QtWeb – An Alternative Browser for Webkit Testing

QtWebWouldn’t life be boring if we only had one browser to test our websites? It would be like 2002 all over again!

In a rapidly expanding browser market, QtWeb may have escaped your attention. It is an open-source project that has only been available for a few months, but it is already in version 2 and could be of interest to web developers or those who rely on portable applications.

First and foremost, QtWeb is a lightweight and nimble browser. The installation package is 5Mb and there is a ZIP version that can be installed on a USB drive or any other location. It works on any Windows version from 2000 and most users will just need the single QtWeb.exe executable.

QtWeb screenshot

Its minimal requirements means that QtWeb starts quickly and feels responsive. The interface is reminiscent of Firefox but a little amateurish. That said, it is functional, the icons are obvious, and the toolbars can be moved around at will – even outside the browser window. It has all the standard features you would expect from a modern browser:

  • a search bar
  • bookmark import and export
  • tabs and session support
  • download management
  • blocking of pop-ups, cookies, JavaScript, and images
  • SSL, FTP and plug-in support

It even offers a unique virtual on-screen keyboard so you can enter secure data or passwords without worrying about key loggers.

As a portable browser, QtWeb easily beats the competition. Copy the exe to a USB drive, import your bookmarks, and you have a secure browser that can be run from any Windows PC. It is far faster and less resource-hungry than the portable edition of Firefox.

Whilst few people would use QtWeb as their default browser, developers should note that it uses the same WebKit rendering engine as Apple Safari and Google Chrome (it is a slightly older version than Safari 4 Beta, but newer than Chrome). In my brief tests, it rendered pages identically to both. It also offers the excellent web inspector – a feature that is missing from Chrome:

web inspector

I was impressed with QtWeb. The developers identified their niche and make no presumptions about it taking over the browser market. It is great for portable browsing, but is also ideal for quick and dirty WebKit testing without having to install Safari or Chrome on your development PC.

Visit the QtWeb website

See also:

Are you using QtWeb? Is it a viable testing alternative to Safari or Chrome? Has it become your default browser?

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  • Tommy Carlier

    I have one correction: Google Chrome does have the Web Inspector. Click the Page-button, go to “Developer” > “JavaScript console”.

  • http://www.fldtrace.com Recruit

    I have just installed it to check a website of mine. The design of this website, is interpreted differently in Safari, compared with Firefox for win, IE 7+, Opera and Google Chrome, where it looks perfect.

    It seems that safari and firefox for Mac interprets background-position differently and shifts away 1 px for this particular website. From my first observation, QtWeb reads this website like Safari but a web developer can’t rely to test website for google chrome.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Recruit
    That’s interesting. Could it be anything to do with rounding errors on percentage positioning? Could you send the URL?

    It’s possible that the next version of Chrome will update the WebKit engine so the problem will occur in that too.

  • Tarh

    It even offers a unique virtual on-screen keyboard so you can enter secure data or passwords without worrying about key loggers.

     
    That’s dangerous thinking. The sad truth is that most modern keyloggers go far beyond their namesake; the majority will take a cropped screenshot around any mouse clicks to defeat systems just like this. The bottom line is: once something is allowed to execute unrestricted on your system, there’s nothing you can do.

  • mitja

    @ Tommy Carlier – yes, Chrome does, but oddly Google has not updated the Web Inspector to the latest version from the WebKit trunk even in v2. Hence, it suffers from the same frustrating symptoms as Chrome v.1, ie. doesn’t inspect the correct element half the time, doesn’t find elements when searching all the time, doesn’t dock as part of the main window, and has no usable JavaScript debugger.

  • yogomozilla

    There are a number of other implementations of Qt/Webkit based browsers available:

    The venerable Konquerer, which uses KHTML (from which Webkit was forked) as its rendering engine can be run with Webkit, although it (webkitkde) is still in development and has a few bugs. KDE4/Kubuntu users can install the webkitkde package and choose Webkit as the view mode.

    The Qt based browser Arora uses Webkit as its rendering engine and has packages available for Mac, Linux and Windows. It’s quite fast ;)

    There is quite a bit more info on the Qt development blog regarding webkit integration.

    Now, if only IE would ship an option allowing web developers to enable Webkit as its rendering engine :D

    Enjoy

  • http://www.fldtrace.com Recruit

    Craig Buckler Says:
    May 4th, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    @Recruit
    That’s interesting. Could it be anything to do with rounding errors on percentage positioning? Could you send the URL?

    It’s possible that the next version of Chrome will update the WebKit engine so the problem will occur in that too.

    Here I have a link for you to check:
    http://evolvingconsciousness.org/static/

    I tried couple techniques to export the design provided by designer, but I get the same 1 pixel jog for bubble from navigation, in Safari and 2 px jog, in firefox for mac. I tried to express background-position in percent, em, event in points but is the same.

    If you check the link in QtWeb, Safari and Google Chrome you will see the difference.

  • BPartch

    I like this browser, uses barely any RAM at all. Like mentioned in the article not for day to day browsing, but having it on my thumb drive for testing works great.

    Thanks for the tip!

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    Safari 4 is only 5 megabytes. I don’t see how you gain enough here to make it worthwhile. Also, the whole point of QA is to impersonate actual users, so a key thing is to use the software they’re actually using.

    If your stuff runs in Safari 4 then it runs on the Mac and probably the iPhone and iPod. That’s 80 million or so highly engaged users. It’s worth installing Safari 4 on your Windows box even if it’s not your main browser.