In this article (authored by Brian Jackson, keycdn.com) you will find 12 useful tools that you can use for your testing throughout different versions and types of browsers. KeyCDN is a high performance Content Delivery Network (CDN). Their global delivery network instantly speed up your websites, online games or software. Feature image courtesy of cunaplus via Bigstockphoto.
When it comes to designing and developing for the web, you will at some point in time inevitably come across a bug, compatibility and or rendering issue, with a browser in which you don’t have access to. Even with ever-improving standards support you almost always have to rely on third party tools to diagnose the issue. So today we want to cover the top 12 browser compatibility testing tools which you can use to debug problems and ensure all your visitors are receiving the same experience on your website or application.
Browser Compatibility Testing
Designing and development website and applications can be a lot of fun, but along with that also means a responsibility to ensure that everyone is receiving the same experience across different devices, browsers, operating systems, resolutions, etc. When you think about it, there is a lot that can go wrong, and most likely your project will never be perfect 100% of the time. But if you don’t, you could lose potential customers. Say for example your website doesn’t render properly in IE9. That customer might simply leave and visit your competitor who did spend time on browser compatibility testing.
This is your silly web browser doing that. The file is correctly named. – Rasmus Lerdorf, Father of PHP
What is Browser Testing?
Browser testing, also referred to as cross browser testing is the process of ensuring that your website or web application works as intended in any given browser. This can include both theclient side and the server side. This involves many different metrics, such as:
- Performance: Ensuring optimal web performance on all platforms.
- Mobile: Responsiveness for mobile browsers based on resolution, rotation, & viewport.
- User Interface: Checking to make sure the UI matches your original plans.
- Behavior: User experience throughout should be the same, navigation, links, dialog boxes, etc.
A couple questions you might need to answer:
- Do you need to support all browsers and or all operating systems?
- What legacy platforms do you need to and or are willing to support? If you have a current user base it can be important to check your analytics and logs to ensure you don’t lose customers on older platforms.
- Should your code fully validate on all platforms and browsers?
List of Browser Compatibility Testing Tools
There are a lot of different browser compatibility testing tools out there, below are 12 of the most popular ones. Each of them offers their own unique features, supported browser versions, platforms, and different ways to debug issues. Note: These are in no particular order and include both free and paid tools.
1. BrowserStack [paid]
BrowserStack is a very popular live, web-based browser testing tool used by some very big brands such as Microsoft, jQuery, Twitter, Airbnb, Bose, and Wikipedia. They give you instant access to a VM with dev tools. If you need to debug something fast without a lot of hassle, these guys make it almost a joy to start troubleshooting.
One of Browserstack’s best features is that they provide real browsers installed on real devices, so testing on them is just as good as testing on a browser installed on your local machine. They even have a local secure testing feature which is great for developers.
- A solid mix of 6 OS X and 5 Windows versions.
- 1000+ different browser versions including Firefox, IE, Edge, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Yandex and mobile versions such as iPhone, Nexus, and Samsung Galaxy.
- Test desktop resolutions from 800×600 to 2048×1536 and everything in-between.
Pricing starts at $29 / month which gives you unlimited live, unlimited screenshots, and responsive testing.
2. Browsershots [free]
Browsershots has been around since 2005 and focuses on one thing, and that is capturing screenshots within a browser. It was built on a unique idea of allowing people to volunteer computers to be the processing power. Currently it has over 65, what they like to call “screenshot factories.”
Browsershots is completely free, ad-driven and features over 200 different browser versions to capture screenshots from. Unfortunately one browser missing is Internet Explorer, which sometimes is the one needed most. But for a free service, they do a good job.
- Browsers supported range from Arora, Chrome, Dillo, Epiphany, Firefox, Iceweasel, Konqueror, Links, Laukit, Opera, SeaMonkey, and Safari.
- Test desktop resolutions from 640 px to 1600 px.
3. Browserling [free + paid]
Browserling is a live interactive cross-browser testing tool launched in 2010 by Peteris Krumins and James Halliday. There focus is all about getting you up and testing in a matter of seconds. Some of their customers include brands such as Teespring, NHS, PubNub, blekko, and coderwall.
Similarly to Browerstack, they also connect you with real browsers running on real machines so you can ensure that it is testing just as if you had it installed on your local machine. They even have Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Safari extensions.
- Browsers supported range from most versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Firefox.
- Operating systems supported range from Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 They also have Android mobile.
- SSH tunnels for local testing + API
They have both free and paid plans. The free plans include 3 minute sessions of IE9 on Windows Vista. Their paid plans start at $19 / month which include pretty much unlimited everything.
4. Litmus [paid]
Litmus is probably most famous for their email inbox testing, which they have been perfecting since 2005. They branched out into what they call page testing and allow you to see how your pages appear in popular web browsers on both desktop and mobile platforms. This is really geared more for designers, but could also be useful for developers.
One thing that is awesome about Litmus is their UI. Their tools are easy to navigate and are always very fast. They also have a cool share feature which allows you to send a page to another designer or developer to allow them to see it.
- Browsers supported range from Chrome, Firefox, IE 9, IE 10, IE 11, Safari, and mobile versions.
- Operating systems supported range from Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Pricing starts at $60 / month which gives page testing and also access to their email and spam filter testing.
5. IE NetRenderer [free]
IE NetRenderer is another screenshot service that has been around for quite some time. It allows you to check how a website is displayed by the numerous versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Older versions of Microsoft’s Web browsers are known for their sometimes unexpected behavior and failure to comply with W3C internet standards. This online tool is ideally suited for web designers working on Macs and Linux.
IE NetRenderer Features
IE NetRenderer is completely free to use, ad-driven, and unlike other screenshot services they are able to process a large number of capturing jobs in parallel and realtime, making it very fast.
- Browsers supported range from Internet Explorer 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5.5.
- Maximum usable viewing widths on 800×600 and 1024×768 displays.
6. Browser Sandbox [free + paid]
Browser Sandbox is a tool run by turbo.net, which allows you a unique way to test web browser issues. Turbo.net is a web-based container platform that runs desktop and server applications instantly on any Windows Desktop.
Browser Sandbox Features
- Browsers supported range from Internet Explorer 6 – 11, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and nightly builds.
- Click to run, with no install required.
They have a free plan which allows you to run the latest version of applications with 10GB of storage. Their legacy software paid plans start at $9.95 / month.
7 TestingBot [paid]
TestingBot is an automated and manual cross browser testing tool that launched in 2011. They run one of the largest Selenium Grids on the web.
- Browsers supported range from most versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Firefox. They also have mobile browsers.
- Operating systems supported range from Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Linux, and iOS. They also have mobile versions.
Their paid plans start at $30 / month 400 minutes automated, 2 concurrent VMs, 200 screenshots and unlimited manual tests.
8. BrowseEmAll [paid]
BrowseEmAll is another cross browser testing tool which focuses on live testing, screenshots and code analytics on your local machine. Some of their users include brands such as Blue Cross, OSU, Bank of Cardiff, and University Newcastle.
One nice little feature they have is a side by side browser UI testing dashboard which allows you to run up to 4 different browsers and mobile devices simultaneously.
- Browsers supported range from most versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Firefox. They also have mobile browsers.
- Test quickly using simulators for mobile operating systems like iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
Their paid plans start at $19 / month which gives you unlimited usage, 25+ desktop browsers, and the ability to run them on your local machine.
9. MultiBrowser [free + paid]
MultiBrowser is a responsive, mobile & cross-browser testing software, which launched in 2009. Some of their users include big brands such as xerox, at&t, Experian, and Nationwide.
Because of how MultiBrowser runs it is a Windows only product. You can run it using Parallels/VMware/Virtualbox though, in fact in many ways it is recommended as it allows you to return to a clean snapshot state at the start of each test.
- Run IE 6 – 11, Safari 5.1 all Firefox and Chrome versions as standalone browsers – test seamlessly on a single Windows desktop locally without VMs or tunnels.
- Debug your site in iPhone, iPad and Android emulators replete with landscape/portrait toggles, mobile network speed simulation, HTML5 markup validation, developer tools and built-in video recording.
They have free plans which allow you access to the latest 3 browsers and mobile emulators. Their paid plans start $149 per license and allow you access to everything.
10. CrossBrowserTesting [paid]
CrossBrowserTesting is exactly what it sounds like, a cross-browser testing service that launched in 2008. Test your website in dozens of browsers and real devices with instant results. Over one thousand combinations of browsers, OS platforms, and devices. They use real physical devices for all tests.
They have a cool automated screenshot feature which allows you to generate screens across hundreds of different platforms in just a matter of minutes.
- Browsers supported range from pretty much every version of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Firefox. 1500+ in total.
- 65 operating systems supported, including iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and more.
Their paid plans start at $29 / month which include unlimited manual tests, 150 minutes of automated testing, screenshots, and 2 concurrent tests.
11. equafy [free + paid]
equafy is a newer automated cross browser testing service suited to the needs of web design, development and quality assurance. They allow you to create test scenarios, select browsers and resolutions, and check the cross browser differences.
- Browsers supported range from most versions of Internet Explorer (IE8 – 11), Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. They also have mobile browsers.
- Unique auto scan feature for improving your testing.
They have have free plans which include 600 automated tests, and windows & linux browsers. Their paid plans start at $9 / month and include additional browser support. One unique feature to equafy is they support open source. Open source projects can use their service for free.
12. Sauce Labs [free + paid]
Sauce Labs is a very popular cross browser testing tool among developers that features Selenium testing, mobile testing, and JS unit testing. Some of their customers include brands such as Yahoo, zendesk, lyft, intuit, OpenDNS, and HP.
Sauce Labs Features
They offer both automated testing and manual testing features.
- Browsers supported range from pretty much every version of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Firefox. 1500+ in total. They also have mobile browsers.
- Operating systems supported range from Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Linux, and OS X. They also have mobile versions.
Other Misc Browser Testing Tools
Here are a couple other testing tools that definitely deserve a mention.
- IETester: This project doesn’t seem to be actively updated anymore, but still offers a good free way to test Internet Explorer versions 5 through 11.
- Lunascape: A free web browser which uniquely features the ability to switch between three different rendering engines, Trident, Gecko, and WebKit.
- Ghostlab: Test any website on various browsers and mobile devices simultaneously.
And don’t forget that Chrome DevTools and Firefox Developer Tools both have responsive design modes to test against different resolutions.
Another way to easily test and debug browser compatibility issues is to use a virtual machine. Here are some options:
As you can see there are plenty browser compatibility testing tools to help you diagnose any issue that might come up. As a web developer and designer it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone receives the same experience across all devices, whether it be on an old version of IE, or on their iPhone.
Did we miss any really important ones? If so, feel free to comment below.