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Browsertesting can be fun!

Okay, enthusiasm may have gotten the better of me when I was punching in this entry's title. But even when you're doing what every frontend engineer hates by default – testing and retesting your page in the major browsers known to mankind – there are a few tools that can really make things easier for you.

Let us revisit a great talk by Nate Koechley first. I saw him at this year's @media conference where he went and instilled some (needed?) pride into those of us who work the (X)HTML/CSS/JS/DOM/Browser angle of websites. Is frontend engineering a "real" job? Hell yeah! Check out the slides of his talk on his blog and see how he arrives at the magic number of 672 different situational combinations of website/user environments that we have to prepare and test for.

So what can ease the job with the actual testing work? It goes without saying that you should always develop with at least three to four browsers, namely the current builds of IE7, FF3, Opera and Safari, open next to your IDE. It's miles better to check browser behaviour immediately than finishing off a template for Firefox, opening it in IE and having to start all over again.

I have the advantage of working on a Mac with Windows XP running on a virtual machine, so I can cover these two operating systems and the main browsers with relative ease. But what about testing multiple versions of the same browser?

Testing multiple Internet Explorer versions in Windows: IE Tester#

Up until recently my favourite tool for testing multiple IEs was the aptly named Multiple IE. However, when I ran into problems with testing browser specific styles (via conditional comments) I went looking for an alternative and found IE Tester. This one is working flawlessly so far and even includes a IE8 beta engine for pretesting, if you're so inclined.

Testing multiple Firefox versions: MultiFirefox#

Since Firefox is Firefox you'd guess it's fairly easy to set up two parallel installations, right? Well, it's not quite that simple, since FF has a tendency to overwrite itself and/or its user profiles when you install a second version.

For Mac users there's a pretty straightforward solution called MultiFirefox that handles profile management for you. Install FF3 and FF2 and the application will take your hand and help you set yourself up.

Windows users have to go through a bit more manual tuning work, which is nicely covered by Command-Tab.com. They also mention MultiFirefox as the tool for MacOS.

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