IE in parallel
Most people doing web design know by now that designer Joe Maddalone managed to solve one of the major problems faced by all web designers. Running several versions of Internet Explorer in parallel (multiple explorers) on the same machine in order to test webpages is no longer impossible (at least on Windows XP).
Those who have not heard about this, please check the following sites :
problem and solution
Once you have installed the different versions of IE, you are facing a new problem because all the open IE windows look alike. Blechtrottel brodaktschns could not possibly put up with this and decided to find a way to overcome this problem, which, after a few failures, was eventually achieved:
IE4, IE5 and IE5.5
The road to success started with the BrandBitmap, an animated logo on the right end of the IE toolbar. Most options of IE are written into the registry of Windows where they control the appearance of all versions installed and stubbornly refuse to be adapted separately. So the only way to separate appearances is to alter the files of the different versions. These files contain many icons and logos but only changes to the BrandBitmap have the desired effect on the browser window.
For these changes we used a freeware tool called Resource Hacker. The (animated) images for version 4 can be found in shdocvw.dll, for versions 5.5 it is in browseui.dll.
Open one of these in Resource Hacker and go to the BITMAP section where you will find entries 304, 305 and 306, containing the animations as successions of single frames like strips of film. You can replace these by single-frame images in corresponding sizes of 38x38, 26x26 and 22x22 pixels. The colour depth in each case is 8bit.
For IE6 the steps described above do not work. The toolbar stubbornly displays a Windows logo. By this logo you can identify IE6 alright, but if that does not please you try doing the following:
Warning: For these changes you have to tinker with the registry. If you do not know what you are doing better leave it alone. You have been warned!
- Save two bitmaps the size of 38x38 and 22x22 pixels into the same directory where your standalone IE6 resides. We at blechtrottel brodaktschns named ours ie6_304.bmp and ie6_306.bmp
- In the registry go to the following key: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar. Add two string keys there: BigBitmap with the value ie6_304.bmp and SmallBitmap with the value ie6_306.bmp
Important: These values must not have full paths to the bitmaps as this will change the appearance of all standalone versions of IE!
IE7 and IE8
As of IE7 we get another dll. In addition it does not display the BrandBitmap as older versions did. With Resource Hacker you can open ieframe.dll and under the heading BITMAP look for two entries named SEARCH_XP.BMP and SEARCH_XP_120.BMP. These control the images of the keys used for internet searches in the upper right corner of IE.
We at blechtrottel brodaktschns replaced them by version numbers. Don't worry, the magnifying glass is not completely gone. If you hover over or click onto the key everything goes back to normal.
If you do not want to do everything yourself you can download the dll's from blechtrottel brodaktschns. These zip archives also contain the bitmaps as templates in case you want to develop your own design.
Oh yes, we deliberately forgot to deal with IE3.
If you want to brand your active browser you will run into problems when you want to replace the dll. It is in use and locked by Windows. There a two ways to overcome this obstacle:
- Either create a Live CD e.g. with BartPE, or use a ready-made live system like Knoppix in order to replace the file without having to boot Windows,
- or use a Microsoft tool named inuse.exe from the Windows 2000 Resource Kit. It allows you to replace files that are in use and works with 32bit-versions of XP and Vista.
In any case, be careful. It is recommended to create a system-restore point before you take action.
If you want to know if Conditional Comments work and if your browser windows are named correctly, have a look at our ie-cc-test.html.
Simply open it in the browser in question.