IE 7 - Find Bugs Before Your Users Do!

If you're an English-speaking XP user then IE 7 is now "gold" and out of beta testing.

As a developer it's your duty to get yourself a copy and test your sites in it to see if you're ready.

Unlike previous releases, version 7 is to be shipped to users via Windows automatic update. When this starts happening you can expect a steady trickle of complaints from users if your sites aren't fixed by then.

As a developer I plan to keep my main development PC on IE 6 for a while. To do this I am going to tell it not to allow the auto-update to IE7. Instead I'll install version 7 in Parallels and test there. At some point I'll switch that round and develop in 7, while testing in 6.

Anyway. Onwards and upwards. IE 7 is a massive step in the right direction and feels like a really solid browser to me. Hopefully soon we won't need to worry about IE5.5 any longer.

Remember. Find the bugs before your users do!


    • avatar
    • Patrick Ryan
    • Thu 19 Oct 2006 04:25 AM

    I've been testing compatibility with IE7 beta on various sites for the past year. All I can say is that, while IE7 is an improvement on earlier versions, there are still CSS bugs.

    I don't pull my hair out over such things any more, however, since I discovered conditional comments. They are a fantastic way to isolate your IE hacks and keep your stylesheets clean.

    I develop in Firefox. Test in Opera and Safari and, finally, get things working in all the different versions of IE.

  1. Do you know a way to install IE 6 and IE 7 on the same machine (without virtual machines), like it was possible for IE 5.5 and IE 6?

    • avatar
    • Patrick Ryan
    • Thu 19 Oct 2006 04:31 AM

    With IE7 you can either install it as your main browser and run IE6 as a standalone, or run IE7 as a standalone. Running IE7 as a standalone requires a different technique - see Jon Galloway's blog {Link}

    If you want to read an article that covers earlier IE standalones fully, see ‘Taming Your Multiple IE Standalones’ by Manfred Staudinger at {Link}

    Each IE version is available in a separate installation package. These can be found at {Link}

  2. So Microsoft is not shipping IE7 as an automatic update after all? We already encounter lots of difficulties at our customer: when IE7 is installed, our WCMS is no longer functioning. So we had to block the installation of IE7 at the office... but a lot of people work with that WCMS from home... and a lot of them have already installed IE7...

    Also: I'm developing HTML, JavaScript and CSS for a next site rework, I have to test it... but I can't test, unless I get an additional computer or a virtual machine... When will Microsoft come with a solution where web developers can test different IE versions on the same OS?

  3. Thomas, when I remember right (after all, this is more than 5 years ago ...), the parallel installation of IE 5.5 and 6 was a bit of a fake. The rendering engine was updated anyway, I think.

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Thu 19 Oct 2006 07:58 AM

    I'm with Fabian in not trusting these parallel installs of multiple IEs. Something just doesn't feel right about it. To me, if you want to test in an environment, say IE5.5, you need to test actually in that setup.

  4. Michel, you have till Nov 1st to implement the automatic update blocking, details of how to do that are available on the MS site.

    After Nov 1st IE7 will be pushed down via the automatic updates as a critical update.

  5. Where exactly in that blog (or anywhere) does it say that it's being shipped as an auto-update? (Not that I don't believe you; I just need something solid from MS to provide our admins as proof.)

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Thu 19 Oct 2006 10:26 AM

    Remember Esther - Google is your friend "ie 7 auto update" -> {Link}

  6. Sounds like I need to take a day and do some serious testing. Already found the css is broken on one of our sites.

    btw, I recently blogged about Qemu, a free x86 cpu emulator. I have used it to run linux on windows but you should be able to boot any ISO. It lets you create HD images like any other virtual machine so you can install whatever and build it and fire it up as needed. Might be useful to make a small VM stable of various configs (OS + browsers)... and it's free.

    For Linux: {Link}

    On Windows: {Link}

  7. Thanks, Declan. I found a solution to emulate IE6 at: {Link}

    It tweaks the registry.

  8. Michel, read carefully, what those registry tweaks do: they just change the user agent string.

    I would almost go as far to say, that good web applications never rely on that. Don't code for a specific browser, but for features.

    Of course, no matter what you code, the platform of your choice might still (ab-)use the user agent string when generating its response to the brwoser. At least Domino is wanna-be-smart enough, to do that. E.g., if your browser claims to be a current IE version, Domino generates DHTML for sections. If not, you get either a worthless triangle graphic (in edit mode) or regular round-trip-to-the-server-link (read mode).

    Providing us with a fabulous example for why this is generally evel: Have Firefox identify itself as IE, and the code Domino normally serves to IE only works like a charm.

    Any other aspects of the browser - from CSS interpretation to basic HTML rendering behaviour - cannot be altered that easily.

  9. Making IE7 identify itself as IE6 was in this case just what I needed: I had to have IE7 to check my work but the WCMS we have to use does a hardcoded check for browser version: only IE5.5 and IE6. It just stopped working as I explained in my post {Link} :-).

    Lesson: never check for browser identification, but for the existence of functionality, e.g. :

    if(!document.getElementById)alert('sorry, no ajax today')

  10. It's certainly more a "users experience" release than a developer one....

    Unfortunately, I found that IE7 is compatible with IE6 : "min-width" is still not supported whouhhahaha.

    As someone said : IE slow the web... will it stop ?

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Sat 21 Oct 2006 07:26 AM

    Christophe. I have to disagree with you there. It's both a developer AND a user release. Min-width is supported (resize this site in IE7 for a demo) and lots of other CSS fixes have been added - all moving toward better support of standards.

    Don't just bash Microsoft for the sake of it. They're doing a good job at improving IE.

    • avatar
    • Patrick Ryan
    • Sun 22 Oct 2006 06:35 AM

    Well, you guys can go and install older IE versions on separate machines or VMs - but you don't have to.

    If you're not convinced, simply install one of the standalones (it just requires you to unzip some files) and try it against one of the pages that demo IE browser bugs - like {Link}

    If you're unconvinced technically, read the first part of Manfred Staudinger's article.

    They really do work!

  11. Remember: Microsoft Virtual PC is free, so all you need is an extra copy of XP. I set up one at work to run on only 128MB of RAM, and has IE7, Opera 9, Firefox 1.5.

  12. As is VMware Server. That way I'm absolutely sure, that nobody made a mistake building a standalone version plus I do test in my native language version, of course.

  13. And by the way:

    Firefox 2.0 - Find Bugs Before Your Users Do!


  14. BTW: Firefox 2.0 is out and looks really great. It is even getting better reviews than IE7 in mainstream IT media...

  15. Just a follow on to what Fabian and others have mentioned and to my own comment.

    I ran into problems with Qemu and networking with Win XP as the host. Also, the accelerator layer kqemu needs to be compiled for XP to work right (apparently, not confirming that) and I didn't want to go to the fuss. So, I downloaded VMPlayer (also free) and it has much much better performance over Qemu (about 10x). I've also used VirtualPC in the past to try out Linux with win2k as the host and that seemed ok but networking was a problem there (probably owing more to the linux distro and my lack of skillz).

    I found this really useful link if you want to try VMPlayer and not invest in the (not free) VMWorkstation:


    Also a reminder, you might not be able to get your host copy of XP to work on a VM as the guest OS also as you wil still need to activate it with M$ - especially for IE7. I didn't try as I didn't want my one "in use" key to get black listed or something less savory like that. IE 7 validation seemed to think my unactivated WinXP guest was not authentic as well.

    Last night I settled on upgrading my win XP host to IE7 + FF 2.0 and set up a guest VMplayer for Win 2k SP4 with FF1.5 and IE 6.5 sp1. Later I'll probably make one for earlier browsers as well as some linux clients. A weekend of screwing around with virtual clients and still havn't fixed any CSS bugs for IE 7's sake yet! :-P

  16. There is one problem with IE7 I can see - certificates. IE7's anti phishing tools seem a bit too strict. I know lots of sites which use self-signed certificates and IE7 tries to block your access to such sites...

  17. And one more follow up on virtualization: If creating virtual disks using online tools is too cumbersome for you, you can also use the (now free) VMware server. It comes with a build in UI for that, just like workstation. Unfortunately, video performance seems to be noticeable slower that with the player and you can't install both on the same machine.

    Extremely flexible network configuration is indeed one strength of the VMware products. I can't even imagine how I've been installing all that stuff, taking screenshots for customer scenarios and so on in the pre-VMware days.

  18. Jerry, I just noticed that the site you linked to explicitely states, that VMware Server provides no means of creating virtual disks.

    This is definitely wrong. I've tried version 1.0 and 1.0.1 and they both enable you to create virtual disks without the need of any additional software.

  19. Thanks Fabian! Good to know. Had any luck getting better vido specs out of VMplayer? I'm stuck with 16 color + 800 x 600.

  20. Sounds like a matter of installing VMware Tools (which don't come with the player). They are distributed as an iso image called windows.iso. Should be relatively easy to find on the net. There's even a version available directly from VMware ({Link} which might work (although it's not the latest build and intended as an update to ESX server 2.0.1).

    Installing an evaluation version of workstation would do the trick as well. The image is placed right within the application's directory and can be easily saved (or even burned on a physical disc) for future use.

    The performance boost after installation will be quite dramatic.

  21. thanks again Fabian. Here are instructions for those who are interested in getting the most from VMplayer... for testing of web clients, since that's what this whole thread was supposed to be about. ;-)


  22. This seems like a really brite and experienced group that I'm hoping can help. I am TRYING to building a web site that is being distributed on both DVD and web server (dev server on Intranet, prod. server on Internet). There are many links throughout the site to both HTML and files (PDF, Excel, and Word). When viewing the HTML files of the web site as local files on my computer filing system, the links to HTML pages work fine in Internet Explorer 7.0, but links to files do not do anything. The browser just sits there. No action whatsoever, other than showing the link as "File>///<location/name.extension> This also occurs when viewing the site burned to DVD. However when posted and served from a web server (IIS), all the links work just fine and the site looks great and works great in both IE and Firefox. When I view the site with FireFox (local file system, on DVD, and Web served), everything works just fine. All of our webmasters have NO CLUE what's going on and I'm on a deadline to distribute the disk. Does anyone have any ideas? I've also done Dreamweaver (CS3) browser checks and it shows no problems. HELP!



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