When testing web apps for a general/wide-ranging audience, one must test across a slew of different browsers and operating systems (and different versions of each). This is a real pain, even if you have an army of testers at hand (which most of us don't). I employ various tools to help me with this (CrossBrowserTesting.com, BrowserCam, VM Ware with different VM setups, etc.). But, the reality is that I don't feel like these really stack up to what I need. More specifically, BrowserCam, and its competitors do not. CrossBrowserTesting is actually pretty awesome and does what it advertises quite nicely, it's a favorite tool right now.
What I'm after is a way to see what a survey of pages on my site look like on different browsers and OS's. This is by no means a definitive test of a site, but more of a quick visual inspection of appearance, without having to fire up a dozen different pages across maybe 30 different browsers/OS configurations. We use an automated test suite to test the bulk of other things, but appearance can't be tested that way.
BrowserCam helps, but honestly I find it quite lacking as a tool in this arena. Note, I'm picking on BrowserCam, as that's the one I use, but the others (BrowserShots, Litmus, etc.) all seem to suffer some or all of these problems, and further, they don't seem to have projects or ways to establish a standard suite of tests. Getting on with it, all of this really boils down to two primary things:
- Ability to edit the settings on a project's images. As far as I can tell, once you select the URL's, image size, browsers, etc. for a project, there is no way to change any of that! What if I just want to change the window size? Can't, I have to create a new project (or add new images to the existing one, replicating all my previous work. This seems like an obvious hole.
- Automation. I want to be able to automate regeneration of the project. I'd like something like a simple URL/HTTP API to do this, so that I can, from a command line, use curl or similar to issue a single HTTP request that will regenerate a project's images. Thus, the API would need to use HTTP authentication or similar, and specify which project to regenerate. With this, I would be able to automate requesting a regeneration of the project as part of/after deploying my application.
Finally, if anyone knows of a service similar to BrowserCam that solves these, even if it supports a few less browsers, do let me know. At very minimum it would need to handle Internet Explorer and Firefox, preferably also Safari, and cover Windows XP, Vista, MacOS X 10.5, and one popular Linux flavor. Nice to haves would include Opera and various others.