In this article we will take a look at browsers from a developer’s point of view. When developing for the Web, it is inevitable that we need to debug and test our work. How easy or how hard is it to find the problems causing errors, and how easy is it to replicate certain environment changes? Once we identify the steps we need to take to test properly, we will see if there is a chance to extend the browser to make these steps a lot easier.
Browsers as Test Platforms - Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (Page 2 of 6 )
Internet Explorer, IE or MSIE is still the most used browser in Windows environments. In comparison to the open source products, it is rather dusty and fails to comply with up-to-date Web standards. The thing that makes it very handy though, is that it ships with Windows - it is an integral part of it - and therefore is immediately at our beck and call (as it is loaded already in the boot-up process of Windows). It seems that IE was designed to please the user, and make it really easy for developers to do things wrong. In other words, IE will try to display anything and does not give much indication of something going wrong.
Debugging the HTML
In our example, we check the source code for problems and get Textpad as the editor when we choose “View Source” from the context menu. This non-color-coding editor will make it a bit hard to find errors, and we don’t get any indication where we went wrong. We have to rely on a better editor to check for errors, which can be quite annoying when the page is assembled from different includes.
Furthermore, there is no way to find our forgotten FORM element and unclosed TABLE unless we validate the page, or check it in a real editor.
If we double-click this error, IE comes up with the message:
If we look into line 11 char 6 of our dummypage.html, all we’ll find is </head>. In other words, the message is not very helpful, but we can choose to have it shown to us every time by selecting the checkbox on the message window.
This will give us a warning with the same cryptic message as above and allow us to start the MS Script debugger, should we have it installed.
For CSS, there is no such option. The accessibility dialogue, which can be found via Tools -> Internet Options and the button “Accessibility” on the “General” tab allows us to either overwrite the style with a user style sheet or turn off the font settings – our CSS layout remains intact though.
Even creating a blank style sheet and assigning that one doesn’t work. To turn off CSS, you need an extension that does so via the DOM or cut the link to the CSS file.
Testing how the page looks without images is easier. The advanced Tab in the Tools -> Internet Options sports and extensive Multimedia section which allows us to turn different media in the page on an off.
To change the font size in IE, we need to go to View -> Text size and select the one we’d like to have. Default is middle, and there are two levels shrinking the font sizes and two enlarging it.