Testing on Multiple IE Versions and Other Browsers

During application development, it is often times necessary to test the application on multiple browser platforms and versions. This can be relatively straight forward when testing different browser platforms, such as IE vs. Firefox vs. Chrome, since all of these browsers can be installed on the same operating system.

But what about testing different versions of IE? Many of our clients have users that are on different versions – some may be on IE7, while others are still on IE6. With the latest release of IE8 this year, applications that do not currently face this problem may soon. At first glance, testing different versions of IE evokes thoughts of multiple test environments using virtual servers or DLL hacks, since only one version of IE can be installed at a time in Windows. The good news is there’s an easier way.

Xenocode provides free software that allows you to run multiple browser types and versions from the web – there’s no need to install the browser software, so you don’t need to change your existing environment. Xenocode currently supports IE6, IE7 and IE8, as well as Firefox 2 and 3, Google Chrome, Opera, and Apple Safari. Aside from testing, you can also use this service to check out other browsers to see if you like them without going through a download and install!

One word of caution though – we have seen that installing IE8 on your machine causes Xenocode to break – we’ll be sure to post an update if we see this limitation fixed. Also, note that Xenocode adds a “Xenocode Sandbox Manager” to your startup folder. You may want to remove that if you don’t want this process continually running in the background.

Happy browser testing!

Edit 8/2009 – Xenocode now works with IE8 installed!  They updated the plugin though – it’s now using Spoon Sandbox Manager.