Play with web technologies

Why you should download IE9 Platform Preview

May 03, 2010
Attention: This article is old and the content is outdated. I've left the article here for historical purposes.

IE is a pretty bad browser. It used to be the go-to browser, but now it would be an extreme understatement to say "it is no longer the go-to browser."

IE9 is probably going to be a pretty decent browser, but this article isn't about IE9, it's about IE9 Platform Preview. (It does not support Windows XP) Something I personally find annoying, is that there is no firebug - or something equivalent - for IE, like there is for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc. I have tried using firebug-light but it doesn't help much and I don't really like it.

Document Mode

I was having a look at IE9 Platform Preview recently and I found that I could switch between IE5, IE7, IE8 and IE9 Document Mode which is pretty handy. The IE8 document mode is to IE8 as IE8 compatibility mode is to IE7. Basically, the webpage might render exactly the same in the browser version and the document mode, or it might be slightly off. It's mostly accurate though.

My method

What I generally do (And I'm sure lots of other people do this too) is have a look at what my webpage looks like in IE8 compatibility mode (Checking for IE7).

  • If there are problems, I would fix them using (probably) an IE7 conditional stylesheet and then make sure everything is good in IE7.
  • If I find no problems, I would test it in IE7 immediately, and fix any problems.

So far, this method has worked perfectly for me, however I may very well start using IE9 Platform Preview's IE7 Document Mode for this from now on since I'll be using IE5 Document Mode to check for IE6.

Developer Tools

The coolest thing about IE9 Platform Preview is that it comes with Developer Tools, which is a Firebug-type of application. This will make our lives, as web-developers, much easier. We can temporarily edit the CSS and HTML on the fly and view the changes immediately. It brought tears to my eyes when I stumbled upon this (Not really, but I was happy). The best part about all of this is combining the Developer Tools with the Document Modes. As you can imagine, this could save you a lot of time while trying to fix IE6 or IE7 HTML and/or CSS problems. I tested this out recently and it worked really well. Among other things, you can:

  • Disable scripts, CSS, etc
  • Colour picker
  • Ruler
  • View link paths, DOM page source, DOM element source
  • View multiple image properties, such as image height/width, file size, etc
  • Cache options
  • Resize browser (The options don't seem to work for this)
  • Validate HTML, CSS, feed and links

Again, there are things I have left out. These are merely the options that left an impression on me.

Any problems?

I have encountered two little problems:

  • The 'resize browser' options don't seem to work
  • The ruler is completely invisible on a white background since it is white itself
  • And the Developer Tools were only loading the IE9 Platform Preview's default page's information instead of the page I was currently on. This has only happened once and I have used this multiple times.
  • It took me a few minutes to get used to it - I guess that's normal though


IE9 Platform Preview's Developer Tools speeds up the process of solving some of IE's CSS problems. It's not perfect yet, but it's a start.