Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Testing Web Apps in Multiple Browsers

Ned Batchelder writes an interesting post on the problems of having to test websites in multiple version of Internet Explorer:

"One of the banes of a web developer's existence is the need to test their site in Internet Explorer, not just once, but in multiple versions of Internet Explorer. These days, IE's 6, 7, and 8 are pretty much required. Because of their tight integration with Windows, it's difficult to run all three side by side."

To get around the problem he mentions a nice little tool called Xenocode, which is based on application-level virtualization. The tool virtualizes the operating system services seen by your application and this way the code seems to be running on program files directories that doesn't actually exist.

Nice. But the obvious question is why bother with additional tools to 'get around' the problem of multiple broswer types (not just IE 6, 7, & 8, but also Safari and Firefox!) when you can have an internet application that's not dependent on the browser at all!

What happens when tomorrow IE introduces a new feature that doesn't suit your application? For many business applications, IE is simply not suitable at all. After all, the browser was invented for 'browsing' - not for the storage and manipulation of large business data-sets and the demands of power users.

The nice thing about applications developed in uniPaaS is that they don't rely on the browser at all as a sandbox. The uniPaaS RIA Client module IS the sandbox - and it's specially designed and optimized for real business applications - unlike the browser.

So you can effectively operate drill-down screens, context menus, pop-up screens, pull-down menus, and the rest. There's also no need to override IE's own menus just to create your own.

Better to do it once and do it right I say. Rather than constantly patch or supplement a tool that's not right for the job.