Inspect Your Pages in IE

The information published in this post is now out-of-date.

—IEBlog Editor, 21 August 2012

Hi my name is Markus Mielke and I am a Program Manager working with Chris Wilson on CSS and platform support. Today, I would like to talk about DOM Inspectors for IE.

For analyzing web pages and drilling down into problems on a page it becomes more and more important to have a DOM Inspector handy. Not a full fledged debugger but something quick that allows a user to explore their HTML document and understand everything going on with a specific element. For example, a window will display a tree view of the document. As the user clicks in the tree view, the corresponding element in the document will be outlined. Next to the tree view will be detailed information about the element – attributes set, styles etc. FireFox, for example, enables a DOM inspector at install time. Since IE does not have an inspector natively integrated I hear a lot of rumblings in the community expressing a need for a DOM inspector in IE.

The truth is that there already are a wide variety of DOM Inspectors out for IE. One of our best kept secrets is our extensibility story that enables 3rd parties to build rich add-ons on top of IE (go check out marketplace). One of the obvious drawbacks is that these add-ons are harder to discover than if they would come in the box. On the other hand they provide the freedom to choose the one that fits your needs best. Go test them out for yourselves and be the judge!

Comments (42)

  1. Anonymous says:

    No offense intended, but IE’s extensibility is definately not a "best kept secret".

    Every spyware developer in the world knows about it 🙁

  2. Jacob says:

    How about one of those javascript consoles that firefox has? I spend ages trying to figure out javascript errors in IE as it just doesn’t seem to tell me what is going on.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Third party extension are great, but this explanation sounds like a cop-out to me. I say this because IE 5 shipped with (extra download) a DOM inspector and a few other goodies (Web Developer Accessories). They’re only officially supported on IE 5 and 5.5, so 6 is just out of luck.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I realize that third party is great. However, not everyone is going install IE, then spend $20 on a DOM inspector, followed by $15 on a html validator etc. Microsoft makes some of the best development software, why not add some Web Development features also.

    Why not just make a small web development plugin that will make life easier with developers, and ship it with Visual Studio and Frontpage or something.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I find it odd that you’d link first to DOM inspectors that cost money (the first two links) rather than highlighting the free ones first which would be good enough for most people.

    Having to pay money for features that are free in Firefox doesn’t seem a good way to convince people that IE is the way to go.

    As for the DOM inspector in Firefox that is also just an extension, you need to enable it in a custom install. Firefox also has a range of other free extensions available on their extensions website.

    One thing: on the marketplace web site you linked to it calls IE the most popular internet browser. Please use the correct term which is ‘web’. Using the correct term in this case wouldn’t cause confusion.

    I’m sick of people saying their Internet is broken when what they mean is a web site is inaccessible. Microsoft have a lot to blame for this. Originally the IE icon in old versions of windows was labelled "The Internet" and Internet Explorer is not much better – people need to know it’s the web they’re accessing.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve written a menu extension that you can launch from a the context menu which provides most of the functionality I need.

    Best of all it’s free, and now thanks to the mark of the web it works without having to mess with your security settings.,guid,7ea5f669-d1a7-4b05-b915-cd14490daa95.aspx

  7. Anonymous says:

    For security reasons I wouldn’t trust an IE third-party plugin (save from major companies like Macromedia, Adobe, etc) as far as I could throw it. Unlike Firefox (and indeed other FOSS products), these extensions don’t have many many people checking the source, so I’ve got no way of being sure that they’re not malware or such like. Hence I don’t recommend anyone else install them, especially given the prevalence of malware ported to users’ machines through the hole that IE has become.

    Do us a favour, MS, make your own free, non-spyware development plugin for IE. How hard would that be!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Pity all the ‘extensions’ you get for IE are installed for all users (as not every user of a computer will use a DOM inspector). Also they are often shared with Windows Explorer – and vise versa (Windows Explorer extensions can show up in IE).

    Sure there are third party extensions, but I feel the Firefox ones are of superior quality and often free. The Web Developer Toolbar has no equal for IE (the Web Accessiblity Toolbar is the closest, but still no where near as good).

  9. Anonymous says:

    It comes down to security. How can I trust this third party provider?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The correct term, Dave, is actually "Web", with a capital letter. I just thought I’d point that out.

  11. Anonymous says:


    Since you are working on the CSS team, I was wondering what kind of CSS support we are going to see. Are we having full CSS2 compliance?

    Could you give us some details?


  12. Anonymous says:

    Please, say that this is fake:

  13. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Firefox

  14. Anonymous says:

    "I am a Program Manager working with Chris Wilson on CSS and platform support. Today, I would like to talk about DOM Inspectors for IE."

    Um, okay… shouldn’t you be working on CSS issues though? What does the DOM have to do CSS?

    Guys, not to be rude, but I think it’s time you go out and hire a well know web guru to help you understand what leading edge web developers are actually doing. I’m sure Chris can find a decent one.

    I know you’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but you should be trying to accomidate the trends of the future, not those of 1999. Here’s some suggestions:

    1. CSS – Fix it. Completely. Get up to 2.0 (as speced, not your interpretation), then pick your favourite parts of 3.0 and implement them.

    2. DOM – Drop your DOM completely in IE 8 (I know you won’t by 7), and use the proper one:

    You can make this a complete break. There’s really no valid reason for you to be different here.

    3. Really delve into the new ways that devs are working with the web. XHTML, CSS, "Ajax" etc. Help them make better websites. Stick to the standards!

  15. Anonymous says:


  16. Anonymous says:

    DaveP: Enter.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Try it, I think it’s good way…

    Outlook Express errors repair tool

  18. Anonymous says:

    why would I inspect my page with a browser which didn’t even finish implementing HTML

    what’s a Q element, anyway?

    aw, who cares — let’s just leave it out — how important could it be?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Please do fix your CSS support – get it up to the W3C standards

    In fact we would have appreciated your comments much more had they been about what steps you are taking towards acheiving compliance with the CSS standard.

    Ironically – On one hand Microsoft continually reinforces their committment to the W3C standards and on the other you have the most non-compliant web browser!

    I think, we would all appreciate it a lot more – if you can get IE7 upto all the current standards as they are (pass the ACID2 test atleast) and not just implement your wierd interpretations of them.

    Any additional proprietary extensions after achieving standards compliance is then a scoring point in favour of IE, otherwise in absence of standards compliance its all a moot point.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Man, these prayer wheel ie is not css standard complaints are more annoying than the ie implementation flaws itself? To all appearances Markus is all ready with his css standard work, now heading for some innovation;-) And, Pankaj, doesn’t he have every right to do his own business as well?

  21. Anonymous says:


    I’d agree with Louis Parks there’s something dubious with this thread. Reading your post one might expect that you’ve got something nifty ready and yet asking for public demand convincing the board to get it into the box?!?

    Imo, seen in a sober light a DOM insector obviously shouldn’t get caught up in the original box. It’s an extra download like web developer accessories for ie7.. People already used and commuted these previous web developer accessories like R. Jeremiah did, or I did here

    How should I know what this thread is all about-)

  22. Anonymous says:

    I don’t like bashing Microsoft (no, really, I don’t). But saying "Hey guys: look at these 3rd party softwares!" to justify that you won’t be working on just that point is taking your visitor for childs.

    What kind of comments do you expect ? "Oh yeah, that proprietary 3rd party DOM inspector is great!" ?? Aren’t we on IE Blog ?

    To tell the truth, firefox has extension system and therefore is easily open to 3rd party products too.

    So, why this post? To definitively convince people not to use IE?


    Free user.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Please, please please fix the CSS box model in IE7. The non-standard IE box model is the single biggest difficulty I face as a web designer. Teaching how to get around the box model problem when trying to convince students to code valid, accesible html is the single biggest difficulty I face as a web design teacher.

    Please, please please also fix the bugs that we’ve turned into hacks to get around the box model problem (the * html hack, the underscore hack etc.).


    Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the team that brought us CSS support in the first place. If you hadn’t done that, CSS would never be popular enough that we could complain about the lack of support for it…

    And thank you, also, for disabling the BLINK tag…

  24. Anonymous says:

    See my comments at

    BTW, why doesn’t MSDN support Trackbacks?

    May be you have done so, but consider migrating to MSN Spaces system.

  25. Anonymous says:

    This is totally off-topic, but the bug referenced in this Knowledgebase topic:;en-us;Q312496

    has caused me much grief, and I have to rant about it or I’ll blow up. (I just found this weblog)

    Will IE7 finally *fully* support gzip/deflate compression? We’d be saving soo much bandwidth, but problems with CSS and javascript loading before fully decompressing, even on *patched* machines makes gzip compression totally unusable for us.

    even just compressing the html part of the page screws things up if you have javascript anywhere in the page sometimes.

    It’s not app-specific, as other HTML engines appear to be able to cope with gzip encoding.

  26. Anonymous says:

    What is the point of that first link? Why bother with a 2MB download (that you have to pay for after 21 days!), when for an extra 2MB you can get the same functionality plus a free 21st century browser?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Please correct the spelling of Firefox.

  28. Anonymous says:

    And Microsoft doesn’t even know what it’s copying in the photocopier. It’s Firefox, not FireFox. Do you want ice with that burn, Dean?

  29. Anonymous says:

    I desigin CSS properties definitions width "_propertyName" (property names started with an underscore) to fix for Internet Explorer, because support of CSS in IE 5.x and IE 6.x is NOT based upon W3C standards.

    When support of CSS in IE 7.0 is improved, "_propertyName" may work wrong on IE 7.0.

    So I wish IE 7.0 ignore "_propertyName" if IE 7.0 is based upon W3C standards strictly.

  30. Anonymous says:

    A handy util I wrote. Not perfect (yet), but makes styles and properties easily visible for most page elements. Particularly good for CSS problems like "where is that margin coming from?"

    I’d love to see something like this thrown into a new developer tools for IE7. Maybe an update/repackage of the web accessories?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Sorry – if you’re worried about nasty code in there (as you should be), just save to desktop and view source – it’s just harmless javascript.

  32. Anonymous says:

    DaveP, you say

    :"Really delve into the new ways that devs are working with the web. XHTML, CSS, "Ajax" etc. Help them make better websites. Stick to the standards!"

    Is it just me, or is there a contradiction with "Stick to the standards" and AJAX? as far as I know, AJAX works mostly on a non-standard extension to javascript, xmlhttprequest, which was originally introduced by microsoft, yet isn’t in any of the stadrads.

  33. ajax を使いだすとその時点の HTML コードがどうなっているか(innerHTMLですね)を確認したくなることが多々あります。 DOM とか innerHTML に突っ込んでいるうちに、正しい状態になっているのか不安になってきたり、不具合改修したときにきちんと反映されているか比較してみたくなったり、、。 これまで IE の「IE DOM Explorer」や Firefox の 「FireB…

  34. SEO Blogger says:

    Da sich bei uns auf der Arbeit momentan ein regelrechtes Firefox Fieber verbreitet, muss ich als IE 7 Nutzer natürlich auch tolle Tools aufzeigen können, damit ich mit dem Plugin Geprahle der Firefox Nutzer mithalten kann. Ich habe das nützliche Tool