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IE Usage Guide

Internet Explorer is a tricky beast to automate. On this page we are collecting some hints, best practices and explanations for the most common problems you are likely to experience.

Recording in IE is not yet supported – you must record using Chrome and then you may replay the testcase in IE. Because both Chrome and Firefox are better designed for automation, we recommend doing most of your configuration work in those browsers and replaying in IE only when you have the testcase working in another browser.

Configuration Settings

IE requires some specific changes to the registry in order to be automated by Selenium/WebDriver. When not set correctly, Web Performance Tester (WPT) may not be able to start or control IE reliably. WPT automates as much of the configuration as possible, though it may require some help from you (running WPT as administrator, rebooting, etc). However, due to the nature of IE and Windows, the number of possible variations (90, just counting the major OS version, 32/64 bit and IE versions) makes it difficult to test comprehensively. We’ve exposed some control of these settings in the UI via dialogs when you replay using IE. If you encounter difficulties, we encourage you to contact our support engineers for help. We have exposed these settings in more detail in WPT’s preferences (Window menu > Preferences > Web Performance > Browser > IE WebDriver). You can read about the settings recommended by the IEDriverServer docs. If you are brave, feel free to alter these settings and let us know what works for you and what doesn’t!

Browser Focus

IE is very sensitive to window focus. Tests run best when the IE windows has focus but the mouse cursor is NOT over the IE window. When the IE window does not have focus, it may react strangely to mouse or key actions – or not react at all.

When running a suite of tests, we recommend leaving the workstation untouched during the tests, to prevent the IE window from loosing focus.

Running interactive replays is a bit more tricky – particularly when stepping through a testcase one step at a time. It would be difficult to manually switch back to the browser window quickly enough after pressing the play/step buttons to get the focus back to IE in time. So WPT will attempt to switch focus back to the IE window when the play/step buttons are pressed. The current implementation is crude – it is essentially pressing the ALT-TAB key for you. If you only switch back and forth between WPT and the IE window, this works well. But if you switch to another window (including the IE Developer Tools) and then to WPT to press the play button, WPT will switch back to the other window, rather than the browser. We have plans to improve this behavior in the future.

Mouse Move and Hover

Many websites expose or enable controls when the mouse hovers over another control – drop-down menus and buttons the become enabled are common examples. The hover action is simulated using a Mouse Move action in a browser testcase to move the virtual mouse cursor over the control. This simulated mouse action will misbehave if the actual mouse cursor is within IE’s window. You may see the action work briefly and then revert to a non-hovered state. This happens because IE is confused about where the mouse really is.

When replaying testcases or running a test suite, we recommend moving the mouse outside of the browser window or to a corner of the display.

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