A Firebug alternative for Internet Explorer

Published July 7th, 2008

I spend most of my time developing server-side code and testing in Firefox so I don’t usually worry too much about other browsers. But when — as now — I find myself writing JavaScript and CSS, and struggling with all the cross-browser horror that comes with it, I need all the help I can get.

Opera has made great strides recently with Dragonfly, its own answer to Firebug (the current yardstick by which all other developer tools are measured), and while not quite as good it’s improving all the time. Safari is lagging well behind with its Web Inspector, which promised much when it was relaunched last year but thus far has failed to deliver.

When it comes to Internet Explorer, the situation isn’t as awful as one might expect. Until recently I’d been using a combination of Developer Toolbar and Script Debugger but today I stumbled upon DebugBar, an IE extension which comes a lot closer to Firebug’s functionality, especially when it comes to inspecting CSS rules and so on. Its handling of JavaScript errors doesn’t improve much on IE’s own abilities — it still won’t tell you which file an error has occurred in, for example — and it seems to have trouble inspecting some script-created elements. Still, worth a look.

UPDATE: while we’re on the subject of developing in IE, I should mention CachePal, a shortcut button that clears IE’s cache. Handy when you’re developing (say) JavaScript, because IE has a tendency to hang onto old JavaScript files even after a SHIFT+Reload.

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