at all times.
I have decided to continue to maintain the FirePHP Extension but it will not be upgraded to be compatible with the new FirePHP 1.0 Insight features. That means the FirePHP Extension will continue to support the FirePHPCore library only and implementations written to be protocol compatible such as the native Zend Framework implementation.
Users who want to use the FirePHP 1.0 Insight features with an open source extension will need to wait for FireConsole. Anyone who does not object to installing a free closed-source client can use the new FirePHP 1.0 Insight features today with DeveloperCompanion.
I trust that this will satisfy everyone’s needs. If not, please let me know.