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Microsoft launches Modern.IE to aid cross-platform web app testing

Listen up, developers. Microsoft has launched a new site with free tools and resources designed to make it easier for you to test your site to ensure it looks great across browsers.

The site, modern.IE, features a so-called "code detection wizard" that scans sites for common coding issues like an outdated jQuery web framework, which can prevent users from having a good experience. There's also a list of the top 20 best coding practices, which Internet Explorer general manager Ryan Gavin estimated can resolve around 85 to 90 per cent of compatibility issues.

"Developers are spending too much time testing to ensure their sites work across browsers and operating systems," Gavin said. The resources on modern.IE are aimed at helping developers "spend more time innovating and less time testing."

The new code detection tool will identify any problems that result from supporting older versions of IE, and offer up recommendations on how to update the site. It will also recommend best practices that apply to different form factors, such as smartphones and even large-screen TVs, to ensure the site works well across browsers and devices. Finally, it will provide suggestions for building with some new features in Windows 8, such as touch-enabled browsing.

"The wizard doesn't offer a complete checklist for coding the modern web, but it is intended to focus on the things that can make a real difference in the overall user experience," Gavin wrote in a blog post Thursday. "We plan to continually improve, and add to, modern.IE."

As part of the release, Microsoft also partnered with the virtual browser testing service BrowserStack to offer three months of the service for free over the next year. The service lets developers see how their site looks on any browser available on Windows, regardless of which operating system they're running.

"Services like BrowserStack mean that developers won't need to worry about maintaining their own test machines as that the browsers on the service are maintained in the cloud," Gavin wrote.

Finally, the top 20 tech tips list should address most compatibility issues developers have coding for the web. It was created with the help of coding experts Dave Methvin, who is the president of the jQuery foundation, and Microsoft Technical Evangelist Rey Bango.

Microsoft has done quite a bit recently to showcase what is possible on the web with HTML5, and highlight that Internet Explorer isn't the browser it used to be. The company recently took on Internet trolls with a new ad that acknowledged the sometimes vitriolic IE hate but suggested that even the trolls are coming around, albeit slowly.

The Redmond-based firm also recently teamed up with the developers of Contre Jour to bring the popular game to the web with HTML5. In partnership with Atari, Microsoft launched the Atari Arcade, where gamers came play eight classic Atari games that were completely remade in HTML5. Microsoft has also tackled HTML5-enhanced music videos and shopping catalogues.