Last month has brought in new waves that will affect the future of browsers.
First, Opera announced dumping their original engine in favour of Webkit. Then we heard from Google about forking off from Webkit and calling the new baby Blink. And And there was an interestgin piece where Samsung and Mozilla decided to team up. To stir up the sauce even further – Opera announced that they will actually use Blink in the future. We think that these news mean that the new battle in Browser Wars will bring important changes to cross browser testing in general.
The good old days of the Browser wars when Microsoft was battling Netscape come to mind. Looking back – all the battles in browser wars have had one thing in common. Usually there was a dominating browser, Netscape, Internet Explorer. The underdog had to come up with either new features or make use of the market dominance in other areas. When Netscape was bashed – Microsoft made use of the Windows dominance when it bundled IE together with Windows operating system. Later, when Firefox gained popularity – it was due to speed and novel features compared to Internet Explorer at the time.
The playground now seems to be far more even than before and the war seems to be more about who controls the channels rather than the user. Most new browsers are in fact, indifferent from user perspective. Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are struggling to gather as much data on what their users are doing. Pushing out different devices is part of the game. Looking from the browser perspective – there are many contenders and no-one has a particular edge. Today’s market share is dominated by IE in the desktop, but Google when mobile and desktop market shares are combined.
The browsers are an important part in this game since most devices come with a pre-installed browser. So, the the browser actually will not matter – it’s part of the operating system. Ironic, considering that Microsoft once got huge fines fro bundling IE with Windows.
Who will win this round? My personal opinion which is based on gazing at the crystal ball is the following:
The newcomers will make some small ripples, but that’s the outlook for the coming couple of years. But the pull is on and the big fight is going to be between Google and the rest. And Google is clearly showing that it does not want to play with the community, but take the lead in developing rendering engines. We have seen this before – dominant player in the market trying to create a standard on the base of its own product. In short – there will be loads of browsers on the market, each supporting a different set of features in the web.
In short: It looks like Google will win this battle. But I believe it will not bring any relief to the developers nor users.
Right now, the pragmatic way out seems to be the following:
We updated to the new Rails version following the warnings about the vulnerabilities that had been patched in the new Rails version. Fearing the hackers we performed the updates as well. One can never be too safe.
One of our private beta testers on the Browserbite Recorder cross browser testing service messaged me privately a day later saying that the search feature is giving results “that should not be there”. I managed to reproduce the issue within seconds. Indeed – just performing an empty search in the requests showed all the requests from all the users. Luckily the breach did not reveal anything that was not public yet.
Financial Times reporters dropped by our office and did an interview. Along with the President of Estonia and some government officials. We’re glad to give a supporting hand back to the country that supports us!
You can see the full video here: http://video.ft.com/v/2252646491001/Estonia-s-digital-leap
We update our application regularty, but I figure that this release will be worth a separate post since we’ve incorporated quite a few new things that our users have requested. Browserbite is committed to be the simplest to use cross browser testing service available.
We have announced the support for flow testing in a previous post with a video. In short, we have married layout bug detection engine with functional testing. We’re still accepting participants to our beta program. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to participate!
We changed around the sharing system to make it more straightforward to share cross browser testing results with your colleagues. Now you don’t need to mess around with e-mail programs. Simply throw in the e-mail of your friend and a quick comment. Then it’s shared!
You can use up-down and left-right arrows to move around the resultset with ease. Thanks to the new Recorder you can stroll through the steps of your test while keeping the browser that interests you opened in full mode. Just try the arrow keys while browsing the results and you’ll get it!
We will be adding more browsers to the Recorder support and roll out Android that has been cooking in the labs for quite a while. After that, behold the responsive tests!
Our users have been pushing us towards releasing a tool that would help them mix user interactions with our computer vision difference detection. For now, our tool has only provided capability to test pages that have their own unique URL. Get ready for something different in the video below. Our goal with this tool is to get out-of-the-way of “normal” testing of new features and give a really fast way to send your actions for cross browser testing. We hope to reduce an hour’s work to mere minutes. The beta will support IE8, IE9, Chrome and Firefox on Windows. We will add more platforms once we are happy with the performance of the “core” browsers.
Most importantly, let us know, what do you think is a fair and simple pricing model for this kind of service? We’re looking for something that works for solo coders and well established businesses alike.
Most people probably have found it out on their own. Statistics shows that about 8% of males and 0,5% of females are colorblind. Why does that matter in cross browser testing and conversion in general? Quite simple – if you use color combinations that are not distinguished for colorblind people, you lose conversion. Making 9% more in sales may mean the difference of being broke or brake-even for some companies.
Here’s a quick test to see if you’re color blind http://colorvisiontesting.com/online%20test.htm
First obvious reference would be the WAI standard. It covers not just the color blindness aspect but nearly every other accessibility guideline. When just focusing on the color(blindness) aspect then zoom to Guideline 1.4 that talks about making your page distinguishable.
We try to keep it simple here – just 3 points to follow. (more…)
Meet Gabriele Renzi, an Italian, living in Budapest, Hungary. Gabriele was also the lucky winner of our year-end raffle to get a full year of Browserbite usage for free.
So, how did you find Browserbite?
Well, I don’t remember actually, but probably read it from an article and then tried out the service myself.
I consider myself more of a back-end developer, but have done quite a bit of front-end things as well. But I don’t feel that strong in it. This is where Browserbite comes in for me – when I make changes in the front end then I can quickly check that I did not mess anything up in the layout. Cross browser testing is really boring and can mean long hours of setup. Sure, you can have your own virtual machines and emulators, but the install time could be used otherwise.
So what are you working on right now?
Currently at circleme.com which is a social network type of web app that helps you to be informed about the things and hobbies of your life. Let’s say your favourite band is coming to play in a city near you – you’ll get a notification if that band is in your profile.
What is your background in general?
I come from near Rome, studied Computer Science nearby and worked mostly as a web developer. I did my master thesis on semantic web while working with the Sindice.com team on Linked Data discovery and extraction. That was a really interesting project, though the output wasn’t very usable for common people.
After meeting my girlfriend I followed her to Budapest and started working on circleme.com
Favourite development tools?
I would use Ruby on Rails for web stack. Whatever the world out there is saying about Ruby being slow, I’ve rarely found this to be a constraint. Usually the bottleneck has been the database. I also appreciate Heroku, since it takes a lot of sysop challenge off our back (for a price, of course).
Why do you like Browserbite?
Mostly because it makes the differences really visual right on the first page of the test results. That is really intuitive and sets Browserbite apart from other cross browser testing tools.
Your biggest feature request?
Scripting support so that I can test web apps and user flows.
Great – we’re working on that already! Any last words?
Interviewed by Kaspar Loog
We started a user survey to improve our service and listen to our customers earlier in December. We got tons of feedback. Thank you to all responders! We will make a separate post on what the users wanted.
We are committed to creating the mos easy-to-use web testing service in the world and user feedback is the only way to go here.
Part of the package was that we will give out one full year package to one of the responders. We are keeping our promise.
The winner is: (more…)
NPO, the Swedish National Medical History portal does not work in Internet Explorer 9 – the default browser for most Windows 7 users. The reason was quite simple: vendor of the web application was only contracted to support 3 browsers: IE 7, IE 8 and Firefox 3. The choice was set from the buyer of the system to avoid costs on cross browser testing and compatibility.
The incident happened due to the Gotland commune workers’ system upgrade that resulted everyone’s browsers to be updated to Internet Explorer 9. Since the portal is supplied from the national side, there was no knowledge that an upgrade would result in loss of service.
Obviously the users are up in arms and it has made it to the nationwide media. The representative of the vendor of the system, Inera, says that “it’s all about budgets” and they are right. Manual cross browser testing is expensive and supporting a variety of browsers means extra development time expecially on legacy systems.
Read the original (in Swedish, so use Google translate if you don’t understand Swedish) here: http://www.idg.se/2.1085/1.483449/uppgraderat-internet-explorer-slar-ut-vardjournaler
The W3C has announced that the HTML5 Definition is now complete so that browser vendors (and all other vendors that use HTML for their purposes) can go on with implementation. The Consortium expects world-wide adoption in 2014.
However, the release also mentiones that “device fragmentation” still remains a big issue. Here, at Browserbite, we still believe that the standard is a step towards the right direction. However, the industry is always one step ahead of a standards committee. HTML4 was supposed to bring relief to the mess that HTML3 was about. That did not stop Flash, Silverlight and many other technologies from popping up and changing our browser experience.
Cross Browser Testing will not go anywhere, since history has shown that there’s still a lot of legacy around and by the time HTML5 gets proper adoption, there will be new innovation. On one hand it’s sad that the industry cannot deliver its promise. On the other, innovation is about bringing new products to the market. Even if it disrupts the existing standards.
What do we at Browserbite think that is going to happen? First, Opera, Chrome and later Firefox will announce support in the first half of 2013. But our usual suspect Internet Explorer and Safari will lag behind. Since tablets and smartphones are quickly taking over the browser experience then the fragmentation will get worse, not better. For the web developer it means that you still need to have fallback methods in place for older browsers for minimum of 2 years. So cross browser testing and development will give plenty of hours of work to many of us! We’re just here to ease that.
Please find the full release at the following link: http://www.w3.org/2012/12/html5-cr