Challenges and Solutions in Cross Browser Testing for Complex Web Applications

Complex Web Applications

Cross-browser testing remains a misunderstood aspect for developers, testers, and managers. Also referred to as browser compatibility testing, this testing variant poses challenges for developers, can become a monotonous task for testers, and might lack the allure of managers. Regrettably, in tight schedules, cross browser testing often receives lower priority.

Some software teams have taken the simplistic route of limiting their application’s compatibility to a specific browser, but this approach is no longer acceptable. In today’s landscape, users anticipate that an application should function seamlessly in any browser, across diverse operating systems, and on various devices.

Cross-Browser Testing

The process involves utilizing a combination of browsers and operating systems to assess the application’s responsiveness and compatibility. While the concept is straightforward, determining when to initiate cross-browser testing can pose challenges.

With the adoption of the shift-left methodology, initiating testing in the local staging environment precedes the application’s migration to production. However, cross-browser testing facilitates ongoing bug tracking and resolution, even after deployment in a production environment.

Let’s delve into why cross-browser testing holds significance and how it contributes to an enhanced user experience:

  • Facilitates easy comparison of UI design and functionality across multiple browsers.
  • Ensures consistent behavior and an enhanced user experience across diverse browsers and platforms.
  • Contributes to customer satisfaction by delivering better accessibility on websites.
  • Enhances the compatibility of your web application across various platforms, including mobile, desktop, and tablets.
  • Ensures consistent and user-friendly navigation.

 

Understanding the Challenges Encountered in Cross-Browser Testing

While cross-browser testing may initially seem like a straightforward process involving running a website on various browsers and making code adjustments for compatibility, it proves to be a more intricate task. The practice of cross-browser testing introduces challenging scenarios that can be formidable obstacles to navigating in the field.

Diverse Array of Browsers and Platforms

One of the formidable challenges in cross-browser and cross-platform testing lies in addressing the multitude of browsers, platforms, and their numerous versions, coupled with varying resolutions on mobiles and smart devices. This complexity adds a layer of difficulty to the testing process.

On the contrary, you may need to ensure a consistent customer experience across legacy operating systems and outdated browsers, such as IE and legacy Edge. Testing all possible combinations manually becomes impractical.

The optimal solution to address this issue begins with assessing whether testing your web application across all these browsers and versions is necessary. Quickly examining visitor statistics and the browsers in use can provide insights. From the findings, you can prioritize your testing efforts, focusing on browsers with the highest user base initially.

However, if your web application caters to users utilizing a wide range of browsers and versions, opting for an AI-powered test orchestration and execution like LambdaTest is advisable. This tool offers a comprehensive combination of over 3000+ latest browsers, browser versions, and operating systems.

Combinations for cross-browser testing

The number of combinations for cross-browser testing is extensive. It involves testing the website on numerous browsers, each with its own version. It’s possible that a CSS element functioning well in one version may not be effective in two versions prior. Consider incorporating different operating systems and resolutions for each browser and version. Additionally, mobile operating systems, resolutions, and browsers further complicate the scenario. The sheer magnitude of these combinations can be overwhelming to calculate, let alone conduct testing.

The silver lining lies in simplifying the approach. Despite the existence of over 80 Chrome versions, 75 Firefox versions, and continued usage of Internet Explorer in many organizations, addressing this challenge can be achieved by focusing on a streamlined strategy.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that people generally keep their browsers updated, rendering testing on older versions unnecessary and, in essence, a waste of time and effort.

Now, when it comes to testing, setting up dedicated systems or opting for virtual environments can be a laborious task and an expensive undertaking. To address this challenge, the most prudent option is to turn to cloud-based online cross-browser testing systems, which come pre-configured for users. Users only need to select the system specifications and execute the tests, which can be done manually or through automation.

Continuous Browser Updates

Cross-browser testing faces the hurdle of frequent browser updates. Unlike operating systems and resolutions that don’t undergo constant changes, browsers are updated every 6 to 8 weeks, following an Agile development approach. This necessitates that QA professionals repeatedly conduct tests at regular intervals.

Different businesses adopt distinct approaches. Some neglect the new versions unless a user reports a bug, which may seem convenient but can potentially drive away customers before any corrective action is taken. Delayed damage control can result in the loss of valuable clientele and substantially impact ROI.

On the other hand, some businesses take a proactive approach, regularly updating their sites with the latest browser versions to prevent potential issues. Achieving this requires staying informed about various updates, as demonstrated by Chrome’s evolution.

Maintenance of Robust Infrastructure

Successfully testing on every conceivable browser version, along with multiple platforms and device resolutions, demands the availability of all these elements in-house. In essence, this requires maintaining multiple systems, each tailored to specific browsers and platforms. This not only incurs substantial costs but also mandates a proficient team to ensure its consistent upkeep and maintenance.

The challenge of infrastructure maintenance in cross-browser testing arises mainly when using manual processes involving the creation of your lab or virtual systems. However, this challenge can be overcome by transitioning to an online, cloud-based tool. Cloud-based tools offer a well-maintained and efficient infrastructure in the cloud, eliminating the need for manual infrastructure management. For instance, when dealing with creating and maintaining a Selenium grid, leveraging the servers of an online tool allows testers to focus solely on test script development.

However, it’s worth noting that this approach may encounter latency and delayed execution due to the numerous requests involved in the online tool process. While online tools may provide metrics to address latency issues, achieving precise figures can be challenging. Nevertheless, these concerns are relatively minor compared to the challenges of manual infrastructure maintenance.

Automating cross-browser testing

This presents a formidable challenge. While automated browser testing is considered a valuable asset for significantly expediting the release cycles of web applications, the process is far from being a quick and straightforward task. It serves as a nuanced solution to a complex problem.

Despite the seemingly uncomplicated nature of running automation for functional testing with tools like Selenium, achieving success in automated cloud-based browser testing necessitates substantial effort and time investment. This involves crafting test scripts, defining capabilities, and other preparatory activities to enhance effectiveness.

To overcome the complexities associated with cross-browser testing, the most effective approach is to opt for a cross-browser testing tool equipped with essential features for automation. It is crucial to select an automation tool with a robust repository of browser versions on its server, ensuring compatibility with the latest browser updates and incorporating recent browser features.

The chosen tool should be able to conduct web application testing across various browsers, capture high-definition screenshots, record videos, and offer additional functionalities.

LambdaTest stands out as an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that encompasses all the fundamental features to address diverse requirements in cross-browser testing. LambdaTest is an AI-powered cloud-based testing platform that helps in performing testing across 3000+ browsers and operating systems.

Testing your website for visual glitches across various screen resolutions

This can be time-consuming when performed manually. While test automation is an obvious consideration, detecting layout issues for sites and web applications through automation poses its own challenges, especially when dealing with diverse test environments.

To address this challenge, a Selenium tool can streamline UI testing automation. In this scenario, automated tests should execute various actions while concurrently capturing screenshots. Reviewing these screenshots aids in assessing the consistency of the user interface. A cloud-based cross-browser testing tool such as LambdaTest can be a suitable choice for simultaneous testing across multiple screen resolutions.

Conclusion

As the multitude of operating systems, devices, browsers, and their versions continues to rise, it becomes imperative to assess the cross-browser compatibility of a website or application periodically. While some developers perceive it as the concluding step in the web app design process, its significance is undeniable.

Challenges linked to cross-browser compatibility can pose significant obstacles to ensuring the seamless performance of web applications. It is crucial to address fundamental questions such as the definition of cross-browser testing, identification of common issues in this testing process, understanding the root causes of cross-browser compatibility issues, and determining the specific scenarios to test during cross-browser testing.

Validating the performance of every web application across various browsers is essential, yet it introduces challenges that can complicate the responsibilities of testers and developers.