Internet Explorer sneak peek: Focus on WebGL, WebDriver

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel gives developers early access to improvement plans for the browser

Microsoft's Internet Explorer Developer Channel, revealed Monday, is providing developers a sneak peek at upcoming improvements planned for its browser, with the focus now on WebDriver and WebGL support.

Featuring a fully functioning browser, IE Developer Channel is available for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1. It includes support for the WebDriver standard, in which Web developers can write tests to automate Web browsers to test their sites, and it has updated WebGL JavaScript API backing with support for 16-bit textures, GLSL built-in variables, and triangle fans. WebGL offers rendering via the <canvas> element.

IE Developer Channel features improvements to F12 developer tools for building and debugging Web pages, such as event breakpoints intended to help developers find event-driven bugs quicker, richer analysis via Memory and UI Responsiveness profilers, and an improved navigation experience. It also supports the Gamepad API standard for using JavaScript to add gamepad support to applications and games; developers can try it via an Xbox 360 controller.

Microsoft's preview platform comes as the browser has fallen to No. 2 in the market behind Google's Chrome browser, according to an Adobe report. An analyst, though, stressed that Internet Explorer remains important. "IE is still significant," said Michael Azoff, of Ovum. "There will remain a core of 'Microsoft shop' users out there for years ahead, so despite our more fragmented IT world, IE still has relevance, and [IE Developer Channel] will be welcomed by Microsoft developers."

IE Developer Channel gives developers more lead time on upcoming changes and could help prevent site incompatibilities, said analyst Rob Sanfilippo, of Directions of Microsoft. "IE11 introduced many site compatibility issues when it was introduced, likely forcing customers to switch to other browsers to use critical sites," he said. "The situation has improved since IE11 launch by either site developers modifying their code or updates that have been made to IE11."

Microsoft also is listing a roster of improvements in IE Developer Channel, noting many under consideration for the browser, such as Web notifications, an API for displaying notifications to the user. "As we work on new features and standards, we will continue to share early code through the IE Developer Channel. You can always go to the DevChannel.Modern.IE page to learn more about the latest features in the IE Developer Channel," said Microsoft's Jason Weber, program manager for Internet Explorer, in a blog post.

IE Developer Channel can run either with IE11 or independently of it.

This story, "Internet Explorer sneak peek: Focus on WebGL, WebDriver," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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