Internet Explorer Updates Include Tweaks for Web Developers

In addition to several security patches, Internet Explorer gains new functionality in Microsoft's latest round of updates.

Internet Explorer Update

This month's Patch Tuesday not only addressed 25 vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, it added new functionality to Microsoft's Web browser.

In keeping with the company's ongoing efforts to court Web coders, the updates to Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) include a revamped set of F12 developer tools, announced Sharon Meramore and Charles Morris, Internet Explorer program managers. The tools derive their name from the F12 key, which invokes the browser's built-in developer toolset when pressed.

"The user interface, console, DOM explorer, debugger, emulation tool, UI responsiveness and memory profiling tools all have new features and bug fixes," said the Microsoft staffers in an Aug. 13 blog post. Time-saving changes to the UI Responsiveness tool now allow developers to import and export their performance sessions, streamlining workflows, improving collaboration and enabling faster analysis.

In a separate support document, Microsoft argued, "You should not need to reproduce your test case every time you want to analyze the data it produces or share that data with a colleague." New icons on the UI Responsiveness tool's icon bar, a folder for importing and a disk for exporting, "let you save your memory snapshots to a file that can be imported later."

Another addition to the UI Responsiveness tool is the ability to filter events. "The Filter events button is small but powerful," stated the company. "Hidden behind that button is a menu that lets you filter events in multiple ways, and each way has a significant impact."

Meant to cut through the "noise" of activity generated by complex Websites, especially those that employ several dynamic elements, the new options include an event name and time threshold filters. The UI activity filter, in particular, could help developers hone in on troublesome issues faster. "Using the check boxes, you can exclude large categories of events to make it easier to focus on the area you are investigating," stated the company.

On the 3D front, IE11's WebGL renderer has been upgraded. It now includes support for "ANGLE_instanced_arrays, OES_element_index_uint and WEBGL_debug_renderer_info extensions, the failIfMajorPerformanceCaveat context creation attribute, 16-bit textures, more GLSL conformance, and line loop and triangle fan primitives," wrote Meramore and Morris.

The update also now sets the stage for WebDriver support. The emerging standard enables developers to test their Websites and how they respond to complex user scenarios in an automated manner.

"The August update contains changes to the browser engine needed to enable native WebDriver support," they stated. "You will need to install a separate package to run WebDriver scripts, which we will release soon."

Users will also have to wait before taking advantage of another new capability, out-of-date ActiveX control blocking. The security-enhancing feature prevents old and potentially compromised ActiveX controls from loading automatically.

A Microsoft spokesperson recently told eWEEK's Sean Michael Kerner, "Based on customer feedback, we have decided to wait 30 days before blocking any out-of-date ActiveX controls." In the meantime, administrators can tinker with a new ActiveX logging feature and assorted management components. "The feature and related group policies will be available Aug. 12, but no out-of-date ActiveX controls will be blocked until Tuesday, Sept. 9," said the spokesperson.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...