Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Review

I just downloaded the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Beta (322kb download). I’ve been using Firefox’s Web Developer Toolbar for a long time and I love it. It was one of the reasons I switched to Firefox. I really disliked returning to IE to test pages because of the lack of development tools. If something is not positioned correctly, the outline element tool is very useful. I was hoping that the Internet Explorer toolbar could replicate the Firefox one.

The installation is relatively simple – standard installer with cheap clip art icon. The installer added a new BHO (Browser Helper Object), toolbar and explorer bar to my browser. It asked me to restart on Windows XP although it seems to work without a restart.

When I opened up Internet Explorer, I needed to manually right click the toolbar and enable the new toolbar. Maybe I’m used to the ease of installing Firefox toolbars 🙂

Screenshot

The toolbar looked a bit unpolished to me. There are no icons, some of the buttons on the icons open menus whilst others open a tool and it’s not indicated which. The DOM Viewer didn’t work for me.

Ruler

The ruler tool is cool. It’s a movable, resizable, repositional, rotatable ruler. It can tell you how wide something is. I guess it has it’s uses although I can’t think of many practical uses I would have for it whilst developing web pages. I also don’t know why anyone would want a ruler measurement in a direction other than horizontal and vertical. Still, the X/Y axis snap makes it easy to measure in a vertical or horizontal direction. There is also a snap to element which makes it really easy to measure the size of an individual element on the page.

It’s obvious that the IE toolbar was inspired by the Firefox Web Developer Toolbar. Coming from the Firefox toolbar, I was quite disappointed at the features in the IE toolbar.

Disable Menu

The Disable menu doesn’t have as many options as the Firefox menu but it has all the essentials. It would have been nice to disable individual styles, browser styles, and referrer sending.

View Menu

Again, with the bare minimum and probably inspired by the Firefox toolbar once again. One thing I really didn’t like is the information boxes appearing over the elements. When you choose to “Show Link Paths”, the green box appearing showing the link path appears above the link. If the link text only consists of a few characters, you only see part of the link URL.

View Link URL

The outline menu works just as it does in Firefox. It works well, and the ‘outline positioned items’ menu is good. You can also outline custom tags.

Validate Menu

The toolbar provides quick n’ easy validation of HTML, CSS, Feeds, Accessibility. The HTML, CSS and link checkers are provided by the W3C. Results open in a new window. The feed validator is a bit silly – it doesn’t support autodiscovery so you actually need to open the RSS feed in your browser and then click on ‘Validate Feed’. This is not always easy, if you send mimetypes (example). Auto-discovery would be really useful and save a lot of time. On standard HTML pages, this should be grayed out.

Images

Again, information appears above the image. On small icons, you won’t see the full information. Also don’t try to ‘View Alt Text’ and then ‘Show Images Size’. It doesn’t work!

Misc Web Links

Quick access to W3C specs. Apparently, the Web Developer Firefox Toolbar is removing these. I’ve never found the W3C documents great reference of good for learning HTML. When I clicked on ‘View Cookie Information’, IE opened up a new window at C:\Documents and Settings\Khlo\Local Settings\Temp\CookieInfo-756558.xml and gave me an error saying that it restricted access to that file because of active content. Sigh. Allowing the content to run produced a blank page.

The Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar is overall a useful tool for any web developers working on Internet Explorer. It’s still unpolished and buggy in many places but it is beta software so that is to be expected. It needs work to fix the various annoyances and it won’t make anyone switch from Firefox back to Internet Explorer.

Overall Rating: 3/5

5 thoughts on “Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Review

  1. Does anyone know how I can disable the ruler so that it doesn’t appear every time I type SHIFT+R?  This is very annoying since everytime I type my wife’s name (Rebecca) in an email it takes forever to get an "R" to appear in Gmail.

     Thanks!

     Ian

  2. Just in case someone else is dealing with this, my solution to the the Shift+R problem is to simply type (with NUM LOCK on) Alt+82. That produces a capital R on my computer.

    Ridiculous workaround, but hopefully it helps somebody else out there.

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