The Browser Wars and UI Testing
I just did something that I’ve been putting off for a long time: I switched to FireFox. I’d been a longtime Opera fan and I kept hoping that the sites I use would start to support it better, but that didn’t happen and Internet Explorer 7 came out with tabbed browsing, so I couldn’t justify sticking with it. I knew there was also FireFox, but I didn’t want to put the time into learning a new interface.
Well, Internet Explorer’s lacking bookmark support finally pushed me over the edge—come to think of it, it seems like most of Internet Explorer’s features other then the actual page rendering and tabs are second-class features and are not a first-class part of the browser. This is where embedding Internet Explorer in Windows definitely hurt the product–it’s like they wanted to keep all these points of integration with the operating system, but it limits the functionality/capability of those features because they cant exactly be browser specific.
FireFox also has a couple nice features/extensions that make testing websites easier. Not the least of which is an extension that allows you to open a tab in FireFox that is actually an Internet Explorer browser window. That isn’t to say that I still don’t have to go through some hoops to test are target browsers—Windows Vista/Internet Explorer 7, Windows Vista/FireFox 2, Windows Vista/Safari, Windows XP/Internet Explorer 6—but since Apple released Safari 3 Beta for Windows I no longer have to run PearPC/OS X (at 1/40th the host machine’s speed) to test Safari and my last hoop is running Windows XP from within Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (free download) to be able to test IE6.