Testing IE6 & IE7 on the same machine

Since the arrival of IE7 there have been a number of workarounds developed to enable designers & developers to test their site in IE6 & IE7 on the same machine. However, none of these have been entirely successful; for example the standalone version of IE6 I had installed didn’t work with HTMLconditional comments, so my IE6 style sheet was not picked up.

Now MS have come to the rescue with a free virtual PC installation that allows you to run IE6 on your machine. It’s essentially like running another version of windows XP on your PC simultaneously.

You’ll need to download Virtual PC 2004 SP1 & the IE6 Testing VPC image from the microsoft. Install virtual PC, unzip the IE6 testing image, point virtual PC at it and off you go!

The virtual PC image is time bombed, so it won’t work after April next year, but by then hopefuly IE7 will be ubiquitous and we can forget IE6 ever happened.

How to create or edit a Firefox quick search

I like the quick search facility in firefox; the dictionary search is particularly useful. by typing “dict search-term” into the address bar you get a dictionary definition.

The definitions used to be provided by dictionary.reference.com but for some reason in the last couple of versions it’s been the Merriam-Webster website. I just don’t think the results are as good. I had a look at the search engines available as firefox add ons but dictionary.reference.com wasn’t there so I set about finding a way to change firefox’s behaviour. Here’s what to do…

  1. Click on “Bookmarks” in Firefox’s menu
  2. Click “Organise Bookmarks…”
  3. Expand the “Quick Searches” folder
  4. Right click on the search you want to change (in this case I changed the dictionary search)
  5. click “Properties”
  6. Change the name of the bookmark to reflect the new site you are going to use
  7. If you want to use dictionary.reference.com for your dictionary search change the location to “http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/%s”
  8. Change the keyword if you want to use something other than “dict” to use this search from the address bar
  9. Change the description to reflect your other changes
  10. Click OK

You can also use this method to create your own quick search for almost any site with a search facility.

  1. Go to the site you want to add and carry out a search using the usual search method.
  2. Copy the URL (including query string) of the search results page. For example here is a search for “test” on theregister.com “http://search.theregister.co.uk/?q=test&mode=site”.
  3. Replace the search term in the query string with “%s”, so for the register we use “http://search.theregister.co.uk/?q=%s&mode=site”.
  4. Click on “Bookmarks” in Firefox’s menu
  5. Click “Organise Bookmarks…”
  6. Expand the “Quick Searches” folder
  7. Right click, choose “New Book mark”
  8. Enter the details for your new search. My Register search looks like this:

Name: El Reg Search Location: http://search.theregister.co.uk/?q=%s&mode=site Keyword: reg Descrition: Search the register, Type “reg ” into the address bar

Life is about to get a lot more complicated

Or easier, I’m not sure which!

 IE7 is due to be released this month. Initially it’ll be available via optional download from the MS website but they are going to push it out through windows update which means that take up is likely to be very quick.

I’m not sure if it’s going to break too many of my sites, I haven’t really had chance to check, but I think I should start checking in earnest.

From a user’s point of view I think Seven is a marked improvement over IE6, I could almost see myself using it as my main browser. I say almost, because I know it won’t be my default browser, I have far too many useful firefox extensions to consider using any other browser.

A whole batch of good new stuff – Part 1: Browsers

I spend an awful lot of time on line so I’m always keen to find ways to make it a more productive and enjoyable time.

In the past few weeks and days there have been some interesting new versions of some of the major web browsers released, I’ve been playing with them to see how they improve on the previous versions.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.

IE 7 Release Candidate 1 is out. This is (probably) the last test version of Microsoft’s new web browser before it is fully released to the public before the end of this year. From a web developers point of view the best thing about Seven is the fact that it’s support for web standards is much better. The CSS support is almost as good as that in Firebox. There are a few things that would have been nice that aren’t there; some of the pseudo elements for example, but the IE team have done a bloody good job.

From a user’s point of view Seven is chock full of goodies! IE finally gets tabbed browsing. I remember when I first used Opera (version 4 I think) being really impressed at how much tidier it was to have all your open pages in one tabbed browser window, instead of having lots of instances of the browser across the desktop.
IE 7 is more secure than it’s predecessors and has a built in phishingfilter. It has a simplified user interface with less frequently used functions moved into sub-menus leaving more screen area for browsing web sites, which is after all what most people want to do with a browser. They’ve also added an RSS feed reader; Chris Wilson, Group Program Manager of the Internet Explorer Platform team at Microsoft said at @media 2006 that this was the feature he was most excited about. Certainly quickly flicking through your RSS feeds is much quicker than re-visiting sites to see if they have any new content of interest, Microsoft clearly that this type of Internet usage will reach mainstream users.

Firefox 2

I really like the Firefox browser, infarct it’s my browser of choice. I only use another browser if I’m testing a site, or I’m on a (badly written) site that refuses to play nice with Firefox. For version 2 (which again is a release candidate at the moment) the firefox team have made a few subtle changes. They’ve tidied up the UI and tweaked things like the “Add-ons manager”. Nice new features include the ability to resume your browsing sessions (so you can pick up where you left off) and enhanced search capabilities. Firefox will suggest search terms as you type when you use the built in search box in conjunction with Google, Yahoo or Ask.

The most important new feature from my point of view is the built in spell checker. Bang goes my last excuse for poor spelling.

One of the nice things about firefox is the vast number of add-ons that can be downloaded to enhance the functionality of the software. For example I use a number of developer tools for firefox to help me in my job. If you have a number of extensions you use already use, you may find that they wont work with version 2. This is simply because extensions are set to work up to a certain version of firefox. This extension allows you make all your extensions think they are compatible with the latest version of Firefox, which is very useful indeed.

Opera 9.02

Those Opera boys are back with another version of their browser and I really like it. Of course it has a tabbed interface, but now you get a little preview screen shot when you hover over a tab which is a really nice touch. There are far too many features to list them all here; new in this release is a bit torrent down loader which I think is a nice touch.


Like Firefox, Flock uses the Mozilla rendering engine (so it displays pages in more or less the same way). In fact it looks very, very similar to Firefox. Flock tries to position itself as

“an amazing new web browser that makes it easier to share media and connect to other people on line. Share photos, automatically stay up-to-date with new content from your favorite sites, and search the Web with the most advanced Search Toolbar available today.”

it is pretty good. I started using it because it has built in integration with wordpress and flickr. so I can write my blog posts in flock (and spell check them) before uploading them. However, now that firefox has a spell checker this isn’t such a compelling reason to use Flock. I have to admit, I haven’t used flock as much as perhaps I should have. I thought it was a bit of a novelty browser, but on closer inspection it would appear that many of the extensions for Firefox are also available for Flock which makes it a much more interesting proposition.