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So you’ve just finished building a website for a client. It functions perfectly and the design looks amazing. Just to make sure things look good in the browser, you fire up Google Chrome and Firefox and take a peek. To your relief, they both look great. However before you wrap things up and send that invoice off, that feeling in your gut is bugging you to check things out in Internet Explorer. To your horror, everything’s a mess and your beautiful design has quickly turned into yesterday’s garbage. What happened??! Welcome to the frustrating world of browser testing and compatibility.
It’s safe to say that any web developer worth their merit that’s ever built a website to look nice across multiple browsers has experienced the mind numbing effects of cross browser incompatibility. Your site can look great in Chrome and Firefox, but once you start testing things in other browsers, things can quickly become chaotic.
As of now, the most common way of handling browser testing is simply installing every browser on your computer and loading the websites in them to see how they display. It’s not the most ideal solution, but it works. Another method used by web developers is installing multiple browsers in a virtual machine allowing them to keep their main operating system from being bogged down and cluttered with all those browsers. While these methods definitely work, they can get tedious quickly.
What Is BrowserStack?
While using virtual machines and bloating your system with every browser under the sun will get the job done, there has to be a better way to do browser testing. Due to the frustration and tediousness of old school methods for browser testing, a group of people decided to build a product that made things painless and simple for developers to test their websites on. It’s a little something (when I say little I mean HUGE) they like to call BrowserStack.
BrowserStack is an online service that offers live web based browser testing for developers. What does this mean? It means no more virtual machines, nothing to install on your computer, and instant access to every mobile and desktop browser you can wrap your brain around. For the web developer use to going back and forth between virtual machines to test things, this is quite revolutionary.
There are actually quite a few services out there that attempt to accomplish the same task, however none of them really come close to making browser testing as painless and simple as BrowserStack does.
Using BrowserStack is very simple and straightforward. The service has every operating system and browser under the sun to test your websites on. From desktop to mobile, it has every configuration that you could possibly want. Not only that, but the service also comes with some additional development features built in that allows developers to run various tests for their sites.
One of the most notable features that web developers will love is the ability to even test local and internal servers. This means that you don’t even have to have a website live on the internet to test the site out.
Plans and Pricing
While a bit more pricey than some of the other alternatives, BrowserStack is actually pretty affordable. The company offers three main tier plans to choose from, each one adding more features than the previous one. While the service is mainly geared towards companies and larger groups, they also offer a cheaper plan to freelancers to take advantage of the service for $12.50/month billed annually or $19.00 if you want to pay monthly.
If you think that is great, then prepare to be blown away. The company even offers a free plans to developers working on open source projects. Simply choose any plan that they offer and then contact their support team letting them know about your project. They’ll work with you and get you set up for free. That’s a deal that’s pretty hard to beat.
If you’re not sure if BrowserStack is right for you, feel free to test it out. The company offers a free trial of the software too.
In the end, if you’re happy with installing multiple browsers on your computer or booting up virtual machines to handle browser testing, that’s perfectly fine. Afterall, it’s free and does the job just fine. However for those that hate dealing with those hassles and want a more streamlined and simple solution to tackle browser compatibility, BrowserStack is an indispensable tool and resource to developers. Here at ChillyBin, we use it all the time on different projects to make browser testing quick and easy.