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Adobe Shuts Down Browser Testing Service BrowserLab 40

Posted by timothy
from the buy-laptops-and-racks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Adobe has shut down its BrowserLab service, used by many for testing content across multiple desktop platforms. The company pointed its customers to two alternatives: BrowserStack and Sauce Labs. BrowserLab offered cross-browser testing by producing screenshots of websites from various browsers across Windows and OS X platforms. It was very useful for developers looking to support as many different users as possible."
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Adobe Shuts Down Browser Testing Service BrowserLab

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  • by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:26PM (#43175003)

    It was very useful for developers looking to support as many different users as possible

    No, it was useful for developers looking to cut corners. Screenshots simply aren't a reliable way of testing something that the user will be interacting with. For instance, one particularly nasty Internet Explorer 6 bug made all the text on a page disappear - but only when the window was resized. There are some Android bugs where the tap target for links is different to where they appear on screen. Some Internet Explorer 8 bugs only manifest themselves while something is being animated.

    Aside from the inherent limitations with a screenshot service, I've personally witnessed cases where this tool renders things differently to how a genuine browser renders it. It looks suspiciously like they were using a technique similar to IETester, because they got identical things wrong. A genuine copy of Internet Explorer 6 was rendering something one way, and this tool was showing Internet Explorer rendering something a completely different way.

    The only reliable way of testing websites is with virtual machines. It's a little resource intensive, but it guarantees that you are testing with the actual browser and not with some Frankenstein reproduction, and it lets you replicate how a user actually uses the website - which is not by passively looking at it without any interaction.

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      The only reliable way of testing websites is with virtual machines. It's a little resource intensive, but it guarantees that you are testing with the actual browser and not with some Frankenstein reproduction, and it lets you replicate how a user actually uses the website

      Even that isn't enough. I had a nightmare of a time identifying an IE7 bug due to a race condition. Our QA team (at a different office) was able to reliably reproduce it on physical hardware, but I couldn't in VMs because they ran slow enou

    • Some IE6 bugs specifically only presented themselves on windows versions prior to XP. It was a horrible time... usually it could be done nesting table/div/table with N level of complexity, and the render could be broken pretty easily (white page of death).
    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Agreed.

      I did find it useful, for a short period of time, when I was greener to the web development industry. But in practice it just didn't provide proper feedback.

  • by ios and web coder (2552484) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:47PM (#43175257) Journal

    The Web standards are being followed a lot more closely by browsers. Of course, Microsoft doesn't believe in rounded corners (Anyway, I think that may be patented [theregister.co.uk]).

    IE7 sucks just about as bad as IE6, but I keep a VM with IE7 (Vista) around for extreme testing.

    Most of the issues I encounter these days come from JavaScript/DOM differences, and this service was worthless for that. I need to have VMs on my Mac with multiple versions of browsers. For this kind of testing, Macs are extremely useful, as I can run a full LAMP server on my Air, and run multiple VMs that connect to it as external sites. I can tweak in realtime.

    VirtualHostX [clickontyler.com] is also pretty useful, as I can develop sites on my laptop, then directly transition them to the server with no fiddling with mod_rewrite or DB settings.

    • IE9 supports rounded corners just fine...

      • IE9 supports rounded corners just fine...

        Cool.

        I do most of my testing with IE7 and IE8 (and tend to want to support IE8), but I just set up an IE9 and an IE10 VM. I haven't really started testing with them much. That phase begins this weekend.

  • With that service you can VNC/Remote Desktop into machines running just about any combination of technology that you want to test again. You can also do screen shots, but being able to click on a screenshot to remote in was always the real perk.

  • So how long until they just admin that everyone should disable their PDF link handler plugins completely and review every PDF document first as an FTP download? Oh and if they're also still including in the recently killed version Dreamweaver tasks, I'm running CS3, and last time I used their browser lab, it was crap. It didn't tell me anything useful at all and every entry was a waste of my time.

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