Why cross browser testing is important

Cross browser testing has been around for some time now and gaining a lot of traction with availability of multiple browsers, platforms, OS and devices, Rahul Jain, Marketing Manager at Gallop Solutions, explains.

There are multiple tools available in market that can cater to a user’s cross browser testing needs and makes it easier to enhance user experience and at same time reduce the time to market.

But before coming to which tool is a good fit, it is necessary to determine why cross browser testing is needed.

Why is cross browser testing important

When it comes to a site or web application, it is important to make sure that it is fully functional and everyone visiting the site gets a good experience irrespective of the device or browser they are using.

Though the name ‘cross browser testing’ only suggests that it is testing on multiple browsers, in reality it is a combination of browsers, platforms, OS and devices, which is needed.

Each browser has its own language and it sees the application/website code differently. The coder and designer should make sure that all the browsers interpret it similarly to give a good experience to the end user.

There are many browsers currently in the market, each with multiple versions. With every new version of the browser, it becomes difficult to check if your site is supported on that version. Cross browser testing tools make it easy to test your site on multiple browsers and their multiple versions.

Widely used browsers include:

  • Chrome
  • IE
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Android Default Browser
  • UC Browser
  • Opera

The percentage of usage and market share may differ based on region. A detailed analysis can be seen here. An organisation should make sure that most of these browsers are supported.

Different mobile platforms

Mobile is also one of the reasons that cross browser testing is becoming a must. With so many mobile devices launching every year, it becomes important that your site opens correctly on those devices. You do not want any user to leave your site because it’s not compatible to their device.

Every user has a preference for a browser, operating system and device, and organisations should be checking the various combinations to ensure that quality is ensured on each of those combinations.

The various combinations can be as follows:

  • Google Chrome on Windows and Mac.
  • Firefox on Windows, Mac, Linux.
  • Chrome on Android and iOS.
  • And many more.

It’s easier to test on the new browsers as you can download and install them but it becomes difficult to gauge which browser version your user is using, and thus you need to test on different browser versions too.

The CSS render differently on different browsers and browser versions and thus it becomes important that you use a cross browser testing tool to check across multiple combinations.

Various cross browser testing tools

There are many cross browser testing tools available in the market and various testing services companies have also built their cross browser test accelerators to make it easy to test a site.

Based on the evaluation of multiple tools, I have zeroed on the three tools listed below:

  • Saucelabs
  • Browserstack
  • Crossbrowsertesting.com

There are also other tools such as Spoon, TestingBot, Ghostlab and Multibrowser. But the three mentioned above are the most famous and comes with lot of functionalities. Their support is good too.

Almost all of them comes with a free trial option and thus can be tried before using them. Also if you have an open source project, it will be totally free of cost.

Free tools

Selenium WebDriver and Appium can be used as a free option for web automation and mobile automation respectively. But you should be really only be using them if you are technically very good.

Most of the commercial cross browser test automation tools are based on the open source automation tool Selenium, but they have built a good UI/functionality for the users on top, which makes it easier for test on multiple browsers.

Selenium can be a good option if there familiarity with Core Selenium.

Summary

If you are looking to just test the appearance of your site on various operating system and browsers then Browershots or Mobile Ready might be good to use. But if you want a fully functional, end-to-end testing on hundreds of combinations of browsers, devices and OS then you should be going for a tool like Saucelabs or Browserstack.

Whatever you choose, just take a trial version of these tools before choosing one. This will help you do a real time evaluation of the tool based on your requirement.

Edited for web by Cecilia Rehn.

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