Top Cross Browser Testing Challenges and How to Overcome them via Automation

Have you ever wondered how to successfully automate your cross-browser tests? With the number and type of mobile and tablet devices available in the market increasing daily and the crazy combination of browser types and browser versions making things even more complicated, if you are a website or web app developer then making sure your application renders and functions correctly on all those combination of browsers, devices and platforms is often enough to make you want to pull out your hair! Add things like compatibility and browser support for IE11 to the mix and things can get pretty tense. However, with the recent advancements in cross browser test accelerator technologies today we can perform these cross browser tests more reliably and more extensively than ever before.

Before we delve deeper into different approaches to automate your cross browser testing efforts, let’s first see what Cross Browser Testing is all about, why performing cross platform compatibility testing is often inadequate because of the various challenges associated with it, how to mitigate these challenges via test automation and finally, all the features to look for when comparing some of the best cross browser testing tools to automate such testing efforts.

What is Cross Browser Testing?

Cross Browser Testing is the type of testing where we verify to ensure that an application works as expected across different browsers, running on different operating systems and device types. In other words, by performing this type of functional testing a tester checks the compatibility of a website or web app across all supported browser types. Thus, by conducting specialized browser testing, you can ensure that the website / web app is able to deliver an optimal user experience, irrespective of the browser in which it is viewed or accessed.

Major Challenges with Cross-Browser Testing

Let us face it! Testing a web application across all major browser/device/OS platform combinations can be a seriously daunting task. One of the major pain-point with performing thorough Cross Browser Testing is that your testing team would have to test the same website or web application across all the different browsers, operating systems and mobile devices. This is when each browser uses their own different technology to render HTML. Mentioned below are some of the major aspects that make cross browser testing challenging.

1. It is IMPOSSIBLE to test in All Browser Combinations

Let’s assume that your contract with the client mandates that the website or web application being developed should support Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. While this may rather seem a little too formidable at first, it actually is pretty manageable:

macOS: 4 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

Windows: 4 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Linux: 3 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

That’s a total of 11 browser combinations.

But not all your end users are expected to be using the very latest version of each of these browsers. So it is often safe to test using at least the latest 2 versions of each browser.

macOS: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

Windows: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Linux: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)


That’s a total of 22 browser types.

Now that we have taken the latest 2 versions of each browser type into consideration how about the latest versions of each OS? Surely, people upgrade their OS far less often than they upgrade their browsers, right? So to be safe, let’s test across the latest 3 versions of each OS platform.

macOS Catalina: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

macOS Mojave: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

macOS High Sierra: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

Windows 10: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Windows 8.1: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Windows 8: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Ubuntu 20.04: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Ubuntu 19.10: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Ubuntu 18.04: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)


That’s a total of 66 browser combinations.

What started out as a manageable list is now already a substantial and daunting list of browser combinations to test against even for teams with a dedicated team of a good number of QA specialists. Add to the mix the possibility of testing across 32x and 64x variations of each OS type, testing across various possible screen resolutions and the fact that you’d need to retest across each of these combinations every time there is a bug fix, it is easy to feel frustrated and even give up!

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