Review – Browser Checking With Adobe Browserlab

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Review – Browser Checking With Adobe Browserlab

Adobe Browserlab takes screenshots of your web page in several different web browsers

Adobe Browserlab takes screenshots of your web page in several different web browsers

Adobe Browserlab is a browser testing service that allows you to check how each page appears in a variety of mainstream web browsers.

The web-based application allows you to compare your web page in 2 web browsers side by side and in that respect, shares a similar principle with Mogotest, which I reviewed recently. Read the Mogotest review.

One benefit to Adobe Browserlab is that it is free for 1 year if you sign up before 30th April 2011.

Sign up

First of all, you have to sign up to Adobe CS Live in order to gain access to Browserlab. By signing up to CS Live before 30th April 2011 you get 1 year complimentary access but we are not sure what the costs will be once the first year is finished.

CS Live includes other products including CS Review, Acrobat.com, Adobe Story and SiteCatalyst NetAverages.

Features

Once you have signed up to Browserlab, you can check your web page by inputing the address and selecting the browser you would like to view it in.

Adobe Browserlab then fetches the screenshot in that browser and presents it to you.

There are several different views available to you, as follows:

1-Up View – the default view, this allows you to see the screenshot of the web page in a single web browser.

2-Up View – the view I use the most, you can compare screenshots from two different browsers side by side to see where your web page may differ in one browser over another.

Onion Skin View – an interesting feature and places the screenshot of one browser over the other in a semi-transparent view, allowing you to see more easily the differences between each browser.

Additionally, there are the following features:

Smart Align – allows you to select a specific point on your screenshot and then determine which of the other web browsers display the screenshot at exactly the same alignment. This helps to pick up graphics or other elements that may be slightly out of line from browser to browser that you cannot easily see.

Delay – sets a delay for any animations that come in or start after a certain number of seconds.

Integration – Browserlab integrates with CS5 but I am not sure how, as I don’t own a copy and so have not covered that particular aspect in this review.

Screenshots rather than full testing

Adobe Browserlab only takes screenshots of your web page to display in each browser. This means that you can only realistically check for layout issues rather than being able to actually browse the website with that web browser. It also means that you will not be able to pick up JavaScript issues or items that may occur as you navigate around the site.

For full testing you need to use something such as CrossBrowserTesting.com or Spoon.net/browsers.

Browser Sets

This allows you to set up groups of browsers that you would like to test your web page in. You could create browser sets to test in all the IE browsers for instance or a list of browsers that you support as standard or any browsers that you don’t have readily available.

Supported Browsers

Adobe Browserlab supports all of the main web browsers including the following:

Windows:

  • Internet Explorer 6
  • Internet Explorer 7
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Internet Explorer 9 Beta
  • Firefox 2
  • Firefox 3
  • Firefox 3.6
  • Firefox 4 Beta
  • Chrome 7
  • Chrome 8

Mac:

  • Firefox 3
  • Firefox 3.6
  • Safari 3
  • Safari 4
  • Safari 5

The range of browsers supported is better than Mogotest but you do have to check each one manually for issues rather than being given a report in the case of using Mogotest.

Conclusion

Adobe Browserlab is a very useful browser testing tool. You gain access to browsers and browser versions you may not have easily available to you, in my case I don’t have Internet Explorer 6 or older versions of Firefox or Safari installed on any of my machines.

Adobe have created a tool that is pretty easy to use and if you have CS5 then Browserlab is probably even easier to use. The 2-up and onion skin views allow you to easily compare one browser with another but I can’t see myself using the smart align feature that much to be honest.

Browserlab is a good free (for now) service but we’ll see what happens if and when Adobe starts charging for it.

Tom Batey
Tom Batey, founder of Testing Web Sites & WebDepend, is a hands on website tester focusing on quality across web, mobile and email.