Readers' Polls

Readers' Poll: How Do You Cross-Browser Test?


It's not on many people's things I like most about web design list, but cross-browser testing just comes with the territory. Many argue that there is no best method - but how do you go about testing your work across multiple browsers?

Breaking it Down

In order to make this poll digestible, I've categorized cross-browser testing methods into 5 main types. Here's what I mean by them:

1. Multiple Installations

Having various browsers installed on your systems gives you straight-forward access to check how they handle your work.

This can cause complications where some browsers are concerned (Internet Explorer for example) when they don't allow multiple versions running on the same O.S. There are workarounds however, most commonly in the form of running virtual desktops with services such as VMWare and VirtualBox.

2. Web-Based Screenshot Service

Services which grab a screenshot of your chosen website in a wide array of browsers and operating systems, all from the comfort of your own browser. Think of Adobe BrowserLab, Browsershots and Net Mechanic Browser Photo .

3. Web-Based Browser Simulator

Viewing screenshots is fine for aesthetics, but what if you need to test the javascript, pick apart the DOM, or even log in to a secure session? This is when you'll likely rely on a simulator (or emulator, whatever) allowing you to take control of a remote machine and play with its browsers through your own system.

Scout, Spoon Browser Sandbox, Crossbrowsertesting and Browsera are common examples of what I mean by this.

4. Desktop Application

Desktop applications will often fulfill both screenshot and simulator needs, but require installation on your system.

Think of IETester, multibrowser viewer, Microsoft Expression Web Super Preview and Browserseal.

5. Browser Developer Tools

Some browsers offer plugins and tools which allow them to mimic the behavior of other browsers. Safari has its Debug > User Agent, Internet Explorer 8 will run in Compatibility Mode and there are plenty of extensions such as the User Agent Switcher for Firefox.


Have another way of doing things? Let's hear it!

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