Review Of Cross-Browser Testing Tools

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At some point in the future, the way that all major browsers render Web code will likely be standardized, which will make testing across multiple browsers no longer necessary as long as the website is coded according to Web standards. But because that day is still a way off (if it will really come at all), testing your design the advanced browsers as well as legacy browsers is a necessary part of any project.

The old-school way to test code was to load your website on as many computers as you could find, using as many different combinations of browsers and operating systems as possible. That was fine if you had access to a bunch of different computers (and had some time to kill). But there are much more efficient ways to test across browsers, using either free or commercial Web services and software. In this article we review some of the most useful ones.

Free Cross-Browser Testing

Good news: very powerful free testing tools are available for Web designers today. Some are more user-friendly than others, and some have significantly better user interfaces. Don’t expect much (if any) support with these tools. But if you’d rather not spend extra money on testing, some great options are here as well.

Adobe BrowserLab

Adobe BrowserLab311 is a free cross-browser compatibility tool that lets you test a number of modern and legacy browsers, including various versions of Chrome, Safari, IE and Firefox. It gives you a number of ways to view pages, including a full-page view in a single browser, as well as side-by-side comparisons of browsers and an onion skin view. The service can access dynamic pages across the web, or viewed locally via Firebug or Adobe Dreamweaver CS5. The ability to create pre-defined browser sets is also useful, in case you don’t need to test on older browsers.

2

Browsershots

Browsershots323 is probably the most comprehensive free testing tool available. It includes Linux, Windows and BSD browsers. It also includes a number of browsers you’ve probably never heard of (like Galeon, Iceape, Kazehakase and Epiphany). For the most part, Browsershots tests on the most recent version of each browser, as well as on legacy versions.

While Browsershots does support a huge variety of browsers, the more you test, the more slowly it prepares the results. So, you may want to stick to the major browsers.

4

SuperPreview (Free and Commercial)

SuperPreview335 is Microsoft’s offering in this space (and it’s compatible only with Windows). It lets you define your own “baseline” (or default) browser, and it works with any browser installed on your system (and comes with the IE6 rendering engine built in). The fact that it only works with your built-in browsers does make it faster (because you’re not uploading anything or waiting for a remote server), but it also limits the number of browsers you can compare.

SuperPreview trial comes with 60 days of cloud services before you have to either buy it or go into reduced, (local browsers and IE 6-9 mode). In an online version, you have support for Chrome, Safari (Mac) 4+5, Firefox 3+4. You can also use an interactive mode to log into sites that require a login before displaying the page you want to test. There are also debugging tools for the DOM and onion skinning available in Adobe Browserlabs. Unfortunately, there is no support for Opera whether installed locally or in the cloud and you do have to have the version included with Expression Web to get the cloud services option but the base version with support for IE 6, IE 7, IE 8 (and IE 8 rendering as IE 7) are included with the free version as well as IE 9 if it is installed locally. (Thanks, Cheryl D Wise)

6

Lunascape 6

Lunascape347 is a triple-engine browser for Windows. It runs Trident (IE), Gecko (Firefox) and Webkit (Chrome and Safari), so that you can see how your website looks in all three, side by side. While it’s not a traditional browser compatibility tester, it is nonetheless a useful tool for designers and developers. One major benefit is that you get to view your website instantly in all three major rendering engines. There’s also support for Firefox extensions and plug-ins, so you can use developer tools like Firebug to diagnose compatibility problems.

8

IETester

IETester359 is a free (both for personal and professional usage) browser for Windows that allows you to have the rendering and JavaScript engines of IE10 preview, IE9, IE8, IE7, IE6 and IE5.5 on Windows 7, Vista and XP, as well as the installed IE. Only an alpha version of the tool is available. Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP with IE7 minimum are required for the tool to run.

10

IE NetRenderer

IE NetRenderer3611 lets you check compatibility in Internet Explorer versions 5.5 through 9. You’ll have to check each version individually, but the service is free.

12

Spoon

Spoon3713 is an application emulation service. It provides free versions of Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari for Windows users. A number of versions of each browser are included: Firefox 2–5, Chrome 4–8, Safari 3–5 and Opera 9–10. Bad news: Internet Explorer is supported by Spoon virtualization but is not available by request of Microsoft.

14

Sauce Labs (free and commercial)

Sauce Labs3815 provides a lot of browser and OS options and sets you up with a browser dedicated VM instance that you operate inside the browser of your choice. It also records a video of your entire testing session. The service offers 200 free minutes of testing per month and allows you to quickly build automated tests from your browser with Selenium.

16

Browsera (free and commercial)

Browsera3917 provides automated compatibility testing. It automatically highlights differences in the way browsers render your design, thus simplifying the testing process. It also detects JavaScript errors, and the commercial version can test pages behind subscription or log-in walls. It can also test dynamic pages.

The free plan includes a limited number of browsers and low-resolution screenshots. Premium plans start at $39 for a single project and $49 to $99 for monthly subscriptions, and they support more browsers, provide high-resolution screenshots and let you test private pages.

18

Browserling (free and commercial)

Browserling4019 is a relatively new cross-browser testing app. It supports a limited number of browsers (and not necessarily the newest versions), which makes it of limited use to some developers. It’s still in beta, though, so hopefully more browsers will be supported in the near future.

The free version comes with a five-minute session limit, and the developer version is $20 per month with no time limit.

20

Commercial Cross-Browser Testing

Commercial tools often have features not found in the free ones, including live interactive browser virtualization and mobile device testing.

Mogotest

Mogotest4121 does complete browser-compatibility testing, including for private pages. There’s an API, so it can be integrated in your current tools and workflow. Mogotest also offers a website health report that tells you about broken links and pages, redirect loops and other issues common to new websites. The service also offer screenshot comparison tools for testing screenshots against each other as well as site-level testing including page consistency testing and individual page tests. HTTP basic and cookie-based login systems are supported as well.

There are two plans for individuals: a personal plan starting at $15 per month that lets you test up to 50 pages on three websites, and a freelancer plan for $45 per month that includes up to 10 websites and 350 pages. The team plans start at $125 per month and go up to $4499+ for unlimited access. The two highest-cost plans include custom reports.

22

Cloud Testing

Cloud Testing4223 offers functional cross-browser testing. You record the user journey with your browser and Selenium IDE, upload it, and then Cloud Testing will run that script in multiple operating systems and browsers. It then provides screenshots and HTML and component diagnostics. No prices are listed on its website.

24

BrowserCam

BrowserCam4325 includes testing tools for both desktop and mobile browser compatibility (the latter is still absent in many other tools). It also offers remote access for live testing on Windows, Linux and OS X configurations, and email capture for checking your HTML, RTF and TXT emails.

Pricing for BrowserCam starts at only $19.95 per day for a single service (and $24.95 for the browser, remote access and email capture package), up to an annual subscription price of $399.95 for a single service (and $499.95 for browser capture, remote access, email capture and multi-user access, or $999.95 for all of those features plus device capture).

26

Multi-Browser Viewer

Multi-Browser Viewer4427 covers both desktop and mobile browsers. It includes 26 virtualized Web browsers, 5 mobile browsers (including the iPhone and iPad) and 61 screenshot browsers (meaning you can see how the website renders but not interact with it). It’s also available in five languages: English, Spanish, German, Russian and French.

Multi-Browser Viewer is $139.95 for a single-user license and includes a year of product usage and updates. Updates after the first year are currently $99.95. A free trial is available through the website.

28

CrossBrowserTesting

CrossBrowserTesting4529 provides live interactive browser testing with remote VNC sessions. It also generates automated screenshots across multiple browsers for more basic testing. There are more than 100 browser and operating system combinations, including many mobile platforms.

Monthly subscriptions range from $29.95 to $199.95, depending on the number of users and the minutes of testing (minutes can roll over to the next month, but they’re not unlimited). A one-week free trial is available for all plans.

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Testing Services Compared

The chart below shows the basic features offered by these cross-browser testing services and applications, making it quick and easy to compare.

Tool Number of browser versions supported IE? Interactive testing? Side-by-side testing? Pricing
Adobe BrowserLab311 13 IE6+ No Yes Free
Browsershots323 60+ IE6+ No No Free
SuperPreview335 Varies IE6+ Yes Yes Free
Lunascape347 3 IE6+ Yes Yes Free
IETester359 6 versions of IE IE5.5+ Yes Yes Free
IE NetRenderer3611 5 versions of IE IE5.5+ No No Free
Spoon3713 16+ no IE Yes No Free
Sauce Labs3815 40+ IE6+ Yes No Free — $499 per month
Browsera3917 9 IE6+ No Yes Free – $99/month
Browserling4019 9 IE5.5+ No No Free – $20/month
Mogotest4121 7+ IE6+ No Yes $15 – $4,499/month
Cloud Testing4223 4+ IE6+ Yes Yes Not specified
BrowserCam4325 90+ IE5.2+ Yes Yes $19.95 – $89.95/month
Multi-Browser Viewer4427 80+ IE6+ For some browsers Yes $139.95
CrossBrowserTesting4529 100+ IE6+ Yes Yes $29.95 – $199.95/month

Conclusion

Regardless of the tool you choose, testing early and often during the Web development process can save you from a lot of headaches later. Find a tool that fits your workflow (so that you’ll actually want to use it and it won’t be a hassle), and test whenever you make major changes to a design.

What tools do you use for cross-browser testing?

How has your experience been with cross-browser testing tools and services? Which ones do you use? How do you integrate cross-browser testing in your professional workflow? Let us know in the comments!

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(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 https://browserlab.adobe.com/en-us/index.html#
  2. 2 https://browserlab.adobe.com/en-us/index.html#
  3. 3 http://browsershots.org/
  4. 4 http://browsershots.org/
  5. 5 http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/dd565874.aspx
  6. 6 http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/dd565874.aspx
  7. 7 http://www.lunascape.tv/
  8. 8 http://www.lunascape.tv/
  9. 9 http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage
  10. 10 http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage
  11. 11 http://www.ipinfo.info/netrenderer/
  12. 12 http://www.ipinfo.info/netrenderer/
  13. 13 http://spoon.net/browsers/
  14. 14 http://spoon.net/browsers/
  15. 15 http://saucelabs.com/
  16. 16 http://saucelabs.com/
  17. 17 http://www.browsera.com/
  18. 18 http://www.browsera.com/
  19. 19 http://browserling.com/
  20. 20 http://browserling.com/
  21. 21 http://mogotest.com/
  22. 22 http://mogotest.com/
  23. 23 http://www.cloudtesting.com/functional-testing/
  24. 24 http://www.cloudtesting.com/functional-testing/
  25. 25 http://www.browsercam.com/
  26. 26 http://www.browsercam.com/
  27. 27 http://www.multibrowserviewer.com/
  28. 28 http://www.multibrowserviewer.com/
  29. 29 http://crossbrowsertesting.com/
  30. 30 http://crossbrowsertesting.com/
  31. 31 https://browserlab.adobe.com/en-us/index.html#
  32. 32 http://browsershots.org/
  33. 33 http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/dd565874.aspx
  34. 34 http://www.lunascape.tv/
  35. 35 http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage
  36. 36 http://www.ipinfo.info/netrenderer/
  37. 37 http://spoon.net/browsers/
  38. 38 http://saucelabs.com/
  39. 39 http://www.browsera.com/
  40. 40 http://browserling.com/
  41. 41 http://mogotest.com/
  42. 42 http://www.cloudtesting.com/functional-testing/
  43. 43 http://www.browsercam.com/
  44. 44 http://www.multibrowserviewer.com/
  45. 45 http://crossbrowsertesting.com/
  46. 46 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/04/10/25-text-batch-processing-tools-reviewed/
  47. 47 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/06/17/useful-resources-tools-and-services-for-web-designers/
  48. 48 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/01/18/time-saving-and-educational-resources-for-web-designers/

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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

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  1. 1

    It’s hilarious that just as the industry starts coming together with standardized browsers, the industry revolutionizes itself with an array of different devices from desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones and now televisions. We’ve just basically substituted browser wars with device wars and the pain goes on.

    0
  2. 52

    It could be helpful if you guys ever mentioned the anyone perfect tool to test cross browser compatibility.
    I have read entire comments and details about above article but I am not getting any perfect solution.
    I am really sad about these above words and discussions.

    Does anyone help me out to find perfect cross browser testing tool?

    Thanks in advance for solution
    Mufeed Ahmad

    1
  3. 103

    WHAT?! How can you have a whole article about cross browser testing and only barely mention selenium!! It underpins several of those tools.
    You want cross browser testing go here:
    http://seleniumhq.org/projects/remote-control/
    http://seleniumhq.org/

    Then lookup “cucumber, capybara and selenium” and have a nice day!

    2
  4. 154

    There should be a tool similar to IETester, for testing in all the versions of Firefox , as mozilla has released new versions of firefox in such a hurry and i don’t think that everyone has upgraded to the latest browsers, there are people who are still using older versions of Firefox.

    Sometimes it becomes very painful when your page looks different in different versions of Firefox only, we can never force the end user/ client to use a particular version of browser, so we need to make the design compatible with all the versions of the same browser.

    Designing a page and coding it never takes time but making the same code cross browser compatible consumes lot of time and patience, i just cant understand how many hacks we need to apply to a single page just to render it perfectly on every browser ??

    0
  5. 205

    Wow, awesomely exhaustive and nicely researched post. One thing I’d like to know Cameron, if you had to pick one of the free versions to use, which would it be and why?

    0
  6. 256

    Spoon all the way!
    And for the IE testing just use a version of IE and test the other versions using the F12 button haha

    0
  7. 307

    iMagdy Production

    August 12, 2011 11:45 am

    Very interesting read, for me, I run Windows 7, and have installed Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and IE9, in IE9 there is something called Browser Mode and Document Mode in the developer tools when you press F12, this allows you to test IE7 and IE8 natively from within IE9, without using VMs or any special software for that, any body tried that?

    0
  8. 358

    Ive got parrallels installed on a mac with IE tester.

    Seems the best solution for me, but does slow down my mac a bit.

    0
  9. 409

    Thanks for great effort on listing dozen of cross browser testing tool.

    0
  10. 460

    Multi-Browser Viewer for me. The IE versions are as close as you are going to get and it is pretty convenient. Also I like the option of doing screen captures or standalone browsers. Automation would be a nice feature though.

    0
  11. 511

    Multiple versions rendering side by side is great but it would be more useful to me if I could navigate from page to page & interact with the page (websites and online applications) vs. just seeing a screen shot of each page. Any free/inexpensive tools out there that meet those requirements? Thanks.

    0
  12. 562

    For IE Testing.
    The visual results from Multiple IE tester are not that reliable
    IE9 has an advantage. As it also render your web page IE7 & 8.
    Need to evaluate IE10 also. (hoping for IE9,8 & 7 window also)

    0
  13. 613

    really useful stuff, i am new in development, but this really help me a lot of testing

    1
  14. 664

    Great article and round-up of the many options. We’ve come so far as a testing community!

    Some of my favorites not on the list:

    http://www.pushtotest.com/designer – TestMaker Object Designer, an open source alternative to HP QTP. Records tests in IE, Firefox, Webkit browsers (Safari, etc.,) Opera, Chrome

    http://www.soasta.com – Web app testing from the cloud

    http://www.sahi.co.in – Incredible tool for testing Ajax apps across browsers

    http://htmlunit.sourceforge.net/ – HtmlUnit – Ajax enabled headless Web browser framework.

    -Frank

    1
  15. 715

    Or you can test Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9 in Internet Explorer…

    http://otadesigns.posterous.com/how-do-i-check-internet-explorer-7-or-8-in-9

    Great tools but I’d rather have independent browsers. Firefox lets you download individual versions and Chrome/Safari users are usually smarter to keep up to date with current versions. I don’t support IE 6 or below. People need to get with the times.

    0
  16. 766

    Hello all,
    First of all, let me disclose my motivations – I work for ChangeBASE, an IT software company who specialize in automated application compatibility testing, remediation and conversion. We have a tool called AOK Browse-It which tests your entire estate of websites and web-based applications for compatibility with Internet Explorer 8. This tool can tell you which of your applications will work, which will require some form of remediation, and which contain fundamental incompatibilities, as well as detailing the issues raised.
    AOKLite is our free, downloadable evaluation tool which allows you to test a sample of your own applications. Why not give it a go if your worried about the compatibility of your websites?
    If you’re interested, AOKLite is available here: http://www.changebase.com/aoklite/aoklite.aspx

    0
  17. 817

    I have developed a free tool called CrossBro that enables you to instantly see changes to html coding and markup in real-time, enabling a true agile approach to website design.

    CrossBro simply monitors your source files (html, css, js etc) and refreshes all open browsers as you work.

    The tool currently works with IE, Firefox and Chrome (more to come, if interest increases)

    Watch the video tutorial
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2T61FSAlQc
    or visit the site and download here: http://www.crossbro.com

    Regards,
    Colin
    CrossBro – Designed to make cross browser development your first thought…not the last!
    http://www.colinord.com

    0
  18. 868

    Pulkit Kaushik | TheDolt

    September 27, 2011 8:29 am

    Good list. I really liked the compilation at the end.

    0
  19. 919

    Good comparison, wish BrowserStack was also included. I am currently evaluating browser compatibility testing tools and BrowserStack and Multi Browser Viewer are in the lead so far.

    2
  20. 1021

    Sweet – very informative article. As a PHP developer – I sometimes need to see and be reminded of cross browser testing and latest trends. Also check out back40design.com/news/m.blog/22/cross-browser-testing-why-it-s-important for more related content.

    0
  21. 1072

    We’ve created http://testingbot.com which offers an online Selenium grid.

    You can run your Selenium cross browser tests on our grid and perform cross browser testing. We can even run tests for you at a specific time and interval, and alert you when a test fails.

    This way you make sure your website is bug-free and working perfectly across all browsers.

    3
  22. 1123

    We create a new cross-browser testing tool named BrowseEmAll . It comes with 15 desktop and 7 mobile browsers and you can test sites hosted on your local machine.

    Moreover you can compare DOM and CSS among many browser. If you want, give it a try!

    2
  23. 1174

    OK! so does anyone know of a company I can just Pay to check these issues out. Cross browser testing services… pick your browsers and that it, they will test for you? I mean this is a huge market and I personally cant be bothered.

    I rather just pay.

    1
  24. 1225

    Great evaluation. Thank you for this.

    May I ask if there are cross browser tool(free or commercial) that fits my below needs:
    1. Can take screenshots of secure application page(e.g. page that required logins yahoomail.com for example) at once.
    2. Live testing: By entering the URL once it will run for multiple browsers.
    3. Live testing: By entering the URL once and loggin in at 1 user only it will run for multiple browsers.

    Thank you in advance!

    -Perfecto

    0
  25. 1276

    What about BrowserStack?

    0
  26. 1327

    Very interesting! Thanks for this article and to everyone for your feedback! Anyone using automated test case software like Selenium or SmartBear’s TestComplete with any of the solutions mentioned above?

    0
  27. 1378

    Adobe Browserlab is no longer available

    0
  28. 1429

    we are trying to test our development site on mobile devices (and regular browsers too).
    the development site is IP restricted.
    so we can’t use web based emulators that do their processing on servers that are blocked due to IP restriction.

    any ideas anyone? don’t need a bunch of features, just an idea what it looks&behaves like on android etc without buying every phone there is.

    0
  29. 1480

    Md. Mazharul Haq Totul

    June 11, 2013 2:14 pm

    From here I know a lot of things about Cross browser.
    Thanks!

    0
  30. 1531

    http://www.ontest.me/ Its new service for cross browser testing.

    0
  31. 1582

    Surprised there is no mention of browser stack!!

    0
  32. 1633

    Adobe Browserlab is not available anymore, you should really update this article guys!

    0
  33. 1684

    And there is a new http://www.testize.com service for cross-mobile site testing and issue discovery impacting site rendering across devices

    0

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