Internet Explorer 10 developer tools closes on some navigations

developer-toolshttpwatchinternet-explorerinternet-explorer-10

I'm trying to debug an issue with Internet Explorer 10 by monitoring networking with the developer tools console but I'm stuck with an odd behavior – sometimes the console just closes and all the recorded traffic is lost.

To be more precise the call sequence is following (this is actually a standard SAML 2.0 authentication flow with client certificate login at the IDP):

  1. GET https://application.host/alias -> response is an auto submit POST form to:
  2. POST https://identity.provider.host/sso/end/point/alias -> authentication with certificate happens here and an auto submit POST form that contains a SAML 2.0 response is returned and it will submit it to:
  3. POST http://application.host/acs/end/point -> returns auto submit POST form to:
  4. POST https://application.host/alias (the originally accessed resource) – redirect to:
  5. GET https://application.host/alias

Note that everything after the initial access happens automatically and the user does not have to click on any links or submit some forms.

Auto submit POST form is something like this:

<html>
<head> 
... some head data here...
</head>
<body onLoad="document.forms[0].submit()">
  <form name="auto.submit.form">
   ... some form fields here...
  </form>
</body>
</html>

The problem occurs somewhere after point 2 – the developer tools console just closes but this does not seem to affect the actual work of the browser.

I also tried with HttpWatch Professional – I get the same effect – the plug-in just stops recording or is completely closed.
I cannot use Fiddler in this case because it prevents me from debugging the actual issue (i.e. it works when Fiddler is enabled). Also the issue is specific to IE so I cannot use the developer tools of another browser.

Any ideas/hints about that?

Update:
I think I figured at least some part of the issue:
The developer tools window closes when a navigation to a different zone is done.
I.e. in my case the host at step 2 is in the internet zone, while the host from the other steps in the local intranet zone then the dev tools window is closed after the navigation from point 2 to point 3 is done (not when the redirect from 1 to 2 is done).
The difference is that the first one is done via a javascript and self-submit form, while the other one is just a 302 redirect response.

After I added all the sites to the local intranet zone, then the issue stopped occurring.
Still its a mystery and also seems to be rather an IE issue than a dev tools issue because also HttpWatch seems to be affected by it.

Best Solution

The IE developer tools and HttpWatch are process based so if you cause IE to create a new process you get a new instance of the tool. New IE processes are created by default in these situations:

  • You navigate from a protected mode site to a non-protected mode site, e.g. from internet zone to intranet zone

  • You open a new IE tab or window

There's some information about the IE process model in his blog post:

http://blog.httpwatch.com/2009/04/07/seven-things-you-should-known-about-ie-8/

One possible workaround is to set the registry value TabProcGrowth to zero as described in the blog post.