I do a lot of cross-browser testing and I've been on a personal mission to make "Browse With..." and multiple browser debugging suck less in Visual Studio. This has been going on for years.
But still, it's too hard. There's been some Virtual Machines up on the Microsoft Download Center but it's tedious to dig around and get the one you need.
Today the IE team announced new site at http://modern.ie to make cross-browser testing easier. Even cooler, they launched a partnership with BrowserStack.com to give us all a three month free trial to their hosted browser virtualization service.
BrowserStack has a cloud of virtual machines with every browser imaginable. You can pick your OS, browser version and screen resolution, then effectively VNC (Remote) into them with their Flash plugin. It's totally seamless and really cool to see.
Here you can see how hideous my site is in IE6 on Windows XP running within BrowserStack. Keep reading, it gets better. Well, IE6 doesn't get better, but this story does.
Even better, I noticed that BrowserStack has nice hackable URLs like this:
When I saw how clear it was, I immediately started writing a Visual Studio plugin - like within 5 minutes - then stopped after a half hour.
I said, this is too obvious. Someone has already done written this, right? I google. Yes, they beat me to it, 5 days ago.
BrowserStack already has a lovely Visual Studio Extension up and ready to go. It adds BrowserStack as a new browser choice within your Visual Studio 2012 debug dropdown.
Start Debugging, pick my OS and Browser, in this case, Safari on a Mac running Mountain Lion.
After you sign into BrowserStack with an account, you can setup a tunnel (using Java, but you can do it from the command line if you don't want to use an applet) between your local web server and BrowserStack and even debug in the cloud. Fabulous.
After I've setup this tunnel, here I am debugging a website running local via a remote Mountain Lion Mac running Safari 6. Or whatever. You get the idea.
Here am I at a breakpoint. Ya, it's freaking me out also.
Again, if you've got VS2012, can you get this now any number of ways. You can go to http://asp.net/browsers, you can go to http://modern.ie or you can just click "More Emulators" within Visual Studio itself.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.