Probably one of the most laborious tasks we need to do as web designers is to perform cross-browser testing. Checking to see how your web site looks in the many different web browsers takes a lot of time. Adobe recently announced that they were opening a limited free trial for users of their new online application, BrowserLab, a tool for designers and developers to perform cross-browser testing.
Screenshots of actual browser renderings are generated in real time, with multiple viewing options to help pinpoint various issues. The options include:
- Check how a site looks in one browser at a time.
- Compare the same site side by side in different browsers.
- Use an “onion skin” mode that shows a site in multiple browsers overlaid one on top of the other
At the moment it is still a bit of a bare-bones structure, which presumably will be fleshed out before the full release. For instance, there is no Chrome browser option and no mobile browsers are represented, which I would consider to be essential these days. The list of browsers included in the trial is limited to Firefox 3.0 for Windows XP and OS X, Safari 3.0 and Internet Explorer 7 for Win XP. Having said that, what is there is easy to use and lets you test quickly. I think this service has the potential to be really helpful for designers.
Another feature that may be of particular interest to developers is the Dreamweaver CS4 integration with BrowserLab, which lets you preview local interactive page/app content (ajax/db-driven data, widgets and UI elements driven by JS, etc) by ‘freezing’ a particular page state and sending it directly to BrowserLab.
Adobe says they will eventually charge for the service as a paid subscription service. Note: At the time of publishing this post, Adobe had stop accepting users on the limited trial, but plan to take on another wave of users very soon. Check out the updates to find out when they are accepting more users.
In the meantime you can check out some other sites which offer a similar cross-browser testing features.
What other web sites or apps have you used offering this service? Is a cross-browser testing app something you would be willing to pay for?