What is the best tool for cross browser testing?

Spoon.net is the best free tool for cross browser testing! Spoon.net offers Microsoft Internet Explorer (6, 7 & 8), Mozilla Firefox (2,3 & 3.5), Apple Safari (3 & 4) and Google Chrome from the cloud. To stay up to date with the collection of browsers they offer, check:  Spoon.net/Browsers.You only have to download the Spoon plugin to enable you to test your applications in the browsers offered from the spoon.net server. The plugin enables you to run all these browsers as SaaS, so you do not have to install them on your system. If you would like to have even more browsers in more OSs available for testing your websites, you can even run your own spoon server, which is also free to download. As spoon offers fully functional browsers, it can actual be used as a testing tool for JavaScript developers. The many multi-browser screenshot services available on-line are nice for graphic designers who like to check what website looks like in different browsers. Web developers would most definitely prefer to use the browsers offered by Spoon as the cross browser testing tool.

Cross-browser testing

Websites are viewed with different browsers on different operating system. These browser/OS  combinations should all deal with HTML, CSS and JavaScript in the same way. Unfortunately they do not. That is why every website owner should test if his site works and renders properly in at least the most common browser/OS combinations. In the Google Analytics screen dumps below, you can see that Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and  Opera are the most common browsers. Depending on the time and budget available you can test on all or just a few browser/OS combo’s. Do not forget that of all browsers there are several versions available. As most browsers offer a semi automatic update you will find that most people use one of the latest versions available.

For proper testing I prefer to testing machines available of which I know exactly what is and what is not installed on it. Depending on the fonts that are installed and if ClearType (Windows only) switched on or of a site can look very different. There are a number of browser plugins that are not installed by default in most browsers like Java, Flash or SilverLight. To do a proper test on a website that uses these techniques you need machines where these plugins are not installed to see what is left of your site.  It can even be usefull to test a website with default functionality like JavaScript or CSS switched of. But for most test where you just want to know if your HTML, CSS and JavaScript will act and look like you intended, the browser plug-in available from spoon.net is a great solution. They offer a true cloud computing solution where you can run applications (including the most common browsers) on one of their servers and view the screen  get it pushed to your pc.  It is like Microsoft’s Remote Desktop or Citrix.

If you do not have the resources to get a testing room furnished with at least 10 computers  http://www.spoon.net/Browsers is the best alternative!

For people who just want to see screenshots of their site in different browsers for a cross-browser test, there are several multi-browser screenshot services available. Smashingmagazine.com tested most multi-browser screenshot services and wrote a in depth report about it. The table below is the outcome of their test.

Browsers supported Price (1 year)
BrowserShots IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Dilo, SeaMonkey, Minefield, Epiphany, Flock, Galeon, Konqueror, K-Meleon, Avant, Netscape, Shireteko, Kazehakase, Iceweasel Free
BrowserCam IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Konqueror, Camino, Netscape, AOL $999.95
BrowserLab IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari Free (till end of 2010)
SuperPreview IE, Firefox and Safari $149
BrowserSeal IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari $49
Litmus IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Flock, Camino, SeaMonkey, Netscape $588
Multi Browser Viewer IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Flock, SeaMonkey, Netscape, K-Meleon, Camino, Konqueror, Epiphany, Kazehakase $129.95
Browsera IE, Firefox, Safari $588