Monday, November 12, 2007

If Microsoft wants to stay competitive in the browser wars, it needs its own version of Firebug.

There is no two way of saying it - IE is just not friendly to AJAX developers.

Just take a very small thing - runtime error pop-ups. Because I write web applications and I need to debug them in browsers, I have Javascript error checking enabled, in IE and in Firefox.

So when I go to the New York Times, the very first thing I see in IE is this:

So I have to click on the dialog box to dismiss it. Then it comes again, so I have to click again. Then and only then the front page shows.

When I use Firefox (on which I have Firebug installed), instead of showing a big ugly pop-up, I see a small, unobtrusive indication of an error on the page in the lower canvas. If I double-click there, I get an explanation of an error, a JavaScript stack trace, and an opportunity to to set a breakpoint.

The list goes on, and on, and on - have you figured out how to set a breakpoint in JavaScript from Microsoft Script Editor or Visual Studio 2005 yet? I have not. Whereas in FireFox with Firebug all the debugging experience is integrated in the browser almost as well as debugging is integrated in a modern IDE.

This is the reason why most developers I know use FireFox to develop their apps, and then port it to IE (for a bunch of them, that IE is running on a virtual machine on a Mac, see my post about Vista).

Microsoft is probably one of the best companies to fully appreciate what allegiance of the developers (or lack thereof) is worth. And it is losing it fast in the AJAX space, because of the terrible tools.

1 comment:

marss said...

1. It is not very honest to put the blame on IE developers only. You've seen error message because developers of did their work bad. Also you explicitly allowed script debugging in your IE browser (it was disabled by default), so why do you wonder if the browser asks whether you want to start debugging?
2. To set a breakpoint in Visual Studio 2005 write keyword "debugger" in debugged javascript function (without quotes). Of course, it is not too convenient :(
3. I agree with you, Firebug is the great tool that essentially lightens web deveploment for Firefox.