Since the release of Internet Explorer 11 last October, Microsoft has pushed redesigned developer tools as a way to ensure application compatibility across browsers.

A year after the launch of, Microsoft’s virtualization and testing tool and resource site for Web developers, the IE11 team is introducing several new resources to enable faster development of cross-browser applications. The move is a way to reassure developers that they don’t need to choose between developing apps for IE11 or other browsers. The new tools include virtual machine and BrowserStack testing options, memory snapshot scanning, and a UI responsiveness tool.

“Our goal is to help ensure that developers can build across browsers as easily as possible,” said Jason McConnell, Internet Explorer senior product marketing manager. “If you build your site for Internet Explorer, your site will work well in all those other browsers. Our philosophy is build once, run anywhere. By building to the standards we have, your Web application should work perfectly anywhere.”

The most integral tools, McConnell said, are the testing tools. Developers can test versions of IE using virtual machines,  or using the virtual interactive testing platform BrowserStack. Microsoft has partnered with the live, Web-based browser testing service to provide developers a free three-month trial.
“Type in any URL and hit send,” McConnell explained. “The virtual machine or BrowserStack does a quick static scan that looks for common coding practices and compatibility problems. The report will come back highlighting areas in need of support, like problem JavaScript code, out-of-date libraries or jQuery libraries. It will call out the particular line of code and suggest a fix for you to the next compatible version.”

The tests also scan for CSS prefixes and pointer events. On a tablet, IE knows which page to go to after a forward swipe or click, and it allows developers to skip forward and backward in the metacode.

“Once you’ve run a report, you can do more scanning with screenshots,” McConnell said. “In conjunction with BrowserStack, it takes 60 to 90 seconds and then shows you what your page looks like on most popular devices like Android, iPhone and iPad.”

Other new IE11 developer tools:
• BrowserSwarm: A single-page website for JavaScript libraries. It uses GitHub to store code and submit projects, doing unit tests on the page and bringing back results. Right now this is a standalone tool, but it’s in the process of becoming a standard IE11 tool.

• UI Responsiveness tool: After navigating to a page, the developer can move objects around, interact with the page, and stop and replay actions back across a timeline. The tool provides a CPU profile and memory-use profile together in a rich graphical display to see where developers spend the most time executing.
• Memory Snapshot: A snapshot of what a page looks like in memory with objects laid out according to kilobytes of memory used. Developers can take a memory snapshot, adjust the application, and rerun it to show the data of what changed in memory between those two versions.

Read more about the tools in McConnell’s blog post.