Even though Microsoft itself would prefer to change this, many users still rely on older versions of Internet Explorer. For developers, this means spending hours on testing their web apps to ensure they work on IE8 and IE7, for example. Microsoft, which has worked hard on making IE9 and IE10 compatible with standards like HTML5 and CSS3, is fully aware of this problem and today launched modern.IE to “make it easier for developers to ensure their sites work beautifully across Internet Explorer as well as other modern browsers.”
Microsoft Launches Modern.IE To Help Developers Test Their Web Apps For Legacy And Modern Versions Of IE
As Microsoft general manager for Internet Explorer Ryan Gavin told me yesterday, modern.IE consists of a number of free tools and resources, including a scanner that checks for common problems that may make a site incompatible with modern and legacy versions of IE. The scanner, Gavin noted, checks a given page to find common compatibility problems with the libraries and frameworks the developer used. It then recommends fixes and provides developers with information about which version of a given framework like jQuery offers the best compatibility.
This, Microsoft found, is a surprisingly big problem. More than 40% of the top 5000 sites by traffic and volume currently use an outdated framework or library that may cause compatibility problems with the latest version of IE and other modern browsers. Microsoft also found that 20% of these top 5000 sites currently use vendor-specific prefixes (-moz, -ms, -webkit, etc.) that can cause compatibility problems. The majority of these sites also use browser detection and often serve up incompatible sites to IE9 and 10 because they don’t recognize that these new versions of IE aren’t exactly legacy browsers anymore.
In addition to the scanner, Microsoft will also work with developers directly when it detects site-specific issues that it doesn’t can’t disclose publicly through the scanner.
The site also features a set of 20 best practice tips authored by jQuery Foundation president Dave Methvin and Microsoft technical evangelist Rey Bango and Microsoft has partnered with Browserstack to offer all developers three months of free service for the next year, allowing them to easily see what their sites look like across a wide variety of browsers and operating systems. Developers can use their Facebook credentials to sign up for this service. There are also Chrome and Firefox plugins from Browserstack that allow you to quickly test a site with just a click and a set of virtual machine images for Mac, Windows and Linux that allow you to run back level versions of Windows and IE for local testing. It’s worth noting that Browserstack is a useful tool for any developer and developers can use it to test virtually any browser on any operating system.
As Gavin told me, the idea here is to make it easier for developer to test their sites and make sure they are compatible with legacy browsers. He acknowledged that the legacy versions of Internet Explorer – that is all of those published before IE9 – make life hard for web developers. Modern.IE, Gavin writes in a blog post today, ” is just another part of our continued commitment to help developers spend less time testing and more time building amazing sites.”