How to register an actor

Target-scoped actors vs. global actors

Target-scoped actors are the most common types of actors. That’s the type of actors you will most probably be adding.

Target-scoped actors target a document, this could be a tab in Firefox or a remote document in Firefox for Android.

Global actors however are for the rest, for things not related to any particular document but instead for things global to the whole Firefox/Chrome/Safari instance the toolbox is connected to (e.g. the preference actor).

The ActorRegistry.registerModule function

To register a target-scoped actor:

ActorRegistry.registerModule("devtools/server/actors/webconsole", {
  prefix: "console",
  constructor: "WebConsoleActor",
  type: { target: true }

To register a global actor:

ActorRegistry.registerModule("devtools/server/actors/preference", {
  prefix: "preference",
  constructor: "PreferenceActor",
  type: { global: true }

If you are adding a new built-in actor, you should be registering it using ActorRegistry.registerModule in addBrowserActors or addTargetScopedActors in /devtools/server/actors/utils/actor-registry.js.

A note about lazy registration

The ActorRegistry loads and creates all of the actors lazily to keep the initial memory usage down (which is extremely important on lower end devices).

It becomes especially important when debugging pages with e10s when there are more than one process, because that’s when we need to spawn a DevToolsServer per process (it may not be immediately obvious that the server in the main process is mostly only here for piping messages to the actors in the child process).