Debugging JS problems in IE6 and IE7

There are again a lot of sites dealing with this crappy piece of browser lacking any reasonable way to debug JavaScript errors on it’s own.

The options you have are quite a lot:

  1. use the “Microsoft Script Debugger” [1]
    the oldest and worst possibility, causing instability for Windows as a whole, making your IE crash and many many more bad sideffects. IMHO – just don’t use it, it is absolutely not worth it.
  2. use the “Microsoft Script Editor”
    This piece of software comes only with Office 2003, no other office version has it. From what I’ve read, it is supposed to be quite nice, but … who has Office 2k3 around – I don’t have it.
  3. use “Firebug lite” [2]
    At first glance, it looks completely like its big brother, but only at first glance. If you try to debug JavaScript error messages, firebug lite is not able to give you more information that IE itself sparks out. So it is quite useless in that regard, unfortunately 🙁
  4. use “Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition” [3]
    The free version of Visual Studio comes with everything you need to debug JS errors like one is used to in FireFox. The only and main disadvantage here is that you have to install a fully bloated IDE including useful components like MS SQL Server Express … well, I just wanted to debug JavaScript errors in IE and have to install MS SQL Server, quite weird, IMHO …

    But once you have completed the installation procedure, you can indeed debug JS errors.

    The easiest way to do so is by creating a new website, clicking on the “start debugging” icon in the icon bar that opens the default browser (that must be set to IE in that special case). Entering any URL then let’s you debug problems on that URL.

  5. use “Companion.JS” [4] – my favourite 🙂
    At first and second glance this looks quite promising. Prequisite for that piece of software is to install the (crappy) “Microsoft Script Debugger” from above, but the rest seems to be quite OK. JS errors are displayed with the correct filename, the line numbers however are not 100% correct (ie. showing me errors at line 1 where the file comment header starts …). But certainly the easiest way to get JS debugging.
    The only thing I don’t seem to find is licensing information for that software.

So quite a long story for such a trivial task as debugging JS in IE …

Btw, IE8 is “supposed” to improve this situation, coming with a JavaScript console sparking out reasonable error messages, but I haven’t tried so far.

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=2f465be0-94fd-4569-b3c4-dffdf19ccd99&displaylang=en
[2] http://getfirebug.com/lite.html
[3] http://www.microsoft.com/express/download/#webInstall
[4] http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/CompanionJS/HomePage

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