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IE 8 Behind the Scenes: Testing IE

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Internet Explorer, like all applications released by Microsoft and other software companies, undergoes immense amounts of rigorous testing before being released in the wild. Given the nature of what IE does (compute, calculate, and render random HTML strings into a coherent pixel mesh that adheres, as best as possible, to some set of standards, parse and execute random javascript, host and run COM objects in form of add-ons, etc) the testing matrix is enormous. How complex is the testing process for IE? Well, let's find out, shall we?

Here, we meet three people who absolutely know how much of a challenge it is to test IE and ensure overall quality of any given release:  Test Manager Jason Upton, Software Developer in Test Jim Moore, and Test Lead Kris Krueger. 

Tune in. It's great to hear from the testing perspective. Testing an internet facing application like Internet Explorer and ensuring a high quality product leaves the building is quite a daunting and, from the outside world's perspective, thankless task. From all of us here, however, THANK YOU IE TEST TEAM!!!!

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  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle

    Nice interview.

  • Charles,

    Nice interview.  It's nice to hear from the people who are responsible for making sure the quality is up there.  With that being said, the following is a rant, things that have bothered me about IE for a long time.  Take it with a grain of salt, I still enjoy your interviews and I'm very happy you do them.

    Here goes: The interview does go little long in the tongue and it seems you guys are talking in too much generalization and not enough specifics. 

    For example, what do you guys use to test IE, is it a system Microsoft developed, is it open-source, do you write .NET code, COM code, JavaScript code?  I appreciate you interviewing them, but it really seems that for all the testing the IE does, IE is really behind the rest of the world in terms of usability.  Firefox manages to require only 10 minutes to install, no reboot, and your up surfing the web in less than the time it takes the IE installer to download it's components.  It's a lot of weight for a browser.

    It really seems that Microsoft is really hanging onto COM with it's cold dead hands.  Obviously it's a hard technology to get right, and I'm there are many debates about it's merit and such, why not write IE in .NET and open-source the browser, that would be something headline worthy.

    As for extensions, you haven't mentioned yet what IE uses for extensions, I'm assumign COM?  Why not use MEF to create some type of framework developers can use.  If it exists and I just haven't read enough, I take it back.

    All in all, it's a great improvement from the days of IE6 and IE7 did a lot to bring Microsoft out into the new CSS world, there are somethings that would make the browser more complete, how about a download manager?
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Thanks for the feedback. We probably should spend more time focusing on the exact tests, but as stated in the interview the tests are mostly programs that are written as web pages (including JS and CSS that stress the browser or find subtle and not so subtle bugs) or COM-based plug-ins (which cause most to the woes for IE).

    C
  • Another vote for a better Download Manager built into IE.  Sucks to lose a download because of dropped wireless and then have to restart from byte 0.  Also, you may want to make your range request size field a 64-bit field, rather than a 32-bit one ... /facepalm.

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