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Opera Dragonfly is here, and as expected it is a new set of tools to help developers create functional websites. It’s obvious that the Opera team wanted to develop something to draw developers to their browser, much like how Firebug has become an irreplaceable tool for the developers that use Firefox. The real question is whether Dragonfly is the tool we’ve been longing for?

I was pretty pumped when I went to try it out in the latest snapshot build of Opera 9.5, and didn’t know quite what to expect. It turns out that Dragonfly (currently Alpha) is pretty much written entirely in JavaScript, and so the performance wasn’t the greatest. This also means that you must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to even start Dragonfly.

To get started with Dragonfly go to Tools -> Advanced -> Developer Tools and a new window should popup. The first time you load the tools it might take a little while since it has to download the necessary files onto your machine, but each subsequent launch should be much faster. Well, that is until you clear your browser’s cache which will also wipe out Dragonfly, and the files will once again be downloaded the next time you launch the developer tools.

In terms of functionality Dragonfly is decent, but doesn’t quite stack up to what Firebug can deliver. In Dragonfly you can do things like set breakpoints that make debugging JavaScript code a lot easier, but since it all operates in another window I found it to be a pain to use. Firebug, on the other hand, will display itself immediately below the website you’re trying to debug. From what I gather support for something like this is coming in a future version of Dragonfly.

Here is the documentation on using the JavaScript debugger, DOM/CSS inspector, and more in Dragonfly. I’m interested in hearing what everyone thinks of it, but I don’t see it pulling me away from Firebug anytime soon. I guess this is an Alpha release, and maybe they have some tricks up their sleeve?