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Firefox fans get IE-happy AJAX testing tools

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JavaScript coders targeting Firefox can now test their apps with free tools that started life serving the developers on Microsoft's once mighty Internet Explorer.

dynaTrace Software has released AJAX Edition 3 that adds support for Firefox 3.6 and 4.0 to its AJAX performance management tool.

Earlier versions had only tested AJAX apps working with Microsoft's IE 6, 7, and 8 and .NET servers.

dynaTrace is working with Microsoft to add support for IE9, released two weeks ago, but it said it's embracing Firefox now because of the large number of devs using Mozilla's browser.

IE is losing market share and dynaTrace lead architect for developer and AJAX solutions Andreas Grabner said that most IE sites are suffering in terms of development and functionality because devs have switched to Firefox or are going to Google's Chrome.

"Developers don't want to deal with IE - they are on Firefox," Grabner said. "I talk to a lot of conferences about performance optimization. I sit in a room and I ask: 'Who's using IE?' If I get one per cent on IE that's good," he said.

A major thing that has held devs back on IE has been a lack of HTML support in the browser from Microsoft - rectified in IE9 - and the gap in the HTML tools in Microsoft's flagship application development suite, Visual Studio. "I don't blame them," Grabner says of devs not building AJAX apps for IE anymore. "There were no tools for IE."

Firefox devs have had tooling issues of their own. To build and test the performance of AJAX, they've had individual or client-specific products like the popular Firebug and Selenium.

dynaTrace's update means Firefox devs not only get access to a suite of client- and server-side testing tools used by their peers flogging IE, but devs straddling both browsers now have one place where they can test their AJAX apps.

dynaTrace has won the enthusiastic backing of JQuery inventor John Resig. Resig said in a minimalist in statement served up by dynaTrace: "Nice - the awesome dynaTrace tool is available for Firefox now!".

dynaTrace lets you get information on how a JavaScript application has executed in the browser by providing an execution trace that shows the functions called and the parameters used. The AJAX Edition is designed to work with JavaScript's single threaded environment and timers without adding overhead.

"With our tracing approach we let you get this information without having an impact on the execution time," Grabner said.

AJAX Edition comes in two flavors - free and premium. The free version gives you track rendering times, JavaScript/DOM tracing and web test automation. It will assess page speed and page load using benchmarks provided by Yahoo!, Google, and test pages from Alexa that dynaTrace has added because it feels these more likely reflect most ordinary users' sites rather than the pages of web giants.

Premium edition lets you see how the app has worked with the server - Java and .NET - lets you compare different test runs, and provides automated reporting and custom dashboards. This edition lets you analyze different end-users' interactions, like search or writing an email.

Bootnote

Grabner endorsed reports from Firefox that its latest browser is out pacing downloads of IE9. Microsoft claimed 2.3 million IE9 downloads in the first 24-hours after its release this month, a number that put it ahead of IE8 and Safari 4.0 on Windows. But Firefox 4.0 has blown IE9 away, according to Mozilla: 7.1 million downloads in its first 24-hours - just behind Firefox 3.0's record-setting 8 million.

IE9's biggest hope for growth is two fold: Microsoft slides it into the next Windows Update that most users will swallow and that should mean a wave of installs.

Also: business. Most business apps are written for IE thanks to companies' use of Windows and Outlook. Unfortunately, a very hard core are still clinging to IE6 and IE7. Organizations who've not jumped to IE8 will likely look to IE9 and upgrade following testing in a year-or-so. It has taken two years for them to adopted IE9's predecessor, with IE8 only now hitting a quarter of the market as Microsoft's introduced it's successor. ®

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