Testing IE The Right Way

Saturday, May 10, 2014

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modern.IE test your website in internet explorer 6 though 11

Not to very long ago I wrote a similar article on this website, prior to the big change of course, in which I delved into the area which haunts almost all web developers; how best to test your sites against the various versions of Internet Explorer still lingering like malignant cancers in the wild.

Before, the worst of them all was Internet Explorer 6. Simply put, it was a broken piece of crap yet, with all of the people still using it, we often had to use conditional comments to serve one version of our website to one version of IE and another to another version of IE.  The headaches this would cause were excruciating, and often times made it seem we were developing three websites rather than one.

IE 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, uuuuugh how many do we have to deal with!  The good news though is that with the demise of Windows XP, versions 6, 7, and 8 are, for all intents and purposes, dead.  Yes, of course there are businesses out there who have had software built around antiquated operating systems and for whatever reasons, may still use 7 and 8, but those web surfers shouldn't really concern us.  Interesting enough, Internet Explorer 6, to this day, still accounts for  0.1 % of the IE versions being used...I can betchya it's only due to developers testing websites!

According to W3's browser statistics, Internet Explorer, as a whole, only accounts for 9.4 % of browser usage today, with Chrome taking the lead at 58.4 %.  Now, these statistics aren't full proof, but it does give you an idea of how IE's hold on web navigation has slipped considerably over the years; where once it was the go to browser (practically the only browser really) with only a few alternatives like Netscape available to the masses, people have caught onto the fact that Microsoft, as they have always done, did things their own way without adhering to the standards being brought forth by the design/development communities. 

Recently Microsoft has made a concerted effort to building a modern browser which enjoyed the same features and rendering as other modern browsers, especially in regards to support for emerging HTML5 and CSS 3 code. 

But here's the problem, how do we test against those versions which still exist? Or, for those OCD devs out there, even test against versions we really should not even have to worry about?  I mean, as for myself, I tested against as far back as 8 for this site and figured if there were folks on 7 or, god forbid, 6 there would be so few of them, they essentially would have no impact on generated sales or leads.

Previously, I would install different versions of Windows onto virtualization software, in this case, Oracle's VirtualBox, that's also how I also test for Linux and OSx on the same computer without having to switch from desktop to mac...just a note here: I also use mobile emulators as well to help in the development for mobile devices.  After installing the operating systems I would prevent certain updates to keep older versions of the browser....well, this was indeed a hassle to say the least.  The good news is that Microsoft knows how it's resented by the devopment community and has decided to make things...errrrr, easy? Yeah, I guess you could say that, it's about fuc*ing time!

They recently launched a site called modern.IE where you can go to and pick out various packages for the virtualization software of your choice such as, my favorite, VirtualBox (which runs on Windows, Mac and Linux), VMWare, Hyper-V (for windows server) and Virtual PC.

In my case, I chose Virtual Box as my virtualization software and from there I was offered downloads for variouos versions of Windows and the ability to test Internet Explorer 6 through 11.  I download the files for each to a specific directory, and when done, clicked on the executable. When the program was finished installing, all I had to do was launch VirtualBox and viola! There was the operating system, (Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8) with correct version of IE already waiting for me to be launched. 

The next thing I had to do was simply type in the IP address of my host computer, and access my apache server. Typing "localhost" won't work of course because you're inside a virtual instance of an operating system running within the virtualization software and not the computer I was actually working on. You'll have to Google a bit to find out how to obtain your host's IP address on the particular operating system you're working on, whether it be Windows, Mac or Linux.

May sound complicated, but it really isn't.  And I must comment, this is all assuming you have a LAMP server running on your computer. 

Step One: Install virtualization software, again VirtualBox for me is simply the best.

Step Two: Go to Modern.IE and pick out the appropriate downloads for your virtualization software.

Step Three: Save ALL the files as well as the executables and when finished downloading, click on the executables so as to let them do their thing.

Step Four: Open VirtualBox

Step Five: Start the recently installed Windows version.

Step Six: Open Internet Explorer within the new operating system, navigate to your localhost (the actual machine you're working on) and test your website to your heart's content!

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