First Look at Adobe BrowserLab

Last month, Adobe released BrowserLab (external link), an online tool to help web developers easily preview their websites in multiple web browsers without needing to have each browser installed. You simply input your website's URL and it shows you how your website renders in Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Furthermore, it has an overlay feature that enables you to see two renderings on top of one another so that you can identify even the most minute differences. This feature is poorly named "Onion Skin View".

Screenshot of Adobe Browerlab 2-up View1.1 Adobe BrowserLab 2-up View of Firefox 3 and IE7.

Screenshot of Adobe Browerlab Onion Skin View1.2 Adobe BrowserLab Onion Skin View of Firefox 3 and Safari 3.

Currently, you are able to test the following web browsers:

  • Firefox 3.0 (Windows XP)
  • Firefox 2.0 (Windows XP)
  • IE 7 (Windows XP)
  • IE 6 (Windows XP)
  • Safari 3.0 (OS X)
  • Firefox 3.0 (OS X)
  • Firefox 2.0 (OS X)

Eventually, Adobe BrowserLab will become a paid subscription service, but Adobe permitted a wave of beta testers free access to the service. I was able to obtain a BrowserLab account to try out the service. Overall, I really like the service, especially for IE testing because Multiple IE (external link) is not entirely reliable. However, I was not entirely convinced of the overlay feature's usefulness. Every single website I tested had huge pixel differences amongst all the web browsers (mainly because each browser renders fonts differently) that essentially made the feature useless. Therefore, the overlay feature seems more like a "fun" feature than a useful feature. The single downside to BrowserLab is the lack of available browsers. It does not include Opera, Safari for Windows, or IE8. Furthermore, there is no way of testing browser support on Linux, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.

Nevertheless, I find BrowserLab a promising service and I assume that more browsers will be added as the product matures. Whilst it is nice that cross-browser compatibility testing is becoming easier and easier, I look forward to the day when I won't have to do it at all!