Cross Browser Testing: Getting Started

I’ve read a bit into cross browser testing but I’ve never had the chance to put that into practice until now (I’m finally working on a live project where it’s something we have to worry about yey!).

I’m looking into using webdriverio which, it seems from documentation, you can do cross browser testing pretty easily (and potentially for free) with. I say easily with a pinch of salt, I’m sure it comes with its own headaches!

Obviously the first place to start would be to ask your team: how many browsers and versions are we going to support and why?

After that question what would you advise?

Jumping ahead to the tools one can use to do this then, does anyone have any experience reports from these? Maybe you’ve used a few and you could advise what are the pros and cons in your experience?

I have started down the road of different device/ browser testing. I would first look at your ga results to see what you must test, then the whole of the uk’s to see what you can try and test.

Then the first thing I noticed is alot of companies use emulators rather than real devices, so you’ll have to decide whether you want to trust emulators, but with your budget it sounds like you won’t have much choice.

If its just browsers testing, you can use grid.

Once you’ve got it down to a few providers, try them out. They’ll usually give you some minutes to try and get it working with your framework.

I know this as I’ve tried out 2 companies and it uncovered alot of flaws. So for now we have gone back and begun to look at other competitors. Good luck.


We know we’ll have mobile users so that’s definitely on the radar for me. Emulators are a gamble but potentially cheaper than a device lab on site. Have you found any major issues using them?

I’m only on week two of a new job so rooting out all the analytics is next on my to do list. Lot’s of research at the minute about what our options are :slight_smile: I think if I can provide justification for a budget then I’ll get it but often in my experience you have to use free options as the justification :sweat_smile:

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Hi Heather,

for manual testing purposes websites like, can be quite helpful, as they use real devices, you get streamed to your desktop, and not emulated devices (I think they can even work with Selenium tests, but the reliability is still questionable in my experience). For Emulated devices you can even use Chrome in Dev Mode switched to have it rendering the viewport like it was a mobile device. But for the real deal, it can be misleading in its result.

I have no experiences with SauceLabs etc. (Cloud-Services, that run you automated tests) but always feared, that it wont work flawless, like Mark in this thread pointed out. With the customers we work with at the moment, we can not properly do it anyways due to technical (VPN) restrictions and legal restrictions.

Therefor we are slowly starting to use Selenium grid with our Webdriver tests and are building our own framework to initialize crossbrowser tests on our own hardware. We are aiming to do it with things like Docker (Virtualization), to get a good scaleability. But I can assure you from my point of view, it is quite a challenge to tackle, to get it done right.

And one thing; There are no free options :slight_smile: Either the tools are free and you need more work from engineers to have it suit your needs. Or you pay the big players tons of money and try to get away without as much infrastructural hassle as possible. Both strategies do cost money anyways. So it is more a strategic decision, what your mid- and longterm goals are. On what kind of “Software under Test” do you work with your infrastructure mainly, like angular JS heavy, than Protractor and jasmin is on the table. Or is it even beyond SAAS and you need a solution like TestOffice, that can automate pretty much anything.

2 Likes is also a nice site. I used it while working in a company dedicated to developing complicated websites.

( Browsershots makes screenshots of your web design in different operating systems and browsers. It is a free open-source online web application providing developers a convenient way to test their website’s browser compatibility in one place. When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your website in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to our central dedicated server for your review.)


From the post I assume you are asking about cross-browser test automation.
First of all as @stefan.spill mentioned it will be expensive no matter which road you decide to take.

We decided to build our own infrastructure for one main reason, the Cloud-services were taking at least twice the time than the local selenium server and since you pay the testing minutes, it was getting way out of budget

Regarding the browser and version support, the most realistic is to stick to a specific browser and selenium version (since driver versions are bound to specific selenium versions). Furthermore not all browser drivers are in a good condition.

As for the tools, we tried webdriverio and nightwatchjs, both are similar but nightwatchjs suited our needs better.

After you get the team’s feedback the next step I guess, if you go for in-house solution, is to explore some tools and build a small proof of concept.


Thank you for your reply Stefan :smiley:

Looking at browser stack I think something like that would be my first choice. I’ve tried the free trial of it and it seemed OK. I had some lag issues with it but I’m not sure if that was a free account restriction or something else.

Currently we have a small in house device lab by pooling our office devices. We know this isn’t a long term solution as it takes a lot of man hours but it’s proving the need for a different solution as we find device/OS specific bugs.

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Hi Heather,

Crossbrowser testing is never easy or cheap, however in my experience it is necessary as i always find a lot of bugs when running my cb tests.
I like to use Ranorex. This allows you to create just 1 script and run it on the most common browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE, Edge, Chromium) automatically. For testing other less common used browsers or mobile devices i use browserstack automate Pro which i have connected to Ranorex via the standard webdriver endpoint functionality. This allows me to use the same script for mobile testing as well saving much time and money on maintenance.
On browserstack you can decide to use a plan with emulators or real devices, depending on your needs.
Both Ranorex and Browserstack are paid services, however you save a lot of time (and money) for not having to create something yourself and keep it up-to-date with new devices and browsers.


We still manually run our cross browser tests, we have a fairly succinct supported list, and access to mobiles and to VM’s running older versions of IE.
I recommend checking what your developers use to develop against. My guess is none of them will use IE, ours don’t so we always start testing in IE :slight_smile:


IE and Edge are so far proving to be a bit of a headache. It seems take everything other browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) do and they don’t do that. General statement a bit there but those two browsers are big sticking points so yes the ones I go to first when I’m checking. :raised_hand: I cringe a bit every time I open them but it’s my job because obviously people out there are using them.

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Cross Browser testing is very important aspect of testing the web applications. Cross browser testing is also called as ‘Browser Compatibility’ testing. As the name suggests, it is basically a process where the user can test web application in different multiple browsers. Also, we need to test if the web application is being displayed correctly across browsers, JavaScript, AJAX and authentication is working fine. User basically do Cross Browser testing to ensure that the application behavior should be same in all the browsers.

While performing the browser compatibility test, user may also need to evaluate whether the display inconsistencies are acceptable or not. Sometimes, we may also have to check for ‘Mobile Browser Compatibility’ because there are some software testing companies who also deals with Mobile testing services.

Why we perform cross browser testing?

Cross browser testing is a necessary part of the testing process these days as it ensures all the Clients/Users should have a consistent experience using the product. Also, as we all know that browser is constantly updating and the new versions of each browser are being released on a regular basis. So, there are possible chances that may be the behavior of application get changed after new update.

Hope this information is clear and you can get back to us in case need more information.


One thing I’d suggest is worthwhile doing to inform where you focus your effort is to try and get some data on what platforms the end users access the app under test on, or if it’s not gone live yet, on what they’re currently using. If you can get some trend data as well as a current snapshot that’s even better. Don’t just rely on the general internet usage stats as they vary quite a bit, and depending on who your end users are and what they use it for you may find the usage profile is pretty different - you may find you have to start looking at some of the old and mouldering versions of IE, regardless of what’s still in MS support!

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@heather_reid have you heard of a cross browser tool called Rainforest? It has recently come onto my radar from a manager at work who is being squeezed by sales people and I havent seen it listed here as tool under resources - so I just wanted to see if anyone had heard of it, had used it or had any experinece with the tool?

It’s not one I came across while I was looking up tools for cross browser testing. It wasn’t one that was suggested to me by others either.

You’re on the right track seeing if others have used it before, sorry I can’t be more help :confused:

I am still a very Junior in Software Testing and this topic is what I am curious about now so would like to ask for your experience for Multi Browser Testing?
Am more curious about procedure and the best way of doing it…
Have looked few cross-browsing testing tool (SourceLab, BrowserStack, CrossBrowserTesting) but am curious to hear more real life experience as well.

I saw that those tools have integration with Selenium, but from my small experience all functions are working on all browsers where selenium tests are a bit useless…
To me it seems that the biggest difference from browser to browser is aesthetics - I have seen that those tools can make ScreenShots of Web App across Browsers, but how that goes when App has 300+ screens?
Going through 1500+ screens seems to me like a longer and harder job to do then to go manually in each Browser?

Reading this Replies have found out about Ranorex as well which seems nice, but seems a bit too pricey compared to other Tools that are more “famous”…
As you can see I am inexperienced about it so any feedback is very useful!
Thank you very much for your answers!

Rainforest was in use at my current company prior to my starting in lieu of having an in house tester.

I think it has some interesting possibilities and common drawbacks.

Fundamentally it’s crowdsourced scripted test case runs. You provide the test scripts and the browser targets and they provide the testers. Because it’s distributed you can get a lot of coverage fairly quickly across multiple browsers. They also did multiple testers per test to try and limit false positives.

But… it’s scripted test cases run by people who have no knowledge of your product (likely) or industry (probable) with unverifiable credentials or skills.

We were on a very low end tier and could have used up our credits incredibly quickly. On top of that it meant having a full time person to manage the existing test suite, create new tests, manage environments, and manage test runs. So, I could have the expense of that full time employee, plus the expense of our Rainforest package (more than it costs for a good tester where I am), for something we could run the equivalent of a couple days a month.

They also have an exploratory testing package they tried to sell me on. That’s much more interesting to me, to have fresh eyes on a feature or functionality, but I couldn’t justify the price. Have Rainforest do a day or two of exploratory testing a month for me or hire a full time person and have tooling / training budget left over… Easy call for me.

They worked hard to retain me, but when I told them I didn’t have the capacity or desire to continue using them they did terminate our contract early. That alone means I’d consider them in the future, given the right circumstance.

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I blogged a while ago about browser matrixes and deciding what should be included on them:

For my own cross-browser/device testing (which makes up a large part of my role), I have as many real browsers/devices as possible on my machine or in our device lab, I use’s VMs for testing old versions of IE, and I use BrowserStack for quick checks and for browsers/devices I don’t have in front of me.

Generally I find that BrowserStack is pretty accurate (especially their ‘real devices’ which are supposedly not emulators), but actual browsers/devices (or local VMs, if needs be) are always preferable for in-depth testing because there’s no lag and they’re much more pleasant to use than virtual ones. Also, testing on virtual mobile devices can often mask problems (e.g. interfaces that are difficult to use with a touchscreen compared to a mouse), or create problems that don’t exist in the real world (e.g. mobile-friendly interfaces that are designed to work well with touch but not really optimised for mouse).

I prefer BrowserStack to other solutions like SauceLabs because a) the UI is a bit slicker and well-optimised for ‘manual’ testing and b) I don’t really do automated UI testing so I don’t need all of the automation bells and whistles that other browser testing services focus on. I know BrowserStack has its own Selenium testing platform, but that costs extra and I don’t currently have any need of it.