Web testing
March 26, 2004 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Web designers and developers: what's in your testing suite? Do I really need Mozilla, Netscape, Camino and Firefox, or is one Mozilla-based browser enough? How much do they vary across platforms and operating systems?
posted by timeistight to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
I'm sure there are all sorts of nuances in the Mozilla family and between versions, but personally I make sure the code is good, then test on Mozilla and Safari, then the real work begins when I turn my attention to the IE/Windows browsers. Ick.
posted by jragon at 10:14 PM on March 26, 2004

In theory (and in my experience) there's no difference between how the Gecko engine renders, despite its hosting application, so all the browsers you mention should render the same -- as long as they're using the same version of Gecko.

In practice, different browsers use different version of the Gecko rendering engine. Witness this thread where I asked for help with a problem where I was seeing disappearing content in Camino 0.7 on Mac, Firefox 0.8 on Win/Mac, Moz 1.6 on Win. Some people using Firebird 0.6 and other earlier Gecko browsers did not see the trouble. So versions of the browser are likely to make a difference.

Still... I rarely test in more than one Gecko browser. My rationale is that anyone using them should be savvy enough to download the latest, and I am far more likely to have trouble enough worrying about harmony between IE 5Win, 5.5Win, 6Win, 5Mac, and the Geckos (and Safari and Opera if I'm feeling plucky) than Gecko differences.

Oh... you probably already know about these, but some obligatory mentions in this sort of thread would be .... the mighty BrowserCam, and perhaps Multiple Versions of IE on one Windows Machine to boot. Also worth mentioning is that VirtualPC on a fast Macintosh (and I presume, now, on a Fast PC) can also be a good setup... and I even am getting some mileage out of running Win 98 with IE 5.5 on my Powerbook 333Mhz, FWIW.
posted by weston at 10:18 PM on March 26, 2004

Depends on how fussy you want to get and what technologies you are focusing on/using (and what your customer wants or needs as well, even if it's just you). If your work invlves CSS or relies on any sort of substantial dhtml, then I'd recommend Mac - Safari, IE5.x and IE4, Windows IE6.x, IE5.5, IE5.0, IE 4.x, Mozilla 1.0 and a later 1.x release (I think 1.4-1.6 are comparably similar and different from 1.0 - most Mozilla users will have the later releases though). The newer Netscape (6+) browsers from AOL run the same engine as Mozilla (Gecko) As for Older Netscapes, Any of the 4.7+ versions are going to get you a long way toward covering the bulk of those users.

IE is notorious for behaving badly (unpredictably) across platforms (Mac and PC) when it comes to CSS and script (even pixel alignment sometimes). Mozilla-based browsers are remarkably predictable from system to system. Safari behaves like Mozilla for the most part, but veers its own way rather often.
posted by kokogiak at 10:27 PM on March 26, 2004

AFAIK, Opera still has the best reputation for whole compliancy, of both HTML and CSS. Their ECMAScript is much better than their first attempts. And IIRC, there's DHTML support, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 PM on March 26, 2004

You need one Mozilla browser of any kind, latest IE, and Opera if you want to be nice. There are some sore spots, though: If you're working with IFRAMEs and Javascript you're going to need IE 4, 5.5, 5, 6, 7, and 8, and Mac versions of all of those. In general, you'll be fine though.
posted by abcde at 10:58 PM on March 26, 2004

We have a test suite at work similar to the ones mentioned above. I still look at stuff in IE4, but developers may be the last people on Earth with access to it. And if there's someone running IE4 on a Mac, they have larger problems than your website not looking right. We've thankfully moved to a much more rational supported browser set, where pixel-perfection in IE4 and Netscape 4 is no longer a goal. That "goal" is worse than a distraction. It prevents code from coming into a more modern age and being "forwards-compatable".

I've yet to see major differences between flavors of Moz (Mozilla, Camino, Firebird, Firefox) rendering with one caveat: in some ways, Firefox seems like a regression. There are weird JavaScript issues and some general oddities (which may all be the result of extension interactions and legacy profile junk on my part).

If you have a bleeding edge copy of Mozilla, I would also have an older version to check rendering against. IE you'll need and there are big differences between 5, 5.5 and 6 on PC. The lastest version of Opera is a nice way to triple-check code.

For the Mac, we use IE5, Camino and Safari (we can't upgrade Safari due to the OS, so I have a large disagreement with all those Mac blogs that says they've yet to discover any browser bugs in Safari).
posted by yerfatma at 6:10 AM on March 27, 2004

AFAIK, Opera still has the best reputation for whole compliancy, of both HTML and CSS.

What about the be nice to opera rule? I've always thought Opera had some of the worst CSS support, or at least tied with IE/Windows.
posted by jragon at 9:42 AM on March 27, 2004

What about the be nice to opera rule? I've always thought Opera had some of the worst CSS support, or at least tied with IE/Windows.
That's for Opera 6. Opera 7.x, in my experience, is probably slightly better than firefox with CSS (AFAIK, Moz still can't handle inline-block, for example), and worlds ahead of any version of IE. I'd say that Mozilla does still have a slight invantage in DHTML, though.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2004

Good to know. I tried Opera in 1998, 2000, and 2002, but each time I was disappointed with how it rendered pages. If it's finally playing nice with, I guess it's time to try again ;)
posted by jragon at 12:07 PM on March 27, 2004

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