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Internet technology seems to advance at warp speed but if you're a web designer, the process of testing a website for cross-browser compatibility hasn't improved much since the days when knowledge of Microsoft FrontPage made someone a 'web designer'.

But a new service from Adobe looks set to change that.

Yesterday, the company announced that it was offering a preview of a new service called BrowserLab, which gives designers the ability to preview what their sites will look like on various browsers. IE, Firefox and Safari are the browsers currently supported. BrowserLab also uses virtualization to show how sites look on two different operating systems - Windows XP and Mac OS X.

According to Lea Hickman of Adobe, "Now with Adobe BrowserLab, designers have a simple solution that enables comprehensive browser compatibility testing in just a matter of minutes, leaving Web designers with more time to be creative and deliver the high-impact sites customers are demanding".

The most convenient thing about BrowserLab: it's Flash-based so PC and Mac-based designers don't need to download and install any special software to get the functionality, as is the case with a similar product Microsoft has developed called SuperPreview. And because it is a hosted service, we can expect that Adobe will eventually expand the number of included browsers and OSes.

Perhaps the coolest thing about BrowserLab: it provides the ability to compare a single site on two different browsers/operating systems using an onion skin viewing mode. This will come in very handy for designers whose clients demand nothing less than pixel-perfect implementation of designs.

Right now, the preview is free but Adobe isn't foolish and it knows it has something of value here. Accordingly, it has plans to charge for the BrowserLab service in some fashion down the road.

Patricio Robles

Published 3 June, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Jason Merry

This is all well and good but if you can't see or edit the source code or css using Firebug (Firefox) or IE Developer toolbar (need I say more), in my mind it will still take as long.

If you can't find the element/tag causing the issue, as it's not always the one you think, you will still be going backwards and forwards from CSS to previews.

Apart form that I thnk it is a great introduction to cross browser testing, reducing the array of browsers you have to install and even multiple virtual PC's for testing.

Make it HTML based and not flash and I think it will be perfect solution.

about 7 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

I think they called it Meer Meer back when it was being developed.

There have been other folks doing similar thing, like the open source browsershots.org - which is free.

If only all browsers followed the standards, then millions of developer/designer man hours would be saved...

Deri

about 7 years ago

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George Wiscombe

BrowserLab does look like an interesting product however there are several online pay-monthly browser testing solutions available already. Perhaps the major player at the moment is Litmus (www.litmusapp.com) it has many of the BrowserLab features and in addition it can test email newsletter designs and has software you can install locally.

Adobe are innovators and I have no doubt they will be pushing hard to produce something special however in my opinion, they will have to bring the price point down below existing services ($50~ per month) to break in to the market successfully.

about 7 years ago

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Alex Lim

BrowserLab can integrate with Dreamweaver CS4 so you can test web page designs from within the WYSIWYG HTML editor without having to publish pages on to an external web server.

http://www.pupuweb.com/blog/an-easier-faster-solution-for-cross-browser-testing-with-adobe-browserlab/

about 7 years ago

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Vasya

There is a new web browser screenshot application (www.browserseal.com) that you may find useful. It currently supports FF, IE and Safari. It is still in beta, so more features and new browsers will be added in the new future.

Fully functional free beta version is available for download from www.browserseal.com

almost 7 years ago

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