Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has not exactly been the web developer’s friend in years past, with quirks aplenty and “standards” all its own. But the IE team has improved the situation considerably with its latest releases, and the step it’s taking today might just make up for some of that bad karma from years ago.

The company this morning launched a new site called Modern.IE that houses a set of online tools designed to help developers to test their sites.

The site include a webpage scanning tool that finds common compatibility problems and suggests fixes for supporting older versions of IE, and also for compatibility with other browsers. This being a Microsoft service, the tool also offers suggestions for using features of Windows 8 such as a Start screen tile and touch browsing.

The site also offers virtualized testing for different browsers and operating systems, via a three-month free subscription to the BrowserStack testing tool. Modern.IE is also launching with development and testing tips from Dave Methvin, president of the jQuery Foundation; and Microsoft technical evangelist Rey Bango.

Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin said the site arose from the belief that developers are still spending too much time trying to get their sites to work across browsers, which takes away from the time they have to innovate and push the web forward.

“We certainly know that IE’s past has played a role in making developers’ lives not as easy as we could,” he said, calling this part of the company’s overall effort to improve the situation. He said Microsoft will be taking feedback from developers and improving the tool over time.

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  • Forrest Corbett

    The biggest thing MS could do to help developers is to stop releasing new major versions (or at least versions that don’t auto-update.) Instead, they’ve made the biggest problem even worse by releasing two versions of IE10 in Win8. I’ve done a lot of testing between the two, and they often do not work the same. This makes supporting IE more difficult.

    We often have to write code to target specific versions of IE, and one of the most common ways to do that – conditional comments – has been killed off in IE10.

    While I’m glad to see better CSS3 support, it really should have just been a point release update to IE9. Their tips like “Sites don’t need to render the same across all browsers” are really sad to see. As web standards advance and browsers catch up, I can understand that. But when latest browser doesn’t support standards and the rest have (for years), that’s like saying “The blue screen of death is good to have because it’s a good reminder to take a break.”

    Another example is on one page the site says “Fully prefix vendor-specific CSS properties to future-proof them.” However, Firefox for example, is slowly removing the use of prefixes. If you add them, the code will break. With CSS, almost everything works the same between Chrome and Firefox, or at least very close. IE not so much. They would be better off trying to match the others than building a site and proclaiming differences are a good thing. The fact IE9 can’t have rounded corners on an element with a gradient is _not_ a good thing.

    • guest

      Stop releasing new major versions isn’t a realistic option. And many enterprises are resistant to auto-update. You managed to pen four paragraphs of criticism, some of which I agree with but all of which should be directed to the IE group directly, w/o even acknowledging any benefit from the effort that is the topic of this story.

      • Forrest Corbett

        Chrome auto-updates for consumers, while allowing enterprise to control updates. IE could do the same. And the problems with the suggestions on the site (which is the topic of this article) most certainly are an issue with this specific effort.

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