Achieving Browser Compatibility: Advanced Cross-Browser Testing Techniques

By implementing browser compatibility, the testers can deliver a consistent and functional experience to their end users. This experience remains consistent across different devices and platforms. In the modern generation, there are thousands of browsers available, each with its own unique rendering engine and style.

Therefore, it can be a challenging process for the testers to implement browser compatibility on all of these variations. However, by implementing advanced cross-browser testing techniques, developers can streamline this process while ensuring their websites work seamlessly across various browsers.

With this article, we will understand some of the most advanced techniques and tools that help achieve browser compatibility on multiple browsers and browser versions. We will also go through some other important practices that can help the developers and testers elevate the efficiency of this entire process.

Understanding Cross-Browser Compatibility

Before we can understand the advanced techniques to perform cross-browser compatibility testing, we must understand the core idea of this process. This process mainly refers to the ability of a website or web app to function smoothly and in a similar way across different web browsers.

Some of the most important browsers that the developers must include in this process are Firefox, Chrome or Safari, Edge, and others. Cross-browser compatibility testing serves the purpose of ensuring that the unique rendering engines and scripts of all browsers do not hamper the performance of modern web apps.

Let us now understand some of the major challenges of implementing cross-browser compatibility testing:

  • As we already mentioned earlier, modern browsers use different engines for interpreting and displaying web content. For example, Opera and Chrome users Blink, while Firefox uses Gecko.
  • There are multiple variations in JavaScript implementations and CSS styles across browsers. These variations can lead to inconsistencies in the rendering and functionality of modern web apps.
  • There are various modern users who use extensions or plugins with their web browsers. These additional inclusions can affect the functioning of modern websites or web applications.
  • Various devices have different screen sizes and resolutions. These variations can impact the layout of web apps and also its overall responsiveness.

Basic Cross-Browser Testing

Before understanding the advanced techniques of executing cross-browser testing, let us understand basic cross-browser testing. This process mostly consists of the following phases:

●     Manual Testing

During this process, the developers have to manually check the website on different browsers to identify any layout or functioning issues. Although this method may seem straightforward, it is a time-consuming process, especially when the developers and testers are executing it on multiple devices and browsers.

Moreover, manual testing is also prone to errors that can arise due to the involvement of human developers and testers.

●     Browser Developer Tools

Most modern browsers come with built-in developer tools that allow the testers to inspect elements, emulate different devices, and debug JavaScript. So, by using these tools, the testers can identify and fix issues that might be specific to the respective web browser. However, since these tools are only useful for a certain browser, it massively limits the cross-browser compatibility of modern apps.

●     Online Testing Tools

There are various online testing tools that are available in the market that provide virtual environments for testing the website. Using these environments, the app testers can integrate cross-browser testing without the inclusion of physical devices or web browser versions.

So, by using all the above methods, the testers can implement basic compatibility testing. This process will fail to uncover all potential issues, especially those issues that are related to specific edge or browser versions. This is the specific reason why app testers must deploy advanced techniques.

Advanced Cross-Browser Testing Techniques

Let us now understand some of the most advanced cross-browser testing techniques that the developers can integrate into their testing environment to improve the app’s compatibility on multiple devices and web browsers:

1.    Automated Testing with Selenium WebDriver

The Selenium WebDriver is a component of the Selenium test suite. Using this tool, the developers can automate the web browser interactions on multiple browsers and browser versions. This tool allows the developers to write the test cases in any of their preferred programming languages like Java, Python, or JavaScript.

Selenium WebDriver supports testing on multiple browsers at the same time. So, using this tool, the testers can run the test case across Firefox, Chrome, Safari Edge, and many others.

Headless browsers like Headless Chrome and PhantomJS allow the testers to run the test cases without a Graphical Interface. This process massively speeds up the overall testing phase.

The developers can integrate Selenium WebDriver with AI-powered test orchestration and execution platforms like LambdaTest to enable testing on real devices and browsers through remote servers. With LambdaTest, the developers can execute automated test suites on a remote test lab of 3000 combinations of devices, browsers, and operating systems.

2.    CSS Preprocessor Techniques

The developers can access various features using CSS preprocessors like SAS and Less. Using these features, the app testers can massively improve the efficiency of the cross-browser compatibility test cases.

This technique automatically adds vendor prefixes to CSS properties. For this process, it uses Mixins or built-in functions for ensuring compatibility with older browser versions as well.

The developers can also use Mixins for creating responsive designs that adapt to different viewport sizes and display resolutions. Using this approach, the testers can ensure a consistent layout across multiple devices.

3.    Visual Regression Testing

Visual regression testing is the process of comparing screenshots of a website before and after changes. The goal of this process is to detect any unintended visual discrepancies that might be present within the user interface or the UI elements.

The developers can also integrate tools like Cypress, Puppeteer, or BackdropJS for automating the process of visual regression testing. This approach allows the testers to catch visual bugs across different browsers and devices before the app is deployed to the end users.

For this process, the testers must establish a baseline set of screenshots for different browsers and compare subsequent screenshots against this baseline. By performing this process, the app developers and testers can predict any differences that might be present between these screenshots.

During this process, the testers must integrate visual regression testing with continuous integration and continuous deployment pipelines. With this inclusion, the testers can catch visual bugs in the earlier phases of the development process. The implementation of this process also ensures that the app developers can massively streamline the development process to deliver high-quality apps in a short time.

4.    Polyfills and Feature Detection

Polyfills are basically JavaScript codes which provide modern functionality in older browser versions which don’t support it in a native format. Moreover, common feature detection libraries like Modernizr can be used for detecting browser capabilities and to provide fallbacks or alternative implementations if and when necessary.

For this process, the developers must write the code which gracefully degrades in older versions by using polyphenols or alternative approaches when modern features are not supported by the respective browser or browser version. This implementation becomes even more useful when the application developers are working with outdated browsers like the Internet Explorer.

The testers must also use feature detection for conditionally loading Polyfills or alternative resources only when required. This is because with this approach, the testers can reduce the overhead for modern browsers and also reduce the use of unnecessary resources.

Best Practices for Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing

  • Now that we have understood some of the most advanced techniques that can help the developers and testers to improve the efficiency of the browser compatibility test cases, let us also understand the best practices to further elevate the potential of this process and utilize its full capabilities:

    Creating a List of Target Browsers

As there are hundreds of browsers available in the market with over 1000 operational versions for each, it becomes impossible for the app testers to provide compatibility of their app on all of these. So, before initiating the cross-browser compatibility testing process, the app developing companies must create a comprehensive test plan that will incorporate all target browsers and versions.

It is also important to constantly survey the target audience to understand their requirements and adjust this list accordingly. In case the developers are working on a new product, they can simply choose the most popular browsers that are currently operational in the market.

●     Maintaining the Balance of Manual and Automation Testing

As we already mentioned earlier, manual testing is not only a time consuming process but also prone to human errors. However, the testers must understand that they cannot automate all the test cases. so, the most ideal approach for this process is to create the perfect balance between manual testing and automation testing.

For instance, the application testers must implement automation testing to only those test cases that are repetitive and do not involve the inclusion of unique data sets. By incorporating this practice, the developers can use this extra time to manually create new features for future app iterations.

●     Maintaining through Documentation

Throughout the application development and testing process, the app developers must maintain a thorough documentation keeping track of all the application testing processes, bugs detected, and the solutions implemented. This will help the testers not only keep track of the previously known errors but also avoid them in future iterations of the app.

Finally, this documentation will massively simplify the app updating process as the developers can maintain the compatibility between the new and existing features of the app.

The Bottom Line

Based on this article, achieving cross-browser compatibility is a vital part of the modern web development process. This is because it helps ensure that users have a consistent experience regardless of the device they use or their browser version. So, by integrating all the advanced techniques that we discussed in this article, developers can streamline the testing process and catch compatibility issues at the earlier phases of the development cycle.

Although no testing method can guarantee 100% compatibility across all browsers and devices, a combination of multiple techniques can significantly help achieve this goal. So, with the evolution of the modern web development industry, the testers must be vigilant and adopt new techniques and tools. This is highly important for maintaining cross-browser compatibility in the continuously changing web development industry.

Simon

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