Test Your Site in IE with IETester

Oh, Internet Explorer. I dream one day you will be given corporeal existence, so that I may kill you.

In the mean time, however, sites still have to be designed to meet web standards and then hacked for IE. Refusal to do so invites a parade of IE-noobs (noobIEs?) to beat a path straight to your office door.*

This leads to several issues:

  • Although IE 7 has been out for coming up on 2 years, some users (who should be beaten) and some enterprise IT groups (who should be beaten and then shot) are sticking with 6. Which means you'll be getting a fair number of visits from both browsers. Vista's failure to impress anybody hasn't helped on this front.
  • IE 6 and IE 7 render web pages totally differently. And, in a genius move, IE 6 and IE 7 can't be installed on the same machine at the same time without a lot of seriously icky and (since Windows runs on the explorer shell) potentially dangerous hacking. Which makes testing your web site on both a royal pain.
I posted before about Browsershots, which will at least give you a snapshot of what your page looks like in various IE versions. The problems with it are (a) it has gotten popular enough to make it very time consuming, and (b) you only get a snap shot, so you don't get to test page events (i.e. panning a map, flaming logo, etc.).

Enter IETester. From the web site:

IETester is a free WebBrowser that allows you to have the rendering and javascript engines of IE8 beta 1, IE7 IE 6 and IE5.5 on Vista and XP, as well as the installed IE in the same process.

Basically it has isolated the various browser dll’s from each IE version, puts them in stand-alone folders, and loads them in separate MDI windows on request (I’m speculating here). So you can view and interact with your site in a number of different IE versions, including the new IE 8 beta.

IETester is a huge help for web developers. Though it only runs on Windows, at least you won’t be jockeying with a couple of virtual machines to see your site in various IE versions, which is what I had been doing previously (which followed some ugly dll hacking, which was in turn preceded by drinking). It isn’t open source, but the current Alpha release is free and usable.

*Believe me, I’ve tried it. I think some of those noobs had torches and pitchforks.