Yesterday, we launched modern.IE, a new set of tools and resources to help developers test their sites for the over 50% of users who run various versions of Internet Explorer. modern.IE includes a wizard that scans a Web page URL for common interoperability problems and suggests some ideas for how to address those issues to improve the user experience across modern and older browsers. The site also offers 3 months of free cross-browser testing, through a partnership with BrowserStack. modern.IE provides new Chrome/Firefox add-ins and offline virtual machine images to help developers test their site regardless of what browser or platform they prefer to use. The modern.IE site, which we will update regularly, is another step forward in helping developers achieve the goal of interoperability through same markup. Through these efforts, we want developers to be able to spend more time innovating on the Web and less time testing.
Let’s start with the wizard. Our goal is to help developers spend less time testing for IE, and to help the community progress towards using same markup across browsers and platforms. The BETA version of the tool detects 10 common site coding problems that we knew we could help with. These fall into three main groups – issues caused by supporting older and modern versions of IE, problems supporting multiple platforms and browsers, and a few things that developers can start considering when it comes to delivering the best experience on Windows 8.
The wizard, which is based on a scanner that we have used within Microsoft for some time, is a BETA and we plan to enhance it regularly over the coming months, based on community input. For example, modern.IE now performs a static scan of the code on a Web site. While this has numerous performance benefits, it can yield incomplete results if a developer is using conditional code or browser detection. We welcome your ideas on how we can make testing your site in IE easier.
Although modern versions of Internet Explorer are automatically updated, the reality is that many users still use an older version of IE like IE8, IE7, and IE6. There are several options for setting up a test matrix including maintaining PCs with old versions of Windows and IE or managing a suite of virtualization images like the ones we have made available on the Microsoft Download Center. On modern.IE, we provide two options to help make browser testing easier, even if you are developing on another browser or another OS platform.
Cloud-based or “hosted” virtualization services take away some of the pain associated with managing old PCs or a suite of test images. With solutions like BrowserStack, you can perform visual testing of your site directly from your browser. If your test site is not publicly accessible via IP address or DNS lookup, you can take advantage of BrowserStack’s local server testing using Java based secure tunneling. We have also made available add-ins for both Chrome and Firefox to make testing on IE from within those browsers even easier.
As an example, here’s what the IE Blog looks like in IE7 on Windows XP:
The three month offer available through modern.IE includes BrowserStack’s Windows-based services, including most versions of IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera. The offer is good for a three month period once you sign up for the service on modern.IE. You can choose when to activate your three month period anytime over the next year.
We have also updated our test virtual machine images to include IE and Windows OS versions from IE6 through IE10. We provide images for the following virtualization platforms:
These are just the first of many updates we’ll be providing on modern.IE. We’re very interested in your feedback on the resource so far – let us know what you like, and what we’re missing!
— Sandeep Singhal, Group Program Manager, Internet Explorer