One tool to test them all: Microsoft Expression Web SuperPreview

23/3/2009

Unfortunately the images to this post were lost during the migration from Blogengine.Net to WordPress

A new tool was launched by the Expression Web team at MIX09. Multibrowser testing these days is still a real pain in the ass. But as a web standards fanatic I want my websites to work cross browser. Unfortunately this implies installing a handful of browsers on your desktop. To top it off you need additional tools to test all versions of Internet Explorer. There is no one tool that you can use to test and debug your website in all browsers.

Enter one tool to test them all: Microsoft Expression Web SuperPreview (a mouthful). It wants to fill the gap in multibrowser testing and looks like a real promising tool. The point of the program is that you have one program which groups all testing. And although the early bèta that is now available only supports Internet Explorer 6 and 7 (or 8 when installed) it is planned to support almost all large browsers in the future.

My installing experience with the product was a bit disappointing. The tool kept crashing on startup. After ranting about it on Twitter I got almost immediate feedback from Justin Harrison, program manager of Expression Web. He pointed me to a blog post with a workaround for the bug I was experiencing. Talk about efficient use of Twitter!

After applying the workaround the tool worked perfectly. You have to be a bit patient because the websites load pretty slow but I’m sure they’ll fix this in one of the future releases. After all this is still a beta. One killer feature that immediately catches your attention is the possibility to overlay two websites. Then you can see the real differences between the two browsers

This could grow into a killer tool which would be indispensable for web designers/developers. One thing that would really top it off is if they added real time css editing. It is already possible to select a certain element on the page by clicking on it (Firebug style). In the status bar you then get to see the properties of the clicked element. If you could then start changing the CSS (and even the HTML) and see the changes in real time that would make one hell of a debugging tool. That’s also what makes Firebug so powerful.

Conclusion: I like the way Microsoft tries to fill a gap in web development I hope it quickly evolves into stable product. When it does and it supports all common browsers it will become a standard in my tool belt to test my websites cross browser. And is it possible to release a Mac version? That would be great ;-) .I know, I know ... wishful thinking.

For more information on Microsoft Expression Web SuperPreview you can check the following links: