Easy Rails debugging in IE with a Mac and VirtualBox

Internet Explorer is still more than 60% of my traffic, and I need to do a lot of feature testing on it. A lot of folks push up to a staging server then point a virtual machine to that server. This is too slow for me. Especially when I’m hunting down and fixing particularly pernicious css bugs, there is a lot of tweaking involved, and re-deploying for each test just doesn’t cut it.

Instead, I setup VirtualBox to connect to my development server so I don’t need to re-deploy to see changes in IE. It makes debugging in IE almost as easy as in other browsers!

Assuming you have, or can, setup VirtualBox with XP or Windows 7 (if not there are a thousand tutorials on google), the rest takes a couple of seconds. VirtualBox’s default setting will allow it to connect to your Mac’s localhost through Forwarding ports is messier, so instead we can run rails on port 80. This requires running your server as a super user. Assuming you’re using rvm, run:

rvmsudo rails server -p 80

and verify you can hit the server at http://localhost on your Mac, and in VirtualBox. You’re good to go!

While you’re at it, I’d recommend installing IE Collection, so that you can easily test on all versions of IE on the same box.