The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple Browsers

muo crossbrowser intro   The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple BrowsersWhich browser do you use?

Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari browser and Internet Explorer are all popular, as are a few less well-known examples such as Opera. However, as good as they all are (in their individual ways) these browsers all share a single failing – none of them displays a web page absolutely perfectly.

Unfortunately, due to the requirements of the software developers, most web browsers veer from the official HTML specifications, resulting in noticeable differences from browser to browser.

For most of us, this doesn’t really matter, although there are several reasons why you might wish to see how a particular web page looks when viewed through a different browser.

Why You Might Wish to Preview a Web Page

The most obvious is for website design purposes. With the basics of HTML and CSS now taught in schools, cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility is something that remains important, despite efforts by the developers of the main browsers to adhere to the guidelines specified by the W3C (World Wide Web Commission, of which Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a key member ).

Other reasons exist, however. For instance, you might wish to check how a web page that you visit often on your computer might look on your smartphone. You might also be considering a change of desktop browser or operating system but want to see how the software resolves a particular website, for example a site hosting browser-based games.

While it is easy enough to check the requirements of the browser you have in mind, checking the way in which a particular web page is displayed in many different browsers all at the same time is pretty cool.

BrowserShots

Quick and easy to use, BrowserShots enables you to enter a URL and select from a range of browsers, from Chrome 17 on Linux to SeaMonkey 1.1 on BSD, via pretty much any Windows browser you can think of on the way. Results can take a while to generate, sadly, as they are based on snapshots captured by a remote server hosting virtual versions of all of the operating systems and browsers involved.

muo crossbrowser3 cor   The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple Browsers

However you won’t find a wider selection of browsers and operating systems to test a web page with for free.

 

Sadly, BrowserShots doesn’t have any Mac OS versions or browsers to offer, but there is plenty of choice between Linux, Windows and BSD browsers.

You can start using this service now – head to [NO LONGER WORKS] browsershots.org.

Adobe Browser Lab

muo crossbrowser4   The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple Browsers

With fewer OS and browser options is Adobe Browser Lab, but don’t let the shortage of browsers put you off. This great tool allows you to view two different browsers side-by-side and even enables you to quickly switch from one browser to another.

In this respect, Adobe Browser Lab is the performance option – it is fast and efficient, and best of all completely free. I’m particularly impressed by the “onion skin” view, possibly the fastest way to identify differences in layout by overlaying one browser page render on top of another.

Part of their group of free tools, Adobe Browser Lab can be used by visiting and signing up at browserlab.adobe.com

CrossBrowserTesting

Rather like having a huge lab full of different computers running different operating system versions upon which all of the popular browsers and their various versions are installed, CrossBrowserTesting is an extremely powerful option.

muo crossbrowser2   The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple Browsers

You can literally check how a website appears in pretty much any combination of OS and browser that you can imagine, enabling you to track down any differences in seconds.

Offering a great combination of options, crossbrowsertesting.com isn’t free to use but offers a free trial on all price plans.

Spoon.Net

Rather than rely on a remote computer to run your cross browser testing, why not try Spoon, where you can launch any browser you care within a virtual environment that is accessed via your browser window?

muo crossbrowser   The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple Browsers

This useful service is accessed in conjunction with a desktop browser plugin, allowing the virtual browser application to launch on your desktop, where it remains fully accessible and usable.

Note that a signup is required to use this service, and that free use is restricted to 2 minutes per day.

Browsers are just a few of the desktop apps that are available from Spoon.Net – head to spoon.net/browsers to find out more.

Other Tools You Can Try

In addition to these excellent services, there are other methods you might consider to provide a reliable alternative look at a web page.

The most obvious is installing multiple browsers; you might have Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari installed on your computer along with Internet Explorer.

If you use a Mac or Linux computer and cannot install Internet Explorer, however, this could prove a particular stumbling block. Given that this browser is responsible for more compatibility issues than any of the others (historically speaking – the current versions are much more strict in their interpretation of HTML specifications) it should come as no surprise that there is a website that will display web pages in every version of IE. Head to netrenderer.com to try it.

Finally, don’t overlook the advantage of virtual machines. On a well-configured system you can run Mac OS X, Linux and Windows in VMs, all of which can be enhanced by multiple browsers, potentially allowing you a simultaneous look at how a particular web page might look.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

3 Comments -

0 votes

Karl Gephart

Another good one that costs is https://saucelabs.com/scouthome.

0 votes

alex

I have a few different browsers; but what I really like for my alternate browsers is to surf with the lightning speed of Maxthon 3 with the security of using a virtual machine. I find that this is by far the best way to do my non-regular browsing. And one thing I’m picking up more and more now is using a Knoppix live usb/dvd or Linux Mint live usb/dvd that way you have security you can take on the go along with your favorite browser and custom setup and bookmarks to use on just about any computer and using the usb means I can still save things I find online.

0 votes

Ricking

There are better tools like http://www.browserstack.com (I use) , http://www.saucelabs.com. The writer still seems to be stuck in Browsershots.