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Browser-testing the lazy way

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 by Servage

It’s important for web developers to test websites in various browser to avoid bad surprises, when users start reporting problems. The only real way of doing this is by having multiple browsers installed, and even having test systems with legacy browsers or other operating systems. If you want to test the major browsers in the most used versions on the most common operating systems, you quickly need a whole lot of setups. Browser-testing therefore quickly becomes very annoying and time consuming. Maybe that’s the reason why many don’t do it, and end up with comparability problems.

Some people argue that browser testing is a thing of the past, but actually there still are quite a few differences between browsers. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. Even though we do have standards and best practices to code by, it’s amazing how things can be some different – or not work at all. A good example is Sencha Touch. It’s a great mobile app development framework for HTML5+CSS3+JavaScript. Unfortunately it only works in webkit supporting browsers, which are basically just Apple Safari and Google Chrome. That’s not really a problem, considering that Sencha Touch developers target mobile users on mobile platforms like iOS and Android, where it works properly. It is, however, a good example of how developers are backed into a corner, faced with a difficult decision: Use an open, standard-compliant, super-cool framework like Sencha Touch, accepting that it only works on supporting devices? Build something on your own, risking an overwhelming development burden? Use a simpler solution that works everywhere, but lacks pretty design and feature coolness?

Well, no matter which way you go, you do need to make sure it looks good in various setups. And since it’s really just a pain to do maintain own systems, I am very happy that there is a service called BrowserShots.org

It’s very simple and free. You simply type in a URL and select the operating systems and browser you wish to test in. Thereafter your request is queued and it usually gets handled rather fast. The result are screenshots of the website, allowing you to spot any problems. Obviously this doesn’t allow you to navigate the page or test interactive features, but it gives you a great impression of the looks. Premium users get quicker processing times.

Browser-testing the lazy way, 4.3 out of 5 based on 6 ratings
Categories: Cool stuff

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1 comment (leave a comment)

good find :) will definitely use this often – thanks!

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