A Full Beginners Guide to Cross Browser Testing:
Cross Browser Testing refers to the process of verifying the compatibility of an application across different browsers. It aims to ensure that the application functions as expected and degrades gracefully on all supported browsers.
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Oftentimes, when encountering issues with a website, technical support will suggest trying a different browser. Surprisingly, this simple solution often resolves the problem, making us feel like fools despite working in the software industry.
Surely, this has happened to many of you, hasn’t it?
But the truth is, it’s not our fault. Often, websites have not undergone extensive cross-browser compatibility testing, leaving end users to stumble upon these bugs.
What You Will Learn:
- What is Cross Browser Testing?
- Why Is It Performed?
- Who Performs This Testing?
- How to Perform Cross Browser Testing?
- Recommended Tools
- When to Start This Testing?
- What to Test?
- To summarize “how” to cross-browser test
- When is the best time to do this?
We often come across websites that do not display properly on certain browsers, leading us to believe that the website is broken. However, when we open the same website on a different browser, it works perfectly fine. This discrepancy highlights the importance of considering browser compatibility when developing a website.
Recommended reading =>> Top 10 Browsers for PC
Each browser interprets web pages differently, and some browsers may lack the features required by your website, resulting in a broken appearance. For example, the signup form errors and the text color and font may vary between browsers.
With the abundance of browser choices available today, it is not sufficient to ensure that a website functions properly on just one browser. Users should be able to access your application using any browser of their choice. Hence, it is crucial to test the compatibility of your website with different browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
In light of this, let’s delve into the topic of today’s discussion – Cross Browser Testing.
As is customary at STH, we will begin by addressing the basics. We believe that any concept becomes clearer when we explore the fundamental questions, such as “What, why, how, who, when, and where.”
So, let’s get started.
What is Cross Browser Testing?
#1) Cross-browser testing is the process of testing your website or application across multiple browsers to ensure consistent functionality and quality without any compromises.
#2) This type of testing applies to both web and mobile applications.
#3) Which applications undergo this testing? – Customer-facing applications. All applications cater to customers, but let’s consider this example:
Application 1: An internal application used by a company to track inventory.
Application 2: An application for end-users to purchase products from the company.
- For browser compatibility testing, it makes more sense to focus on testing Application 2 since it is impossible to control which browsers/platforms/versions end-users will use.
- On the other hand, if all internal company computers use Windows 8 machines with Chrome, there is no need to test Application 1 on other browser versions.
Why Is It Performed?
Why do we perform any testing in the first place?
- To identify and fix issues.
- To improve efficiency, user experience, and overall business.
- To anticipate and address potential pitfalls.
Specifically, the purpose of cross-browser testing can be summarized in two aspects:
- Ensuring consistent rendering or appearance of web pages across different browsers and identifying any significant discrepancies.
- Verifying the functionality and performance of the application on different browsers.
Who Performs This Testing?
- Now you might be thinking, “With countless browsers, versions, and platforms, which ones should we choose?” Thankfully, this decision does not fall solely on the tester. The client, business analysis team, and marketing teams play a crucial role in determining the supported browsers. Additionally, companies collect usage statistics to determine which browsers, environments, and devices are most commonly used.
- The entire project team must be invested in cross-browser testing, allocating time, resources, and infrastructure accordingly.
- The QA team may conduct this testing, or it could be the design team’s responsibility to assess how the application performs across multiple browsers.
- Whether it is the QA team or another team, the design and development teams interpret the results and make the necessary changes.
How to Perform Cross Browser Testing?
Now comes the exciting part!
First things first – should you perform manual testing or use tools?
While manual testing can be conducted by running the same test cases on different browsers and observing their behavior, it has its limitations in terms of browser coverage and testing major versions. Manual cross-browser testing is also costly and time-consuming.
Alternatively, automated testing is a more efficient approach.
Cross-browser testing involves running the same set of test cases on different browsers. This is a repetitive task that is best suited for automation. Therefore, using tools to automate this testing process is more cost-effective and time-efficient.
Fortunately, there are numerous tools available on the market to facilitate cross-browser testing.
These tools offer various functionalities:
- They provide a Virtual Private Machine (VPN) that enables testers to connect to remote machines and assess the performance and rendering of Java, AJAX, HTML, and Flash pages. However, it is important to exercise caution when sharing sensitive information with third-party services.
- They capture screenshots of pages and links to display their appearance in multiple browsers, providing a static visualization.
- They synchronize multiple browsers, enabling simultaneous operations on one browser and providing results specific to each browser.
- They demonstrate the rendering of a page at different screen resolutions.
- When encountering problems, they record videos or capture screenshots to facilitate further analysis of the issues.
- These tools commonly support both web and mobile applications.
- They can test private pages that require authentication and also handle testing of local, private network/firewall pages.
LambdaTest is a cloud-based cross-browser testing platform that enables users to perform automated and manual compatibility testing of their websites or web applications across 2000+ different browser and operating system combinations.
One can run Selenium automation tests on a scalable, secure, and reliable cloud-based Selenium grid and conduct live interactive cross-browser testing of public or locally hosted websites or web apps.
CrossBrowserTesting is a cloud-based web and mobile testing platform provided by SmartBear. It allows you to ensure a perfect web experience on any browser or mobile device through their cloud-based real device lab. By eliminating the need for virtual machines and device labs, you can easily conduct manual, visual, and Selenium tests on 2050+ real desktop and mobile browsers.
If you are a non-technical user looking to expedite your testing, consider their Record & Replay feature, which enables you to record a live test and run it in parallel.
Selenium is widely recognized for its automated testing capabilities for web-based applications. It simplifies running the same test cases on different browsers by allowing users to switch between browsers effortlessly.
BrowserStack is a cloud-based web and mobile testing platform that enables testing of applications on-demand across a multitude of browsers, operating systems, and real mobile devices.
Browserling offers a live interactive service that provides effortless testing for web developers and designers. With quick access to popular browsers on various operating systems, Browserling simplifies compatibility testing.
=> Further Reading: Complete list of Cross Browser Testing tools
When to Start This Testing?
The best time to start cross-browser testing depends on your testing methodology and timeline.
This testing can be performed at different stages:
#1) As soon as possible:
Commence testing as soon as a single web page is ready for testing. Test each page on multiple browsers. As subsequent pages become available, repeat the process. This incremental approach helps identify and address errors early in the development lifecycle, resulting in cost-effective bug fixes.
#2) When the application is complete:
Initiate testing when the application development is complete. This entails testing the entire application on various browsers. Although fixing errors may not be as cost-effective as in the first scenario, this approach ensures that bugs are resolved before releasing the application to users.
#3) After the application is released:
Performing cross-browser testing after the application is released is not ideal but better than leaving end-users with a subpar experience. In this case, testing can be conducted as part of change requests. However, this approach is costly and may require multiple deployments depending on the fixes required.
Cross-browser testing requires individuals with knowledge of testing tools. Business users or even developers can perform high-level, targeted testing on specific browsers, while thorough testing involving different browsers should be carried out by the team responsible for functional and non-functional testing.
To perform cross-browser testing, testers need access to the required browsers. Browsers can be made available in the following ways:
- Local installation on the tester’s machine
- Virtual machines or other machines accessible to the tester
- Tools that provide their own browsers and versions for testing
- Browser access on the cloud, allowing multiple testers to use browsers on demand
Cross-browser testing can be conducted in development, test, QA, or even production environments, depending on the availability of the application.
What to Test?
- Base Functionality: Test links, dialogs, menus, and other fundamental features.
- Graphical User Interface: Evaluate the overall look and feel of the application.
- Response: Assess how well the application responds to user actions.
- Performance: Verify that pages load within the specified time frame.
A successful experience on one browser does not guarantee a seamless experience on other browsers. Cross-browser testing helps identify and address issues specific to different browsers, ensuring that your application runs smoothly.
By performing this testing, you can identify browser-specific issues, make appropriate fixes, and inform users if a browser is not supported.
In Summary: How to Perform Cross-Browser Testing
#1. Analyze traffic statistics to determine which browsers to test.
#2. Assess the application under test (AUT) to identify which parts require testing. It is recommended to conduct comprehensive testing on one browser per platform, while focusing on critical and widely used functionality for the remaining browsers.
#3. Consider the infrastructure required for testing, such as tools or manual approaches. Factors to consider include cost, feasibility, risk, security, resources, and the process for fixing issues and defects.
#4. Begin the testing process. Regular functional test cases can be used to validate system efficiency, while visual test cases may not be necessary.
In my case, the failed operation was an online bank transfer. After logging into my bank account, selecting the account, and attempting the transfer, a servlet error appeared repeatedly. If this transfer operation were selected for cross-browser testing, the test script would look as follows:
- Log in to the online bank account
- Select the account for the transfer
- Enter the transfer amount: 100,000
- Select the payee and click “Transfer”
- Expected result: A successful transfer
- Repeat the test on all chosen browsers
It is worth noting that this type of testing may appear similar to functional testing. Refer to non-functional testing articles for more information.
#5. Report the results to the design team if they were not involved in the testing process. Make the necessary changes based on the results.
When is the Best Time to Perform Cross-Browser Testing?
Testing yields the greatest benefits when performed early in the software development process. Therefore, it is recommended to begin cross-browser testing as soon as page designs are available. Nonetheless, testing can still be conducted when the site is fully integrated and functional.
If you missed the opportunity to perform cross-browser testing during the design, development, and QA phases, it can still be done when the application is in production. However, this approach is the costliest and carries some risks.
Where is cross-browser testing performed?
Typically, cross-browser testing can be conducted in any or all of the following environments: Dev, QA, and Production. However, for this type of testing, the specific environment is not as critical.
A few key points to remember:
- As a QA teacher with experience, I anticipate questions about functional and non-functional testing. Cross-browser testing, in fact, incorporates elements of both.
- Cross-browser testing should not be confused with cross-platform testing, which involves testing applications in multiple target environments, such as Windows, Linux, and Mac. Occasionally, the two may intersect, as older browser versions may only be compatible with older platform versions.
- This testing is an ongoing process as software environments, browsers, and devices evolve. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, cross-browser testing should be part of your regression test suite.
Each type of testing helps improve application quality, and cross-browser testing is no exception. It ensures a consistent user experience regardless of the user’s choice of browser or operating system.
Fixing bugs early in the development lifecycle is cost-effective, and the same principle applies to issues identified during cross-browser testing.
By performing cross-browser testing, you can improve your business and deliver a positive user experience, leading to happy customers and a happy you!
This reinforces the idea that software testing is a multi-dimensional field, offering various opportunities for individuals to excel.
We welcome your comments and questions below. Your feedback is always appreciated!