Microsoft: IE 8 Developers, Start Your Engines - Page 2

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"In some ways tools are the best things developers have in the face of browsers that behave differently," Hachamovitch said.

Moreover, "Microsoft contributed 2,500 tests to the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] so that people can ensure that CSS 2.1 [Cascading Style Sheets] work right, and with RC1 we're going to contribute 1,000 more. It's like playing scales-if you can't play the scales, you can't play the music right," Hachamovitch said. He said these tests are important "because browsers can behave so differently, so these CSS tests are crucial."

The IE 8 tools also provide a visual interface to the platform. As Shaan wrote:

"In addition to simplifying the debugging process, IE 8 Developer Tools offer a new perspective on your site. Instead of just a source view, the tool provides visibility into Internet Explorer's internal representation of the site. For example, the DOM tree in the tool is built from the tree IE builds internally to display the page, not from your source. So if script changes the tree, IE 8 shows you the updated tree."

Ben Galbraith, one of the co-directors of the recently formed Mozilla Developer Tools Lab, said Microsoft has implemented an integrated set of developer tools inside of IE 8 that strongly resemble both the interface and capabilities of Firefox's wildly popular "Firebug" plug-in. He said he and the co-director of the Mozilla tools lab, Dion Almaer, "couldn't be more happy to see this happen. I haven't taken a close enough look at it to compare it to Firebug in any detailed way, but it seems very handy indeed."

Galbraith added:

"Interestingly, IE 8 includes a new layout engine (whereas IE7 just introduced enhancements to the existing engine). Time will tell how well this works with standards-based content and whether it's a boon or a bane. At first glance, it certainly makes life more complicated. At PDC [the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference], one of the engineers in the IE 8 technical session teased the audience with a mention that a future version of Office and the IE 8 layout engine will share common code-which would have interesting implications for a non-Silverlight Web version of Office."

Galbraith said he believes the "big disappointment" with IE 8 is JavaScript's speed. "Firefox, Safari and Chrome all sport much faster JavaScript interpreters in their most recent releases-or preview releases," he said. "IE 8 will have only minor speed increases. The word on the street is that IE 9 will include some kind of faster interpreter, but that's a long time to wait. For those anxious to grab share from IE, this may indeed be the largest opportunity-depending on how successfully mainstream Web sites will exploit the new capabilities of the faster browsers."