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Multi-Browser testing, this is the way!

» posted 4724 days ago @ 01:36 PM by George Merlocco in web

Developing professional websites can be a daunting task, especially when your client wants all the bells and whistles. After adding more and more of these fancy effects and complex layouts, the chances that your website might not display 100% correctly in other browsers rises. I have been plagued with this sort of thing since IE5 and Firefox v1/Netscape, and it's come to the point that I needed a better solution. Microsoft now believes in web-standards (finally!!) and this could definitely make our lives as web devs/designers easier. Their new product line, Expression, aims to compete with Adobe Flash in the rich media internet experience, and they are claiming that Expression will build standards-based websites out of the box. I can only hope...

There will never be an escape from tweaking small things to look perfect in every browser, but there are some tips that can help you develop a better, more browser-friendly website. What I've done recently is obtain a copy of VMWare Server which is completely free. After that, I installed an old copy of Windows XP on the VM, and loaded it with all of the different browsers I could find. Thanks to the help of a few dedicated people, it is now possible to install multiple versions of Internet Explorer, and have them run synchronous in standalone mode. Here's what I currently have on my VM (IE7 is tested through my Windows Vista, more notes below):

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer v3/v4/v5.01/v5.5/v6
  • Mozilla Firefox v1.5/v2.0.0.6
  • Opera v9.22
  • Safari v3.0 beta

If you're looking to grab these browsers, or pretty much ANY browser that has been released (seriously), then you should hop on over to Evolt.org where they have a huge Browser Archive for you to pick your favourites from. All sorts of old-school browsers are in here, as well as many new ones with certain tweaks (Internet Explorer Standalone anyone?). Using IE Standalone, I was able to get all of those versions above working in my XP VM.

If you're a lucky user of VMWare Workstation, and have the VMWare Player application, you can download an image of MultiBrowser Appliance which runs Debian GNU/Linux 3.1, and allows for you to test in such browsers as Konqueror, Lynx, and all of the other Linux-based browsers out there.

Users of Windows Vista must note that the above Multiple-IE installer will NOT work properly, and there's a forum post which covers that issue. Microsoft's supplemental EULA also states that "IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VALID EULA FOR ANY "OS PRODUCT", YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO INSTALL, COPY, OR OTHERWISE USE THE OS COMPONENTS AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS UNDER THIS SUPPLEMENTAL EULA.", so make sure you stay legal with this one peeps!

Hopefully you've found this post informative, as I always enjoy making life easier for myself by using this development method. Of course, if you're reading this and think that you have a better way (or even other tips), make sure you post a comment!

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