Thursday 20 August 2009

Problems with IE 8 Developer Toolbar

IE 8 Developer Toolbar Hanging and Locking Browser

Update 25-Sep-09

I have found that one of the primary causes of IE 8 hanging with the developer toolbar is its console logger. If you have a script that outputs messages to the console I have found that IE will hang until all the messages have been outputted to the console. The more messages you have the longer it takes. Also unlike Firebug which seems to output the messages during normal page load activity IE seems to cache all the messages and then output them all in one batch (or has the appearance of doing so). The CPU seems to max out during the outputting of these messages.

I have been doing a lot of work lately with styles, fades and CSS which has obviously meant working with Internet Explorer building in code to handle the differences between IE and other browsers e.g getting computed styles from IEs currentStyle, Opacity differences etc. This has meant using trying to use the Developer Toolbar which was shipped as standard in IE 8.

It should be a great add-on as it lets you do all the things Firebug has allowed developers to do for a long while including switching Javascript on/off, clearing sessions and cookies, viewing the DOM, inspecting elements and their styles and the ability to output debug to the console.

However I have found that this developer toolbar add-on has a tendency to hang especially after the first use of it. I can go to a page and then open the developer window to change the browser or document modes or step through some debug. However if I minimise the window and go back to the main window and then try to open the developer window again the majority of the time it will refuse to come back to focus. Even if I try to maximise or restore the window or go to the desktop to find it. I have also noticed that when I do get focus back it will only partially be visible as if its trying to load content but struggling.

In fact checking the Task Manager usually reveals a CPU of 50% or more. There will be two processes open one for the developer window the other for the main IE window but even though the developer window is hanging it seems the process with the high CPU is the browser window.

I first thought it may just be some heavy Javascript code running on the page but I have had this problem with numerous sites and other people in the office have had similar issues.

I don't know if this is common issue that developers have found but at the moment I am tending to use Firebug-lite or a custom DIV for outputting debug if I need to and custom pages for killing sessions and checking the current document mode and browser mode which are the 3 most common tasks I find myself doing which is a shame as I really like the layout and functionality the toolbar offers. Its just a shame that it seems to run very badly at the moment.


ShaunnyBwoy said...

I've noticed this problem also, and infact I am unable to restart my toolbar altogether. I understand MS have justified approaches in implementing their browser features, mostly security. However, they are quickly losing ground on the other browser due to being a tough cookie to work with, which will be even more higlighted when they release Windows 7 with no default browser.

Tantalum said...

i completely agree. doing any kind of debug work in ie8 is almost impossible. my work requires me to develop for ie, so naturally i work and debug using ie - but the developer toolbar for ie8 has extreme performance issues, and is therefore completely unusable for continous work. the only "workaround" i found was to uninstall ie8 altogether and work with ie7 + developer toolbar, which works just fine.

it's such a shame, i was so excited about ie8, it still looks like a great browser, but if inspecting an object takes 10-15 seconds, it's just not feasible for development.

Rob Reid said...

I have totally given up on IE as a browser now expect for debugging and even when I debug I cannot handle the frustration caused by the developer toolbar hanging constantly.

I am using a couple of bookmarklets mentioned in previous articles for DOM inspection and viewing generated source as well as the tips mentioned in the article.

Its a shame but then IE has not got it dominant market share by producing good products!