Useful Tools for Testing Cross Browser Compatibility

By / Jan 22, 2010 / Tools
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A few weeks ago I gave you some tips for cross-compatibility, but in this article we are going to focus more specifically on cross-browser compatibility. Building websites to work properly and look good in multiple browsers is a fact of life that web designers must deal with. It is probably one of the most frustrating aspects of designing for the web, but thankfully there are tools out there that can help and hopefully keep you from pulling all of your hair out.

Adobe Browser Lab

Cross-Browser Compatibility

This tool shows screenshots of your website as seen by several different environments. The default test includes Firefox 3.0 on Windows XP and OS X, Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP, and Safari 3.0 on OS X.

You can change which browsers you’d like to test under “Browser Sets.” Another nice feature of this tool is a 2-up view that lets you compare side-by-side views of your site in different browsers. You’ll need an active account with Adobe to use the site.

Browser Shots

Cross-Browser Compatibility

You can view screenshots of your website as it displays in different browsers, with a great degree of customization. Browser shots lets you choose your screen size, color depth, JavaScript and Flash settings. This website features the kitchen sink of browser lists, including a few you may never have heard of before.

This is a great free option for glimpsing multiple browsers. Keep your requests speedy by selecting a small sample of browsers. You may need to grab a cup of coffee while you wait for your screenshots if you selected every browser from Avant to SeaMonkey.

SuperPreview

Cross-Browser Compatibility

Microsoft is working to make your life easier. No, really. This tool makes optimizing for the various IE platforms a little less painful. The SuperPreview download for Internet Explorer allows you to check your site in multiple versions of Internet Explorer.

Side-by-side viewing options stack horizontally or vertically. There’s also an overlay option to let you work out minute layout differences. Rulers, guides and other toys ease the burden of compatibility tweaks.

Unlike other testing options, SuperPreview allows you to test pages as you’re developing them on your local machine. Still under development, but a promising program already.

Litmus

Cross-Browser Compatibility

Beyond screenshots, this tool lets you check your site in multiple browsers, track bugs, and create reports to dazzle friends and family. This tool also works on password-protected sites, a unique feature among a screenshot-dominated market.

The tool is free for 50 tests per month, limited to Explorer 7 and Firefox 2. Access all 24 browsers for a $39 project pass.

Cross Browser Testing

Cross-Browser Compatibility

Pick an operating system, pick a browser, and off you go! Well-organized screenshot views on multiple browsers give you a nice overview of your site.

Going the extra mile, their live testing service gives you a hands-on view of your website on their bank of test machines.

Spoon Browser Sandbox

Cross-Browser Compatibility

A very sleek, fast tool that puts multiple browsers at your fingertips. From their launch page, you can test pages live in Safari, Chrome, IE, Firefox. One click opens a new window with your preferred browser. The next best thing to native environment test.

This tool requires a plug-in download, but the process is very fast and seamless afterwards.

Virtual Desktops

Cross-Browser Compatibility

Want more? To really get your hands on a website, you need to run multiple operating systems to get the full experience.

There are several programs available for you to do just that: VMWare, and of course Windows Virtual PC.

About the Author

Jessica Cox explores the far reaches of the Internet, researching the latest marketing, web design and development techniques for Aqua Vita Creative. Sign up for our newsletter for more news, tips and updates. @jessicafcox

39 Comments

  1. Bertram Simon
    January 22, 2010

    Check out IETester:
    http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage

    You cann check with this tool one page with IE5.5, IE6, IE7 and IE8. Painless;-)

    For a fast IE check use this online-service:

    http://meineipadresse.de/netrenderer/

    Reply
    • Tim
      January 22, 2010

      IeTester is also a tool that i would expect in a list like this. I use it all the time. A like the firebug point and track way of the plugins a lot!
      The tool is also free.
      On a side note: The tabs sometimes do crash on my win7 box…

      Reply
  2. Jason
    January 22, 2010

    Spoon Browser Sandbox is great. Solved my problems with Windows 7 and IE6 :)

    Reply
  3. WebDesignExpert.Me
    January 22, 2010

    Great list! You could also add browsercam.com and browsera.com which also help in testing web apps for cross browser compatibility!

    Reply
  4. Z
    January 22, 2010

    MS Superpreview is under development still? It’s been shipped with Expression Web 3 for months.

    Reply
  5. Adam
    January 22, 2010

    I also use Spoon Browser Sandbox. It’s very fast and useful :)

    Reply
  6. Maverick
    January 22, 2010

    hey thanks for this list. i generally use browsershots.org and i am quite impressed with it.

    Reply
  7. Jordan Walker
    January 22, 2010

    I use the virtual desktop approach, then I can truly get a feel for what users are seeing.

    Reply
  8. kevin
    January 22, 2010

    I’d add ietester:
    http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage

    Even if it’s just an alpha release, it’s pretty usefull.

    Reply
  9. Keith
    January 22, 2010

    Spoon is amazing! I went through flaming hoops to install a Virtual XP on my Win 7 laptop just to get IE6. Spoon eliminated all that pain. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Doug Yoder
    January 22, 2010

    For virtualization, give VirtualBox a try. It’s a great product created by Sun…open source and platform independent.

    http://www.virtualbox.org/

    Reply
    • foz
      January 24, 2010

      VirtualBox is great. Definitely more stable and than either Parallels or VirtualPC in my experience. I have Win2000, XP (IE 7/8), and Vista installed on my Mac for testing.

      Reply
  11. niraj
    January 22, 2010

    does this works on vista??

    Reply
  12. crispclean
    January 22, 2010

    Anyone a useful tip for testing html e-mail designs on different clients?

    Reply
    • subhash khatri
      October 17, 2013

      for e-newsletter check: https://litmus.com/

      Reply
  13. Jason Gross
    January 22, 2010

    Good article. Look for Adobe to continue developing their software to be a leader in this type of thing.

    To be honest I don’t know if I trust Microsoft since their software is the primary reason we need to do browser checking anyway!

    Reply
  14. Ted Goas
    January 22, 2010

    I’ve tried just about all of these and VMWare fusion is far an away the fastest, least frustrating way to test all browsers. Couple it with IETester (win) to cover each version of IE and you’re good to go!

    Reply
  15. Doug Yoder
    January 22, 2010

    @niraj it should work on Vista. Can’t say that I do much development on Vista, but it works good on my macbook pro and linux machines.

    Reply
  16. RK1
    January 23, 2010

    Good post – this will make my design life just a little bit easier. :)

    Reply
  17. Daniel Long
    January 25, 2010

    Adobe Browser Lab is a great tool that has helped me out no-end of times. A great feature is the 2 up screen mode, which enables you to compare to browsers side by side.
    ie tester is another great tool for testing cross browser compatibility, but when using a mac i will always stick to Adobe Browser Lab.

    Reply
  18. Jessica Cox
    February 2, 2010

    Thanks for the kudos and additional tips. It’s great seeing what everyone uses.

    @Jason & @Daniel, Adobe has always created solid tools. I’m interested to see where this one goes.

    Reply
  19. Jonathan
    February 5, 2010

    IMHO nothing beats having the browser installed natively in front of you, as close to how your users would have it as possible – either on your main OS or in Virtual PC 2007 – plus Microsoft provide 100% free XP and Vista (and maybe 7 now?) VPC images for testing, so you don’t have to worry about licenses!

    IETester et al are not 100% accurate and so you can’t be sure it’s rendering properly, so why risk it? And screenshot apps are so out of date – you can’t interact with the page (v. important in this age of JS heavy, interactive sites) or use tools like Firebug and the IE Toolbar to debug issues.

    So just grab VPC2007, extract the free image drives and away you go!

    Reply
  20. Shikeb Ali
    February 6, 2010

    You can also add this good website for IE testing http://ipinfo.info/netrenderer/

    Reply
  21. raffaello
    February 11, 2010

    I tried those tools but to me the best way is installing all the browsers I need in my OSX and then switching to Windows by using Virtualbox where you can put IE from 5 to 8 all toghether…. Great satisfaction :D

    Reply
  22. Testing Web Sites
    February 14, 2010

    That’s a good list of browser testing tools.

    Further testing tools (including browser compatibility) that may be of interest can be found here:

    http://www.testing-web-sites.co.uk/testing-tools/

    Reply
  23. Moshe
    February 27, 2010

    Good list, by far from being comprehensive. Did you check BrowserSeal – http://www.browserseal.com ?

    It has some nice features, for instance in addition to static screenshots it allows you to interact with the site with all ther supported browsers

    Reply
  24. Kevin Menard
    April 11, 2010

    Hi Jessica,

    Great list you have here. I’m hoping someday we can make it ;-) If you’re open for trying out some other services, I’d love hear what you think of MogoTest.

    Reply
  25. rbrill
    May 27, 2010

    IE Tester is great! and it’s free as mentioned above. It doesn’t always do so great you some hardcore javascript widgetry or frameworks but is perfect for testing XHTML and CSS builds on the fly while doing your web design. I use it almost all the time. Parallels for Mac is also very useful but can take time to set up. IE tester is easy to download, install and works within 5 minutes which is just what you need when stuck in the cross-browser scenario at the end of a build.

    Reply
    • Varun Gautam
      May 24, 2011

      Hi RBRILL,

      IETester supports only IE versions. But i also need to open my app in other browsers like FireFox and NetScape. Can u suggest some tool (an not web services) so that i can install and start my cross browser testing

      Thanks

      Reply
  26. Lucas Miami Web Design
    July 17, 2010

    I never knew all these existed. I use IE tester for the moment by I am changing to Mac because we had it with Windows and I really need a program that will work on mac.

    Reply
  27. Sarah
    October 12, 2010

    Browser Shots get a 502 Bad Gateway error and Adobe Browser Lab is not accurate.

    Reply
  28. Ralph
    February 18, 2011

    VMware Fusion rocks!

    Reply
  29. Nermeen Abdel Salam
    September 26, 2011

    Hi, i’m testing the compatability of a pages developed locally on my machine, not published on the internet. I tried to use SuperPreview of Microsoft and found that it only works on IE different versions. I need a tool that test the local pages but for IE, FF, Chrome, and Safari. Do you have any idea where i can find such a tool?
    Thanks.
    Nermeen AbdelSalam
    On-line Modern Solutions
    Egypt

    Reply
  30. Hiren Modi
    October 17, 2011

    Browser compatibility is very new subject for me. I am going to re-launch my eCommerce store[http://www.vistastores.com/]. I have made too many changes in design and code. I visited each and every tool which was listed by you in this blog post. But, all are over my head. Can any one recommend simple tool which help me to check for most famous browsers like FireFox, Safari, Chrome, IE and Opera. I don’t want to focus more on other browsers. I will but no for now. Thanks for such a great information.

    Reply
  31. Elijah – Web Design Orlando
    December 9, 2011

    thanks, using browser lab, but looking for something thats an app.

    Reply
  32. Burçlar
    December 25, 2011

    Browser Shots is not working. Do you have another FREE browser compatibility tool ?

    Reply
  33. Daniel Herken
    February 23, 2012

    Hi,

    our new cross-browser testing tool BrowseEmAll (www.browseemall.com) should also be considered for cross-browser testing.

    Greetings

    Reply
  34. Nicola
    June 20, 2012

    I just testet Adobe Browser Lab and I think the quality of the screenshoots really sucks. Also it is not accurate, It showed the View in Fierfox diffrently than it is in the real browser. Really not usefiul.

    I like browsershots, but it takes time. You can get Priority Processing which costs €23.95 EUR/month or €142.00 EUR/year. And it does not provide Mac Screenshots.

    Reply
  35. Karl
    June 21, 2012

    I have been using browserbite.com lately for cross-browser testing. Currently it’s free (including Mac).

    Karl

    Reply

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