Browser Testing: What If You Don’t Have the Right Browsers?
In a recent blog post, I described the process we used recently to manage a rather large browser testing project. Because many of the browsers we needed to test were not the most current versions, it was difficult to find testers with those browsers.
For this project, we used a service called CrossBrowserTesting.com which provided a virtual browser environment that any tester could access from his/her own computer. Here are some of the pros and cons we discovered:
- Simplicity—The service was very easy to use. The registration process was quick and easy, and there was nothing to download or install. The process for conducting a test was also intuitive.
- Browser availability—The CrossBrowserTesting.com website offers over 1,000 combinations of browsers, OS, and plugins. Operating systems include Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu, while browsers include Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera , and Safari. You can also test on simulated mobile devices, including Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry Bold, and Windows Phone with their associated browsers. Because our tester used his own iPad, we did not utilize the mobile testing option.
- Free trial—Before purchasing a subscription, we were able to run some practice tests to see if we liked what we saw. If you’re interested in giving the website a test drive, you can try it for 7 days with a maximum usage of 60 minutes.
- Variable pricing—Subscriptions are bundled to meet testing needs in three different packages—150, 600, or 3,000 minutes per month. Given the large amount of testing we had to do, we went with the 3,000 minute package at a cost of $199.95. There are also yearly plans that offer the same number of minutes per month at a discounted price of 10% off.
- Customer service—I used both the toll-free phone number and the customer support email address. In both cases, I found the representatives to be friendly, responsive, and helpful.
- Snapshots and videos—CrossBroswerTesting.com offers users the ability to take snapshots or videos of problems they find while testing. They can then be shared with a public link. Many of our testers took advantage of this feature.
- Text rendering—When we began our testing, many of us noted issues with onscreen text. Letters looked like they were bleeding, and lines that looked like little hairs sprouted from random letters. When checking these issues against live browsers, we found that this happened only within the CrossBrowserTesting.com environment. We’re glad we caught this early; the issue was so prevalent that our testers would have wasted quite a bit of time logging it.
- Absence of audio—Unfortunately, it’s not possible to test a course’s audio on CrossBrowserTesting.com. On this project, that wasn’t a problem since there was no audio. On another project, however, we needed to be able to check the timing of several onscreen elements in relation to narration. That just wasn’t possible with this service.
- Screen size—For many of the browsers, the player didn’t quite fit in the screen, resulting in testers having to use a scroll bar when testing each slide. This was nothing more than an annoyance, but it was mentioned by several testers who were looking for a way to eliminate it.
- Lag time—Screens were sometimes slow to load, despite the fact that this course was made up of static screens that included very few graphics.
For this project, CrossBrowserTesting.com was a helpful solution. It wouldn’t work with every course, particularly those with items timed to narration, but it’s a service worth considering if you find yourself testing on browsers or operating systems you don’t have access to.
What solutions have you found for testing in multiple browsers, especially those that are outdated?