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Tools to test your website in different browsers

Internet users from all over the world are now using a wide variety of operating systems, browsers (Firefox, Safari, IE etc.) and browser versions. With such a range of possibilities, it’s only natural that a website can and will look different to some of the viewers. Therefore it’s a big challenge for every web builder to make sure that their pages are displayed properly to the visitors, regardless of their browser of choice. For example, just because a design looks good in Firefox, it doesn’t mean it will work the same way in IE! This is why testing websites in different browsers in different browsers before they go live is a vital thing, from a design perspective.

website-test

website-test

The fact that multiple versions of some browsers or browser versions can’t co-exist with each other on the same operating system is a concern for many people. This article explores different tools that will allow you to test your web pages with multiple browsers on one single system.

Browsershots

browser-shots

browser-shots

Browsershots is an online, free and open-source tool that proves to be very helpful in this kind of situations. It simply makes snapshots of your design in different browsers. It is a smart and accessible way to get your website tested, and it was created by Johann C. Rocholl. The moment you send a web address, it is added to a queue and a number of assigned computers will open the web page in their browsers. Afterwards snapshots of the screen are created and uploaded on the main server. It is quite a versatile tool and you should keep in mind that it provides several options that you can choose to turn on and off: screen size, color depth, Javascript, Java, Flash.

IE NetRenderer

net-renderer

net-renderer

This next tool is specialized in testing web pages in different versions of IE (5.5, 6, 7, 8 and 9). Even now after a decade web builders must be careful when it comes to older browsers like IE6 when converting design. Contrary to what some people expect, what works in IE 8 or IE 7 doesn’t necessarily do the same in IE 6. Netrenderer is a simple and convenient tool – you just have to type in the website you want to test and select the version of IE. There is also an interesting mode in which one screenshot shows the layout differences between IE6 and IE7. The main advantage of using NetRenderer is the fact that the results are immediately displayed.

Browserling

browser-ling

browser-ling

Here’s another smart tool for cross-browsing testing: Browserling. It doesn’t require any plugins to work and it relies on virtual machines to do the embedding. The main concern is that you’ll often have to wait in queue for a while, and this is because the number of users connecting to this service is limited. Another drawback is the fact that it only works for Windows users. But it also has a serious upper hand over other online browser testing tools: the result is an interactive look at the website instead of plain screenshots.

VMWare Fusion

vmware-tool

vmware-tool

There’s a rapid increase in Mac users, especially when it comes to web designers. So how can you test your website in different browsers when using a Mac? Of course Browsershots can cut it in certain cases, but it’s strongly suggested to use a virtualization product such as VMWare Fusion. This tool will allow you to run a virtual copy of Windows inside OSX. You can just choose to run IE alongside your Mac development apps and simply make changes as you test. This is the only tool mentioned in this article which isn’t free, but considering the amount time that it will save, it’s well worth its money.

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