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What Is Cross-Browser Testing?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cross-browser testing is the process by which a website or application developer ensures that a particular page or program runs properly in multiple web browsers. This process is essential for developers, since no single browser is used by the entirety of Internet users. Developers who want to ensure that the largest possible segment of Internet users can properly view and utilize the website or application they produced should perform these tests regularly. Cross-browser testing can be performed in a number of ways, and can involve viewing a webpage or application on different browsers or using a program that runs a check of a page through multiple browsers and displays test results.

The basic purpose of cross-browser testing is to ensure that a program is compatible with multiple web browsers. A web browser is a computer program that is used to navigate websites on the Internet. Popular web browsers include Mozilla Firefox®, Microsoft Internet Explorer®, and Google Chrome®, though there are a number of other web browsers that Internet navigators can use. Since these different programs utilize different source code and can perform different functions when loading a webpage, cross-browser testing is used to ensure that all of the features of a website or online application function with multiple browsers.

Not only does cross-browser testing ensure that site layouts and functions work well on different browsers, it can be used to test a site with different versions of popular browsers. Many of these browsers are updated fairly regularly, which means that multiple users of the same program may be using different software versions. As new features are added and coding changes from version to version, it is often important for a website developer to ensure his or her sites work with each new version and remain compatible with older but still commonly used versions.

There are a number of different ways in which a website or application developer can perform cross-browser testing. One of the most straightforward methods used is for a developer to simply navigate through his or her site using different browsers. While this can be a thorough method, it is also quite time consuming, as it requires that one or more members of a development team test each site and ensure that every feature, link, and format is compatible among browsers. There are also software programs that can be used for cross-browser testing, in which a user enters a website address or application, the program checks its compatibility using different browsers, and then displays any errors or issues encountered during the test.

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