Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

SuperPreview: No need to fire up VMs for IE 6, 7, and 8 testing, oh and other browsers

Category: IE, Utility

MIX ’09 has kicked in and “The Gu” just had someone show SuperPreview something that does what we saw with Meer Meer.

SuperPreview let’s you do the same onion peel overlays to see differences across browsers, and you can have everything run in the server (same as Meer Meer). This means that you don’t need to run VMs with various browsers to get your testing in. On Windows and want to see what your app looks like in Safari Mac? No problem.

The demo also showed the nice visualization of seeing where DOM nodes actually are, allowing you to see how the CSS is different. Promising!

Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:49 am

3.1 rating from 27 votes


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First impression: Oooooooh, finally?
Check against reality: Windows only…
Thanks, I’ll keep my VM with multiple IEs. Ajaxian disappointed me today.

Comment by frenchStudent — March 18, 2009

“Unfortunately for the many Mac web developers out there, because Expression Web is not an application part of the Expression Mac suite, SuperPreview will not be available.”


Comment by cancelbubble — March 18, 2009

looks ok so far… but then my expectations are low

Comment by Joyce — March 18, 2009

Wow!! Soo cool! No more VMs, thanks for sharing this new utility.

Comment by hquinn — March 18, 2009

Interesting news, but the commenters on Sitepoint suggests that there is quite a long way to go, before this will become a viable tool.

Let alone the fact that not even Microsoft seems to be able to have true side by side installs of IE, does not look promising :(

But, hope is green and eternal, so here’s hoping for a great testing tool :-)

Comment by MorganRoderick — March 18, 2009

Bah! Nay-sayers! This is a great announcement. So what if it doesn’t work for now? This is an extension of Microsoft’s VM software. How many of us have multi-VMs for testing? This is a tool I’ve been waiting for.

If they really can fake the OS too, then that would be really impressive.

Comment by deanedwards — March 18, 2009

Just a quick update…

I downloaded it (took a while because it made me download the .Net framework) and ran it against my blog. It’s just a regular blogger blog, with some flash things embedded.

SuperPreview crashed.

It worked the second time I started it and ran it against my blog. Just not a good first impression.

Comment by Joyce — March 18, 2009

@MorganRoderick SuperPreview actually uses IE6 for rendering – so IE6 is now running, officially, side by side with the version of IE6 installed on your system. Needless to say, this took quite a bit of work – and this is why SuperPreview is still beta.

@Joyce We still have work left to do on really long sites, like your blog. I tested out your blog and indeed, SuperPreview could perform better. I’ll have our team look at this. If you encounter a specific crash, please feel free to e-mail me at I’ll gladly take a look for you.

Thank you all for your feedback – we appreciate it!

Justin Harrison
Program Manager – Expression Web

Comment by JustinHarrison — March 18, 2009

Uhm, in in order to test JavaScript, I find it’s best to skip the fancy services and just run local VMs.

Comment by nathany — March 18, 2009

PDF is pretty good for pixel perfect cross platform compatibility. I’m just saying…

Comment by pkenoyer — March 18, 2009

windows only, proprietary, dot net where should I start..

Comment by ceeATkalydo — March 19, 2009

Anyone got it working? It keep crashing on me.

“An exception ‘System.IO.FileNotFoundException’ has occurred in SuperPreview.exe.”

“JIT Debugging failed with the following error: Unspecified error”

I’ll stick to the VPC way.

@JustinHarrison, i’ll email you the details

Comment by Marin — March 19, 2009

ok, so this is all fine for visual testing but basically useless for testing interactions which are the basis for most modern web apps.

Comment by seengee — March 19, 2009

I like using VMs, it let’s you test browsers in their native environment. I’m wondering how SuperPreview will work (for example, will IE6 running in SuperPreview on Vista handle sessions the same as IE6 on WinXP?)

Comment by WillPeavy — March 19, 2009

“Download complete. You can now disconnect from the Internet.”
Thanks for the tip, .NET installer.

Comment by JonathanLeech — March 19, 2009

Of course you have to reboot to install this stupid thing. Should have installed it in a VM! Argh.

Comment by JonathanLeech — March 19, 2009

Check out this solution–it’s basically a collection of virtualized browsers:

Comment by RichardDavies — March 19, 2009

This thing seems to do a remarkable job of consuming 100% CPU. Once its finished doing that, I now see what @sengee was saying, you can’t click on anything or fill out any forms, etc. so its pretty much useless for anything anyone reading this website is going to be doing.

Comment by JonathanLeech — March 19, 2009

Or just use a standalone visualized version of IE, single file, runs instantly:

Comment by ck2 — March 19, 2009

Great product. Doesn’t even start.

(Full valid WinXP SP3, necessary .NET version installed, restarted etc.)

Comment by sarimarton — March 23, 2009

“oh, and other browsers”?

oh, if you already have them installed or they actually appear on Microsoft’s as yet non-existent cloud?

Could cloudware be the new vapourware?

Thanks, thanks a lot – I already knew browsers rendered code differently. Showing me something I already know, no matter how cleverly, is no help to me at all. Having my IDE parse my code and tell me where it could hit browser inconsistencies – *that’s* useful. Multiple rendering engines on my desktop? Not so much.

Comment by NickTulett — March 23, 2009

@sarimarton – That looks a lot like the issue we are aware of when SuperPreview is run in a virtualized environment. Can you try the work around that we posted on our blog? ( If that doesn’t work and you have the time, please contact me via e-mail ( and I’ll get this taken care of for you. Thanks for trying SuperPreview!

@NickTulett – This release is an early beta of SuperPreview. There is still a lot of new functionality to be announced that you’ll hear more about in the months leading up to our final release. We recognize that our current beta release is of limited value and we are very excited about what we have on the way for our final release. SuperPreview will be much more helpful for page analysis.

Comment by JustinHarrison — March 24, 2009

@Nicktulett – By the way, as far as vaporware goes, we did demonstrate our cloud functionality on video at the MIX conference. Furthermore, if you watch our session from MIX, ‘No Platform Left Behind’, you’ll see Erik lift the table curtain to show the Mac Mini that runs our Safari for the Mac cloud. I can guarantee, our cloud support is definitely not vaporware.

Regardless, the team recognizes that the most important part of software, is shipping it. A whole bunch of talk means nothing. This is why we did not announce SuperPreview months ago. We announced it when we had code ready for public review – even if it was just beta code. We believe that actions speak louder than words – so I fully understand if you are skeptical until we actually release our cloud service.

Comment by JustinHarrison — March 24, 2009

Recently I have posted a review about Expression Web SuperPreview for Internet Explorer. Microsoft replied back. Please have a look

Comment by myhtmlworld — March 26, 2009


You shouldn’t be adding functionality *after* a beta. Just exactly where in the development process are you?

Comment by NickTulett — March 26, 2009

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