How to Cross-Browser Test with the Best of the Best

Posted Mar 1st, 2022

With thousands of different web browsers, operating systems, and device combinations available, it’s impossible for software companies to control their users’ environments. All of these choices put the control in the hands of the user: if your web application or website is glitchy or looks bad on the browser they use, then you’ve probably lost that user as a customer.

What software development and QA teams can control is that their web application or website delivers a consistent user experience for every single customer, regardless of what browser/OS/device combination they have. While this might feel like an impossible task, there’s a solution, and it’s cross-browser testing.

What is cross-browser testing?

Cross-browser testing involves testing a web application or website across multiple browsers to see how your application looks, functions, and performs on different browser/OS/device combinations. Cross-browser testing allows you to identify and fix any issues prior to release to ensure every customer has a positive user experience with your product.

Different browsers may have different underlying technologies. For example, software written for the web, particularly JavaScipt and CSS, may look and behave slightly differently across different browsers, operating systems, and versions of both. 

Each web browser handles JavaScript differently. Google’s V8, the most-used JavaScript engine, is used by Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and other Chromium-based browsers. V8 is also used on the server-side, such as with the Couchbase database server and the node.js runtime environment. Safari uses the JavaScriptCore JavaScript engine, while Firefox uses the SpiderMonkey engine developed in a combination of C and C++. Starting in version 9, Internet Explorer uses Microsoft’s Chakra JavaScript engine.

Why is cross-browser testing important?

Cross-browser testing is a critical piece of your web app testing strategy because it helps to build your organization’s digital confidence. Ensuring your web application or website delivers a consistent user experience across every browser, operating system and device create a level of certainty that allows software development teams to release software faster without sacrificing quality.

In addition, a sound cross-browser testing strategy can unlock new revenue opportunities: more supported browsers mean more routes to market.

Here’s an example of why cross-browser testing matters: think about a page element that is common across all different kinds of software, such as a date picker. Date pickers have certain standard features like selecting a month, year, and specific days, as well as a way to trigger the date picker to open and close.

One browser might display the month chooser with left and right arrows for pagination, while another browser might not include arrows at all. Scenarios like this happen because of the combination of the JavaScript library used to implement the datepicker and the JavaScript engine used by the web browser.

What tools are used for cross-browser testing?

While cross-browser testing is critical to your web testing strategy, it can be challenging and expensive to access all the different browser/OS/device combinations you need to ensure comprehensive testing. While some organizations may choose to build their own internal grid using Selenium and maintain internal machines or devices themselves, this option can be costly and time-consuming.

The alternative is to move to a cloud-based cross-browser testing solution. Cloud-based cross-browser testing platforms provide the infrastructure and tools to support cross-browser testing across all browser/OS/device combinations.

One of the major benefits of cloud-based cross-browser testing is that it enables parallel testing. Running automated tests across multiple browsers at the same time increases the speed and efficiency of your testing process, reducing overall testing time and costs.

Another benefit of cloud-based cross-browser testing is that it allows for visual testing, which is another way to speed up your testing process.

Best practices for cross-browser testing

Getting started with cross-browser testing requires thoughtful planning to ensure a smooth and effective rollout. The first step is to choose the cloud-based cross-browser testing platform that best meets your organization’s unique needs and requirements. The right tool can help your software development team scale testing coverage without compromising speed or quality.

Next, you need to build a comprehensive strategy for how cross-browser testing will be incorporated into your software development and QA processes. Your cross-browser testing strategy should incorporate the browsers and platforms your customers are using, as well as what types of tests you’ll run (automated vs. manual, visual testing, parallel testing, etc.).

It’s also important to plan for when your cross-browser tests will run—the earlier you can incorporate cross-browser testing in your testing process, the better you can prevent delays in the development process because of late-stage bugs.

Conclusion

While the idea of changing testing practices can seem overwhelming, there are many resources available that walk you through the process step-by-step. Check out this article from Sauce Labs around exactly where to start and what kind of questions you need to ask your team to begin cross-browser testing. If you and your team are currently using a cross-browser testing tool and want to see how your tool stacks up, Sauce Labs also has an article to assist you with some questions that you can find here.


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Sauce Labs


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Cross-browser testing

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