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Microsoft Announces SuperPreview for IE Browser Testing

Resources, Web Development | Mar 18, 2009

Browser testing is a hot and frustrating issue among web designers and developers alike. In most cases, developers design for one target browser and once they’re done, they start tweaking their design to make it compatible with other browsers.

There are many ways to test a website before launching, and these include having multiple browsers and operating systems installed, running virtual machines with different configurations or using a hosted image service where a screenshot is produced for a given browser version and operating system to be used for comparison purposes.

Starting today, there’s a new way for testing browser compatibility developed by Microsoft and it’s called SuperPreview. In this article, I’ll be giving you a brief review of SuperPreview as well as comparing and listing alternate systems for testing your website designs.

 

Overview

SuperPreview is a new free standalone application from Microsoft (still in beta) which enables you to see how your websites will look across different versions of Internet Explorer making migration from IE6 to 7 and 8 much easier than before, without have to start up a Virtual Machine to run IE6, or have a separate computer dedicated to running IE6. They’ll also be releasing a paid version which will handle the non-IE browsers. In this review, I’ll be discussing the free version only. I should mention that this is a very early preview release, so more features and fixes should be coming in the future.

 

Availability

The beta version of SuperPreview will be announced today at the Mix09 conference and will be available for free download to the general public shortly after that. [UPDATE] Software was released today prior to MIX09, and earlier than originally expected and is now available: Download Microsoft SuperPreview

I was approached by Microsoft to test an early beta version and I’ve been working with their development team over the past few days by giving them feedback and suggestions.

The release version of SuperPreview for Internet Explorer will be available in the summer of 2009.

There’s also a full version which includes support for Firefox and Safari. This is a PAID version which will be part of Expression Web 3. You will have the option to enable it from Expression Web or as a standalone. Estimated release date is also summer of 2009.

 

SuperPreview

SuperPreview is a pretty cool idea and it’s the first time that I’ve seen this kind of browser testing functionality available as a standalone application as opposed to a hosted service. You basically enter the URL (or local file) that you want to test and it shows you the preview in two versions of IE at the same time, in a split window. It comes with the IE6 rendering engine built-in and requires you to have IE7 or IE8 in order to compare them.

A major drawback is that, at this time at least, they have no concrete plans to release a Mac version, although this may be added in the future. I had to test this on my Mac using Parallels which produced a few bugs, such as slow response time and flickering on some of the loading screens. Also, the user interface is pretty unattractive and not very user friendly in my opinion, although they claim to be fixing this for the final release.

Also, there’s no hosted solution available yet, which would be especially useful for those of us on Macs who cannot install IE for testing purposes.

 

Key Features:

  • Pointer Modes: Allows you to click on individual page sections for comparison. The section’s HTML tag name, its class or ID name, size and position attributes are displayed in the status bar.
  • Image viewing: Compare Photoshop comp against the baseline browser to ensure that everything lines up in the browser to match your original design.
  • Dom Highlighting: You can highlight specific DOM elements to see which where there are alignment differences between the browsers. It displays the positions of  the rendered elements and their CSS properties.
  • Positioning Guides/Rulers: Use rulers to measure the layout differences between browsers. When you position a ruler in one browser window, the ruler in the second browser moves with it.
  • Layout views: View side-by-side either horizontally or vertically, or overlay mode.
  • Zoom: To select the level of magnification.
  • Multiple resolutions: Not yet available in this beta release, but will be included in future releases.
  • Thumbnail display: Previews a thumbnail at the bottom of each panel with a miniature map like view of the entire site so that you can quickly click on a different area of the page.

 

Examples:

The toolbar showing the different guides and rulers

toolbar


Guides and rulers with DOM highlighting show the differences in rendering in IE6 and IE7

overlay


Choosing local browsers, remote browsers or images (screenshot of full version with non-IE browser support)

multiplebrowsers


Pros:

  • No need to install IE6.
  • Side by side comparison and choice of layout views.
  • Can compare Photoshop comp against baseline browser.
  • Guides and rulers to measure positioning differences between browsers.
  • Overlay mode will show if there are many discrepancies.
  • DOM highlighting is useful to find and identify differences quickly.
  • Zoom capability.
  • Free for IE browser previews.
  • Displays PHP and ASPX pages (provided that you have PHP installed on your system).
  • Supports whatever the native browser supports, including Ajax and JavaScript.

Cons:

  • Currently it works with IE8 in IE7 emulation mode, which is apparently about 90% good. They’re working on making true built-in IE7 and IE8 rendering.
  • No version for Mac yet.
  • Resolution option not currently available in the beta version.
  • Free version only compares among different versions of Internet Explorer and paid version only compares among browsers that you have installed.
  • Unattractive UI and icons (at least in the beta version).
  • Overlay mode is confusing to identify which browser is which.
  • No hosted solution available yet.
  • No support for ActiveX (including Flash).
  • Cannot compare with Mac browsers.
  • Cannot click on links to navigate the site.
  • Slow refresh/loading time (at least running XP in Mac with Parallels).
  • Thumbnail preview is useless for very long web pages.

 

Other Testing Methods

A common method for testing a site (besides installing a number of browsers and operating systems) is to use a hosted service that takes screenshots of your web page as viewed in different browsers and operating systems. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

BrowserShots

Supports multiple browsers, Java, Flash, Javascript and screen resolutions. Easy to use and free.

browsershots


Browser Photo

Supports multiple browsers and versions as well as Windows, Mac and Linux. From 800×600 up to 1024×768. Price: $15 for one time use, or $150 per domain/year for unlimited use

browserphopto1


CrossBrowserTesting

Supports multiple browsers and operating systems. You pay per minute of usage. Requires Java. Free trial.

crossbrowsertesting


Browsercam

Supports any browser, any operating system. Includes JavaScript, DHTML forms and more dynamic functionality. Option for remote access and mobile page development. From $19.95 for one day usage for browser capture.

browsercam


BrowsrCamp

MAC OS X browser testing using screenshots. From 800 px resolution up to 1600. Free for Safari 3.1.2 screenshots. Paid service from $3 per day.

browsrcamp


NetRendered

Checks how a website is rendered by Internet Explorer 7, 6 or 5.5. Free.
netrednered


Litmus

Checks every browser and any platform and includes bug tracking. 50 test a month is free but only for IE7 and Firefox 2. 23 Browser support starts at $24 per day.
litmus

Finally, you could install multiple browsers, or use virtual machines for further testing.

 

Virtual Software:

Allows you to install multiple operating systems on the same computer

 

Further reading:

http://www.thesitewizard.com/webdesign/multiplebrowsers.shtml
http://css-discuss.incutio.com/?page=BrowserTesting


Disclaimer from WDD’s editor: This post is a personal review of SuperPreview. I was not compensated in any way by Microsoft or any other company for reviewing this product or the others. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.


Please post below what other systems you use for testing your website designs across different browsers and different versions.

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  • http://www.moraywebsolutions.com Gordon MWS

    I am surprised to see no mention of IETester in this article, it seems to carry most of the features of the ‘free’ version along with a few of the features noted as missing from microsoft’s offering. For all IETester does not support Java navigation and links work fine, and there is no need for a VM (if your already on windows that is).

  • http://www.apfelkuh.de/blog/ Manuel Graf

    Nice tool. But I EXPECTED this mainly for mac os or linux. If I am already using windows, then why installing an emulator for Internet Explorer?! Nice plan, but with them not producing it for other platforms, it’s kinda useless to many Web developers…

    so long,
    Manu

    • fanta

      because you cannot install difrferent versions of IE on windows in the same time, so to see your work on IE6 or IE7 you need this emulators/screenshots/virtual servers. this is what the article is about.

  • http://www.cloistre.com Cynthia Clinton

    I’m curious, before I download it and give it a go, how big of a footprint this software will have on my computer. Space is kind of at a premium & I’ve been trying to avoid hogs.

    Great article!

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      250 MB

      • http://www.iamfrankstallone.com Frank Stallone

        Space is kind of a premium? Spend $100 and you’ll never run out of space again… Buy.com has the Maxtor OneTouch 4 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive for $100 shipped. (3/30/09) I could see space being a premium back in the day *like a decade ago* but not anymore.

  • http://www.fireboydesign.co.uk FireboyDesign

    Surprised not to see MultipleIEs in there. Runs on Windows only but is very reliable for cross-browser testing, and allows installation of any combination of IE versions from 4-6. Pretty stable too! Link: http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE

    • Chris H

      MultipleIEs stable? What a joke! It crashed my comp the first day. IETester is truly the best solution thus far and leaves very little impact. It also has been updated with IE8 RC1, something I need to test to make sure that the transition will be smooth when everyone starts to download it, plus who cares about IE4.

    • http://anti-aol.livejournal.com Marah Marie

      Stable in and of itself? Yes, certainly. But as someone once told me: Watch out – it might cause DLL hell. My experience with it (I can’t say for sure without reinstalling MultipleIEs, which I don’t want to do) is that it might’ve made IE 8 Betas perform worse than they would have otherwise. It also made my native copy of IE 7 swap dlls with IE 6.

      If you’re trying to work out a style sheet for IE and you notice that IE 6 in MultipleIE’s displays your CSS just as well as IE 7 does then that is the DLL hell I’m talking about. I have IETester now and I’m afraid I’m seeing the same problem with IE 6 and IE 7 dll swaps. It doesn’t seem to be affecting my IE 8 install the way MultipleIEs might have, but dll swaps in the two earlier browsers are reason enough to think twice before you jump.

  • srilatha

    thank you for listing all cross browser testing sites :)

  • http://www.pushingbuttons.net Timothy

    This was ridiculously useful. Thanks a bunch!

  • http://www.marioluevanos.com Mario Luevanos

    I use multiple IE… nice one too. http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE

  • http://nikibrown.com/designoblog Niki Brown | The Design O’Blog

    I use netrenderer when I’m working on a mac that does not have windows installed through vmware fusion or bootcamp

  • http://www.michaeladesigns.com Michael Shelton

    @Manuel Graf Yea I was thinking the same as you on this as I began reading.

    To me this product could be beneficial if it becomes available for the MAC, but until then, sorry Microsoft, I still don’t like you, not that this product for MAC would be make me like you anyways :)

  • http://www.orangepeelinteractive.com Tim Kortsmit

    I agree with Gordon, IETester should really be mentioned in this article. Besides essentially doing exactly what the free version will do, it is also a solution for those running Vista in which multiple IEs will not work correctly.

  • http://jjeffryes.blogspot.com J. Jeffryes

    I tried MultipleIEs, it slowed my machine way down and lead to daily crashes.

    The best method I’ve tried so far is to install virtual machines with old browsers. Run FF and IE7 on your real machine, everything else VM, and you’re golden.

  • http://blog.wardelldesign.com Wardell

    IE tester is also a good app for multiple IE testing, I’ve even written about it here.

  • Matt

    The tag solves IE7/8 issues in existing sites built for IE7. But SuperPreview is necessary because IE6 is still in play, giving us 3 browsers to deal with. SuperPreview makes me think that MS has finally realized how badly they screwed up by maintaining the crappy uncusomizeable UI of IE7 in IE8, and they know they’ve doomed us to deal with IE6 users until IE9 comes out (or Firefox and Chrome put IE out of its misery).

  • http://ag.ca.gov Johnathan

    This is really the best resource I’ve found for browser testing.

    http://www.xenocode.com/browsers/

    • http://tarakana.net/ Marina

      Xenocode is definitely the best for testing on multiple browsers. I’m surprised that not many people know about it.

      No more need for lame, barely working versions of IE6 and FF2, Xenocode allows you to run REAL virtual browsers. You can test on any browser now!

      • http://www.deluxive.se Christopher Anderton

        Good idea. But does not work on Mac OS X.

  • Nat

    Let’s get over whining about who their target audience isn’t (Mac users) and realize how useful this will be for the intended audience. That it is coming from Microsoft means that it should render true IE6 pages whereas the others I have tried aren’t always correct. I for one am excited to use this for testing robust sites that reach a wide audience.

  • http://twitter.com/ptamaro ptamaro

    Great post and it’s nice to see that MSFT is *trying* at least. Maybe now we can spend more time creating valuable features rather than wasting so much time fixing IE6, IE7, and IE8 bugs and inconsistencies?

    That’s a hefty download — 250Mb’s feels like a MSFT product for sure — AND we need IE7/IE8 too for comparison (yes, “they’re working on adding the engines” I understand)… that feels like a MSFT product roll-out too. I’m on a Windows box right now so I’m obviously not an “Evil Empire hater” but c’mon isn’t this just more of the same?

    • mark

      It doesn’t fix IE6, IE7, and IE8 bugs and inconsistencies. It just shows them to you.

  • http://jamespfarrell.com James

    Another fan of IETester here. I’m installing super preview and will have to reserver judgement for now, though I’m intested to see how the side side will look.

    Already preferring IEtester’s 34 MB download over Super Preview’s 250 Mb download though :)

  • http://vanishdesign.com Austin Web Designer

    Good idea, but I’d be happier if they just made IE8 work right. I’ve never been too happy with IE Tester. It’s in beta and it shows.

  • http://spotmeon.blogspot.com Gaurav M

    ThanksSSSSSSSSS !!!

  • http://iridescence.no Fredrik

    “paid version only compares among browsers that you have installed”

    This is not correct – in the keynote, they said that SuperPreview will use cloud services to render the preview of the browsers you do not have installed locally. So for Safari for instance, it will actually go and get a preview from a Mac up in the cloud.

  • http://www.sanpark.com Recep Kütük

    This software is evil and that is all there is to it.

    The idea of having ie6 around for the summer of 2009 and on makes me really ill. The diagnosis is right on target, the disease is called ie6, yet nothing mentioned here is anyway near the real cure. On the contrary, MS is trying to encourage us fixing the problems they created in the first place.

    I mean, I really had high hopes for this year. With Vista getting better on service pack, promising specifications for ie8… But look at where we are. It is the year 2009 and ie6 is still around. Are we as a community, as designers, as developers, as educators, as innovators; that pathetic to be stuck with that excuse for a browser?

    Why do we still have to worry about that piece of junk? Now I know you will start throwing browser statistics at me. You will tell me about poor users on government departments without the ability of installing a different browser. Guess what, the numbers won’t change unless some people do something. Don’t you see your important role as being a part of those “some people”? Don’t you see your big responsibility in this “something” to do? You know, you are all aware of what is going on and what to do. Yet you can’t take the next step, you can’t say “I don’t design/develop for ie6″. Instead, you download that software, fix the parts of your design that sucks on ie6 and you will feed the monster with your own hands. Now, I have to do the same thing all thanks to you because it is a competitive market. I can’t drop ie6 support while there is a competitor supporting it.

    You know, we are almost sure that MS will keep making operating systems that will always have major faults, people won’t see a point in upgrading, the very people will have no idea about “what a browser is” and I am afraid we will be helping our grand children about dealing with ie6 box model crap.. But hey, at least it will be easier with SuperPreview!

    I am sorry, I had a nervous breakdown when I read the post and the comments.

    This software is evil. Period.

    • http://citizensheep.com Michael

      I have a lot of sympathy with this comment. My stomach churned when I read the post too: why encourage people to build for bad browsers? And if Microsoft hadn’t been so dismissive of standards in the first place they wouldn’t have needed to develop this.

      It’s time we built for browsers that support standards. Sure, test that pages at least work in other popular browsers, but we shouldn’t still be trying to make everything the same everywhere. Besides, as users now have so much control over their experience (eg with stylesheets and browser addons) that goal is impossible anyway.

  • http://www.h18.co.uk Matt Cooper

    Frankly, this begs the question “Why don’t Microsuck just bring their browser in line with everyone else instead of using the shitness of IE to try to profit out of new software?”

    In my experience, developers create sites to work in a standards-based browser like Chrome or Firefox and then spend days hacking the CSS for IE. This is so typical of Microsuck and will probably be released with a plethora of bugs like everything else they release seems to be.

    /rant

  • http://fvsch.com Florent V.

    Looks like a nice tool — once it’s finished and IE7 (at least) and IE8 (if possible) rendering engines are built-in.

    As others, it’s surprising that IETester, Multiple IE and Xenocode’s virtual browsers were not mentioned. There are more concrete alternatives to this Microsoft app than Browsershot & co. I would have mentioned those three plus Litmus, and not much more.

    For those who wonder why such tools are necessary: as the article explains, browser testing is hard. And, well, you have to do it if you’re building a website professionally.

    The biggest pain with browser testing is… the different versions Internet Explorer. Right now, if you’re a conscientious professional, you have to test for three versions: IE6 (around 20% of users), IE7 (around 50%), and IE8 (just around the corner). AND, IE is tied into the OS in a way that prevents you from installing multiple versions on the same system.

    So you have to use specific apps, web services, virtualized systems, well you have to use something.

    That Microsoft is offering such a tool is good news. Period.

  • iniquity

    IE6 is around because it came preinstalled on XP machines. We won’t see it go away until those machines are physically replaced. Period. No “we don’t develop for IE6″ movement is going to change that. So as developers, making sure a site works in IE6 is of pinnacle importance.

    The target audience isn’t Mac users without IE on their machines. Its Windows users using VMs or dedicated secondary machines to have three different versions of IE to test with.

    Hard Dive space is at a premium? How do you figure? Hard drives are running 10 cents a gig right now. The 250MB install costs you 2.5 cents of hard drive space.

  • steve

    Automatic updates should make IE7 a critical update. As should IE8 be since it is a huge leap forward. IE6 should be killed off by MS themselves.

    Of course the problem is mainly, in my opinion, in industry where IT peeps do not deploy anything further than IE6 but I have no idea why as its a security nightmare. I work in a large company with 100s of machines and our tech guys still deploy IE6. We still work on 32bit WinXP Pro, even to the point where new 64bit machines with more than 3gig of RAM are having WinXP installed eventhough it cannot use the available hardware just because this is policy (and laziness?)! I think this is where Recep Kütük is coming from. The people in the the position to change the situation, allow IE6’s continued existence for some reason and this should stop, hence removing alot of pain and strife from the web development community as a whole (while benefiting the consumer too).

    Anyway, if nothing is going to change then anything to help develop cross browser sites is welcome I suppose! Just in an ideal and non existant world everyone would just be consistent and solve the problems at their source rather than provide tools to hack over those problems..

    • Fabien

      I can understand the relunctance to part from Windows XP 32 bit. XP x84 is a different beast, so unless you really have a need for more than 3 GB RAM, you probably don’t want to mess with it. And if you only have 4 GB RAM on your machine, the small difference ain’t worth it.

      Also, AFAIK, Windows 7 isn’t ready for deployment yet, so there’s no serious alternative to XP.

      Replacing IE6 with IE7 or IE8 is a huge modification of the system, so it’s no something I’d do if I can avoid it.

      OTOH, installing a real browser (Firefox, Chromium, Opera, Lynx — uh, scratch that) is fairly easy, and does not modify the system. So yeah, not doing it is pretty much pure lazyness.

  • Jason

    I wonder how long it will be before Apple provide similar testing tools for Windows users…

  • http://little.ie sheena

    Check out https://secure.xenocode.com/

    Perfect for testing in all major browsers!! No need to install anything!

  • http://www.hollisbartlett.com HHB

    Meh, I really don’t see the big deal. Dealing with IE6 isn’t all that hard. Make your sites standards compliant, use strict mode so you don’t trigger the quirks, don’t get hung up on making the site look exactly the same in all browsers. As long as it isn’t actually broken looking in IE6 and looks exactly how you want in standards compliant browsers, you’re good. In fact, it’s not even a big deal to use transparent pngs anymore in IE6.

    The fact is, IE6 is *still shipping* with some brand new computers – the ones that get XP instead of Vista. Many corporate PCs come with XP, and the version they get comes with IE6. I ordered one of those Dell Mini’s last year with XP, it came with IE6 too. Yes, it’s no problem to upgrade or install a better browser, but in reality many end users aren’t even aware there’s any difference, and many are scared to upgrade. Until Microsoft puts some marketing into upgrading, IE6 isn’t going anywhere for a long time.

    As for this software, I’ve also been using IETester for a while now (on Vista no less) with no problems, don’t really see the need for a 250MB download to do exactly the same thing. I can even test IE5.5 with it too, although I don’t ever bother. I figure if you have IE5.5 on your computer, you’re used to seeing broken websites ;-).

  • http://www.ronaldwidha.net/askbobo Ronald Widha

    Oh this is awesome. Downloading it now!

  • http://tulett.homelinux.com Nick Tulett

    How is this (or any of the sites listed) a tool? Isn’t a tool something that does useful work?

    You run it and it shows you that your website looks different in different browsers. Big whoop – I knew that already. WHY does it look different – because it hit one of the many, many inconsistencies listed at quirksmode, et al.

    Write your code with these rules in mind, or – if you must – write your bad code then use static analysis to pick out where you’ve broken the rules. Please, please do not write your code, render it 15 different ways and then wonder why they don’t all look the same. How does that help anyone?

  • http://www.pixelfloat.com Pixelfloat

    Hi

    I did install multiple IE, IE tab for Firefox, and other add-ons. But I was not fully happy with these methods to test websites Internet Explorer.

    Few months back, installed MS Virtual PC for running XP & IE6 (on my Vista Business Lap).

    That really solved all of the IE testing issues.

    Thanks

  • http://www.productivedreams.com Gopal Raju

    Nice but not useful for MAC users :(

    Gopal Raju
    productivedreams.com
    twitter.com/gopalraju

  • http://www.zigpress.com/ Andy Towler

    IETester FTW. The article really should include it.

  • http://www.gicelamorales.com Gicela

    I’d like to see rendering of all versions of IE on different operating systems though. I’ll be giving it a try.

  • initrode

    @iniquity: people like you are the problem, not IE6. If more people would ditch IE6, then trolls like you wouldn’t exist anymore. Give it a rest, testing on IE6 is basically useless outside of maintaining niche products that only run on an Intranet.

  • http://www.jewelerslounge.com James Matthews

    Great! Microsoft is seeing that Google is too strong and moving to be more open.

  • Rob

    It’s so sad we need a tool just to figure out what the heck IE is doing now. Sure, you have to check in all browsers but, as we can see, IE versions are 50% of all those browsers to check in. Now that I think of it, IE takes up 50% of my workload. If IE would just do something right, I could work a 20-hour week.

  • http://sydney.indymedia.org.au eatme

    On linux you can install ie6 and 7 in wine, don’t think safari and ie8 will run yet, but i rarely need to do much work to get safari running so that’s no biggie.

    the app is a nice idea, but its only needed because MS created the problem!

  • http://www.impearlia.com Impearlia

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

    http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage

  • 3mta3

    There is a general school of thought that by coding to accommodate Microsoft’s older browsers, developers are just making it easier for people to hang on to non-WC3 compliant browsers for no good reason. This software from Microsoft, is pretty elaborate evidence that they (MS) still don’t really get it – coding to an established display standard is the only thing that matters for site developers when it comes to the browser – and Microsoft cannot set those standards (clearly). It would be better if they put more effort into getting rid of all these old-browser versions; or a better job of educating their massive customer base about why browser upgrades are important.

    Developing browsers that comply to actual display standards, is the task of browser developers – “tweaking” your code to suit the eccentricities of browsers, is ultimately a waste of time (although, certainly to keep your clients happy you do have to do it, so it is a vicious circle). But ff code is continually developed to accommodate or work-around the inconsistencies of IE6 or IE7… or any browser for that matter… the whole point of a display layer code standard is undermined. Bottom line – content developers/designers ultimately drive what browsers need to accommodate, not the other way around. Designers made Flash pretty much mandatory simply by using it – not by coming up with elaborate alternatives to accommodate people without the plugin. CSS could be viewed in a similar way – if your browser does a poor job of rendering CSS; then use a better browser – advocate a better browser, and accept that people with out-of-date browsers will see the web in a way that was not intended by the content creator.

  • http://positioniseverything.net/ Big John

    This is the current state of the art in IE version testing for the PC:

    http://finalbuilds.edskes.net/iecollection.htm

  • http://www.sanpark.com Recep Kütük

    @iniquity:

    “IE6 is around because it came preinstalled on XP machines. We won’t see it go away until those machines are physically replaced. Period. No “we don’t develop for IE6″ movement is going to change that.”

    Too good fellow colleagues in Norway beg to differ:
    http://www.google.com.tr/search?q=ie6+norway

  • http://www.sanpark.com Recep Kütük

    And a quick update which couldn’t make it to the comment above, about the results of the action taken in Norway:

    http://labs.finn.no/sites/default/files/u3/image/Nettlesere%20per%20200902%20600.jpg

    I hope those statistics can finally encourage the people who are “building a website professionally” to take the big step sooner and show the world that we really can make a change as a community, just by spreading the word..

  • firecall

    Cool.

    Actually this article has been more useful for the links to the other tools!

    Anyways, SuperPreview just crashes on launch for me – so it’s unusable beta at the moment :/

  • http://www.iamfrankstallone.com Frank Stallone

    In a cooperate environment where IE6 is installed because of software that requires it or IT does not wish to upgrade this nor IETester is valuable. Both (and correct me if I am wrong) require one to have IE7 or IE8 installed to work properly… Well what if you can not install IE7 or IE8? (Searching through comments for another solution)

  • http://nataliemac.com NatalieMac

    Just wanted to be another voice in support of IETester. I tried MultipleIEs and found it incredibly unstable and hard to use. IETester, though still in Alpha is pretty amazing and shows a lot of promise. I rarely have trouble with it – it crashes once in a great while and that’s about the extent of the ‘alpha’ issues.

  • http://www.jamessnape.me.uk James Snape

    Superpreview will eventually support FireFox and Safari. The latter via a cloud service – more info at: http://blogs.msdn.com/xweb/archive/2009/03/18/superpreview-for-internet-explorer.aspx.

    Quote—

    2. How do I get Firefox and Safari to show up in SuperPreview?

    Expression Web SuperPreview for Internet Explorer only supports Internet Explorer. Expression Web 3 includes SuperPreview with support for Firefox and Internet Explorer. Safari for the Mac will be supported with our cloud service to be made available sometime after Expression Web 3 is released.

    3. Is there any more information available about the SuperPreview cloud service?

    The cloud service will be made available sometime after Expression Web 3 is released. The cloud service will support Safari for the Mac. At this time we have not announced our plans for other browsers and platforms on the cloud service.

  • http://bicnet.org Ryan Ternier

    This software rocks! I’m amazed at some of you complaining that joe blow out there is still using IE6. People are still driving 1950 GMC Trucks. They’re still using freezers built in the 1940’s. Ie6 Works for many people. Many of our customers can’t upgrade from IE6 because for what they need – It works and upgrading only causes problems and increases cost in training for online apps that would change.

    If you’re a web developer, it’s your job to ensure that your customers can see what you’re doing. If 50% of your customers use Ie6, don’t bitch about it, just get the job done.

    on a side note – thanks for the great article. It’s exactly what I was looking for.

  • Ed DeGagne

    This is the tool everyone should be talking about.

    IECollection
    http://finalbuilds.edskes.net/iecollection.htm

    Conditional comments work correctly as well, something that does not work properly in MultipleIE or the version of SuperPreview I tested.

  • Matt

    Just downloaded this – run it and got the blue screen… It just crashes my machine every time. Has anyone had the same problem?

    @ Anyone against this software
    I understand the dilemma that we all face and I am all for promoting better browsers, it’s the way forward; however, you will not hear an intelligent designer say – “sod the majority; they’ll have to figure out how to view it properly!” That’s just passing on the problem to people who ‘really’ don’t deserve to suffer the consequences of poor development. Going to my boss and saying, “Well, it looks great in everything apart from IE6”, is just not acceptable. If you can get away with it with your clients then more power to you but you cannot expect designers who are trying to make some money to develop sub-standard designs in spite of Microsoft. It’s a childish, lazy and selfish approach and actually makes life more difficult for the only people that matter in this whole situation – the audience. If you forget that fundamental basic of web design then you should consider a career change. The problem is here for now – deal with it.

    This tool sounds like a great idea for all of us that want to develop websites ‘in the real world’, if it would work for me.

  • http://www.allbuttons.com CSS Menus

    Thanks , going to download it and give it a try. We develop CSS menus and have a hard time to make it compatible across all browsers

  • http://www.jenworks.com/ Jennifer

    I’m on a Mac and have IE6 installed on a virtual machine. I used to use Browser Shots but it’s so slow and then I found Browser Lab by Adobe https://browserlab.adobe.com/ and I love it. It doesn’t have as many features as SuperPreview but you don’t need to install anything since it’s all browser based. You can view your website transparently superimposed over another browser’s version. Currently shows IE7 and Firefox for Windows and Firefox and Safari for Mac. Could have a bigger selection like IE6 and such but it’s decent.

    IE6 just really needs to be phase out completely… someday!

    • Cole

      Hey Jennifer, you can add IE6 to the browserlab list, along with Chrome. Just click on “All browsers” and load ‘em up. It has been very useful for me over the last month. I run WinXP on my MacBookPro but it’s so much easier to get the quick snapshot and see whether anything is out of whack in a layout.

      The main note is that all of the Win versions say WinXP. I don’t know if they render differently in Vista of Win7 on the same browsers. But so far, the views available have proved correct when viewed under the actual browsers and OS.

  • http://www.browserseal.com Vasya

    There is a new web browser screenshot application (www.browserseal.com) that you may find useful which is not limited to IE. It currently supports FF, IE and Safari. It is still in beta, so more features and new browsers will be added in the new future.

    Fully functional free beta version is available for download from http://www.browserseal.com

  • http://jamespfarrell.com James

    What gives, super preview was usefull before as it installed 3 versions of IE in my start menu. Now I just get this microsoft expression web app, that compares side by side. I can’t even navigate a site???

    • http://www.browserseal.com Vasya

      Try IE collection

  • http://www.dragonflyway.com DragonflyWay

    Multiple IE worked great with Windows XP for some, but as mentioned, it is known for its instability. It does not, however, work at all with Windows Vista.

    IETester allows you to views IE5.5 through IE8 and lets you navigate like you’re in a real browser, it crashes randomly when you’re not even using it though.

    netrenderer merely gives you a screen shot, which means you can’t test anything and doesn’t allow you to scroll through a whole page, it only takes a shot of what’s visible on the screen of the server producing the shot.

    The Microsoft Virtual machines are not available for all versions of Vista, leaving some of us S.O.L.

    So far IETester is the only practical solution I have found for my version of Vista, it’s just a shame that it’s so unstable.

    This SuperPreview seemed really great until I read the cons – what use is it if you can’t navigate your page? No support for Flash? Count on MS to provide a half-assed solution to a problem they caused. You’d think they’d be more involved in making a tool available to ensure web developers can continue to provide sites that function in IE so that people continue to use their crappy product, but then, this is MS we’re talking about…

    Why would anyone pay for something to show a site in a browser that is already installed?

  • http://www.browserseal.com Vasya

    What about IE collection ? I heard numerous times that it is better than Multiple IE and it should work with Vista.

    • http://www.dragonflyway.com DragonflyWay

      Thanks! I’ve spent countless hours trying to find solutions, I never came across IE Collection before. It looks promising, I will definitely check it out and test it on Windows 7.

  • http://www.sixfoot.co.za James

    This is the most useless tool. Why MS decided to waist their time developing this tool is beyond me. It’s not even CLOSE to what Firbug offers Firefox!

    In my opinion, people should just join the big companies begin phasing out their support for IE6 altogether!

    It is a COMPLETE waist of time to every developer spending hours to fix a browser’s bugs which is so dated it’s not worth the time any more!

  • Ed

    James,

    Unfortunately, you don’t get to make that call. Most corporate projects “still” have an IE6 requirement for the time being.

    IE6 phase out is happening, just not quick enough, IMO.

  • Dan

    They should phase out 7 aswell.

    BTW, I tried adobe’s browserlab but couldn’t get it work.

  • http://aspnetmvc.info Jack

    expression web is great!, here is another topic: http://jack-fx.com/csharp/post/expression-web-superpreview.htm

  • Teena

    IETester is also cool for IE 6,7,8….

  • James

    Do a search on the web and see what guys are doing to help people move away from ie6.

    Here’s a few links:

    http://www.stopie6.com
    http://www.shlomifish.org/no-ie
    http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/stop-ie6-campaign
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/save-the-developers-stop-using-internet-explorer-6
    http://www.ie6nomore.com
    http://www.bringdownie6.com

    Even CNN has an article on this:
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/08/06/internet.explorer.six/index.html

    The problem I find is that most of these sites do not come with some kind of solution.

    Ed, I here what you are saying that it is the corporates who make the change unbearably slow. But I figure that if enough designer and developers got together, they could encourage the use of FF.

    I have been running with an idea for some time now and yet to make it work. It would be a site called DFIE.org (pronounced Defy). “Developers For Internet Expectations” Pretty much defying IE and their non adherence to internet standards.

    The problem is that most corporates wont allow you to install other software but a solution to this could be in two parts.

    1. Use a conditional CSS IE6 style sheet which would bring up a modal window, telling the user it’s time to upgrade. They can close the window but with a warning that the site may not display correctly in a non standards browser.

    2. The plugin code for the modal window could sit on DFIE.org which designers and developers can grab to add to their site.

    3. A way to curb the installation of software would be to run Firefox Portable which the user can thendownload from PortableApps.com which would be a link on the modal window for them to download.

    I am open to suggestions but frankly, IE6 waists a lot of my time. I would still consider it if at least SuperPreview did a better job. Honestly, is that the best Microsoft could have come up with?

    Compared to Firebug!?

    • James

      The problem is that most corporates wont allow you to install other software but a solution to this could be in 3 parts…

      ;)

    • Matt

      So many people seem to be missing the point here. So I’ll reiterate for those who have not read previous posts… Consider some of the older generation, like my mum, they have no idea about browsers, what they are or necessarily do – all they know is, to click that icon on the desktop and they’re on the internet. They haven’t the slightest idea that IE7, IE8 or FireFox exists or more to the point how to update it because you haven’t taken the correct measures still needed to ensure your website looks correct in all browsers. I can tell you now, because I’ve seen it, all that user does is navigate back and go somewhere else!! SHOWSTOPPER !!If I wanted a website designed for my own business I would want to make sure that this does not happen – yes it’s a pain, yes this monstrosity of a web browser should never have been brought to the modern world and yes it should go… Fact is – it aint! It’s still there, it’ll still be there in years to come and YOUR potential customers COULD be using it. Do you want to run the risk?All we can do is reduce the pain, so stop complaining about software trying to help out responsible web developers looking after their audience.

    • http://www.sixfoot.co.za James
  • http://www.e-glue.net James Melvin

    The best option can probally never come from MS. I have found that has best of breed when it comes to real world browser testing is http://www.multibrowserviewer.com.

    It has 16 browsers in 1 install and allows screen shots from 45 different os and browser combinations. Covers my needs

  • http://www.browserseal.com BrowserSeal

    We just released another version which adds Google Chrome and Opera support. Prices are an order of magnitude lower than any competing service.

    http://www.browserseal.com

  • http://www.chotrul.com/ Mark Carter

    IE Tester is *way* better than this .. and has been around for quite a time now … forget about multiple IE’s … IE Tester is really worth checking out if you are not familiar with it ….

    • http://www.browserseal.com BrowserSeal

      Is it because IE tester is slow or because it cannot handle pages with scrollbars ?

  • http://www.dragonflyway.com Dragonflyway

    I have been using IE Tester for quite some time now, thanks to the input from this discussion. As a web developer, I completely fail to see how a program that merely gives you a screen-shot is at all useful – you need to move a mouse around and click on things to know if something is working or not (like roll-overs, drop-down menus, etc.) IE Tester is the way to go, hands down.

    Though, it is a bit flaky with Vista, it seems to work beautifully with Windows 7.

  • http://www.makeapost.co.uk Twitter Video Blog

    Nice tool but I rather expected this to be for mac os or linux!

  • http://ishouvik.co.tv Shouvik Mukherjee

    Oh, I love this!
    Previously, I had to call my friend up and ask him to check my website from IE6 as I’m running on IE7.

  • http://www.newstreamdesign.com LN

    I used to love IEtester, bit that was until an hour ago. Spent a lot of time making things look and work nicely in IE6 – looked great in IEtester, but then my mate showed me his computer (which has native IE6 installed), and it was a mess. The transparent PNGs which showed perfectly in IEtester were back to the old “grey” background in the real thing (yes, I use DD_belated.js which is awesome) and even the layout had issues in the real thing… Back to the old drawing board. Gonna try the IEcollection thing now. IEtester has let me down unfortunately. Boo!

    • http://www.newstreamdesign.com LN

      I take that back! IEtester is still good. My friend’s IE6 had some settings turned off. After restoring the defaults, it looked perfect! My bad…

  • http://www.freemicrosoftpointsnow.com MS

    Consider some of the older generation, like my mother, they have no idea about browsers, they are not necessarily to do – all they know is to click on this icon office and are on the Internet. They have no idea that IE7, IE8 and Firefox are more precisely how to update it because you have not taken effective measures still needed to ensure that your site displays correctly in all browsers. I can tell you now, because I’ve seen everything that the user simply navigate back and go elsewhere!

  • http://ultimategamecard.blogspot.com/ Ultimate Game Card

    Yeah, this was useful. I haven’t heard of SuperPreview up until I read this, actually. Great review and post, thanks.

  • https://portal.ust-global.com/default.aspx P.Srikanth

    How do i compare the web application page after login:?

    We have verified the tool and have identified that Home page only can be tested. The reason is that You have to copy and paste the URL in the tool and compare the page.

    Please let me the how do i proceed further?

  • SS

    FYI:

    SuperPreview does not support “whatever the native browser supports, including Ajax and JavaScript”!

    From the horse’s mouth:
    “Layout changes triggered by asynchronous JavaScript or other Ajax content may not render in SuperPreview.”

    http://www.microsoft.com/expression/products/Web_ReleaseNotes.aspx#3

    …which renders (no pun intended) the tool useless for my project anyway…