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Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Beta vs Web Developer toolbar extension

“Imitation the Sincerest Form of Flattery.” Or so they say. But I don’t know if this holds true when the imitating party is… Microsoft. Sorry Chris, it’s about time to move on to greener pastures. ;-)

Why the sarcasm? Well, Microsoft released a beta of their Developer Toolbar for Internet Explorer. So? Well, that’s what I thought. Why would I install a beta toolbar for IE when my main developement tool is Firefox with the Web Developer toolbar. Among others.
Just out of curiosity I gave it a go. You can download the developer toolbar beta for IE here. Don’t! If you are running Vista as it seems to crash the system.

So here are my first impressions.

  1. A complete reboot is needed to install the toolbar. I just hate to restart Firefox everytime an extension install/update is issued. Rebooting an OS for a toolbar is another. :-(
  2. After reboot the toolbar is nowhere to be found. Not unless you enable the toolbar first. Again, why did I reboot?
  3. Upon first glance it’s a rip-off of Chris’s work. And not a good one if you ask me.

Not a good user experience to start with. Remember I was sarcastic to begin with. But, I decided to give it a little leeway as it is BETA.

So let us compare, visually first (Click to enlarge):
Web Developer Toolbar vs Developer Toolbar
Sorry for the lame ‘diagram’. But displaying all the options of the WDE (Web Developer Extension) takes up too much screen real-estate. Just a quick glance will tell you the WDE has about twice the options of the MSDT (MS Developer Toolbar). Among them, disabling or switching stylesheets, showing form-debugging info, live editing of stylesheets. To name a few. I’m not saying that every other feature of the WDE is that useful. It’s just that some features are so groundbreaking, you wonder how you ever lived without. (Note: DOM Inspector and JavaScript Console are Mozilla territory, not WDE’s.)

The MSDT introduces the DOM Inspector to IE. Which in itself is revolutionary, for IE. And editing attributes in it is somewhat like the ‘Edit CSS’ feature of the WDE. But if I may give a hint to the MS team. The DOM Inspector isn’t all that. Where did you put the IE equivalent of the ‘JavaScript Console’? Now that’s a feature worth it’s weight in gold. Especially that particular feature that shows the exact linenumber a script error occurred on. Not the vague error message about some line that does not even contain script! As a webdeveloper that’s one of the things I like to see fixed first. Before any eyecandy in outlines or DOM traversal.
Outlining I’ve done for ages. Just add a generic div-rule in your CSS, stating: 1px solid #f00;. And DOM inspection was always done with ‘alert(;’ or the likes.

In conclusion:
The MSDT isn’t usefull right now. Unless you are only developing on/for IE only. Which any self-respecting Web Designer/Developer should not do! I mean, anyone serious about web development should at least have Firefox (Gecko!) and Opera (it’s free from now on) on their system. Only if it were to check up on things.
As a note to the MSDT developers: If you are going to rip off Chris’s work. Do it right. And extend. Give us developers something we cannot live without. The current toolbar sucks.
And a final note to Chris: The MSDT has a ruler function. Not that I’m waiting for it. But if you build that in and add some extra features I think this is the last we’ll see from the MSDT.

If you want to form your own opinion:
Firefox + WDE or IE + MSDT

Take your pick.

Update: It seems that Chris is flattered and has more in store for the next release of WDE.

Update 2: I’ve decided to keep it just because of the ‘Resize’ functionality. :-)

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5 Responses to “Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Beta vs Web Developer toolbar extension”

  1. ThinkLemon » Blog Archive » IE Developer Toolbar update Says:
    November 3rd, 2005 at 3:37 am

    [...] The Developer Toolbar for IE has been updated. It’s been dubbed Beta 1 Refresh and does not seem to have more features. Bug-fixes only. Last time I was a bit critical/cynical. But this is one of the few toolbars, in IE, that still is holding on. Just for the ‘Resize’ function. [...]

  2. Bastien Says:
    August 17th, 2006 at 12:03 am


    I’ve found a developer bar for IE :

    It’s very easy to use and very powerful !

    use it and tell me more about it !

    have a nice day !


  3. Caspar Says:
    August 17th, 2006 at 12:20 am

    I haven’t tried the above mentioned toolbar, yet. (May will or may not :-))
    But I must mention it is shareware for those who want to give it a try.

  4. Rio Says:
    August 22nd, 2006 at 8:07 pm


    I found this accessability toolbar that lets you edit css in IE, but only one rule at a time. But it is really close!

    It’s free.

  5. Caspar Says:
    August 23rd, 2006 at 12:49 am

    The Accessibility Toolbar is a nice toolbar. I did have it installed some time in the past, but I’ve lost it somewhere on the way. (During several re-installs of Windows perhaps.) But occasionally I encounter it on my co-workers IE’s. It’s nice, but I cannot find a reason why I didn’t re-install it…

    If I must guess it must have had something to do with the usability of it. Something didn’t feel right, although I can’t say what exactly. Maybe I should give it a try again. :-)

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