BrowserLab Gives Web Developers a Better View of Their Work

Browser proliferation presents a big challenge for web developers, who need to know how their pages and sites perform across multiple browsers and operating systems.

Adobe Labs is offering a free preview of its BrowserLab, an online service capable of rendering web pages as they will appear in a variety of browser environments, allowing developers to make compatibility changes where necessary.

While not a complete solution in terms of support for all browers, BrowserLab can make compatibility testing easier, especially for users of Adobe's Dreamweaver CS4 web development tool.

Available free "for a limited time," the BrowserLab preview presents developers with an exact rendering of their pages, including the ability to overlap the images and zooming to help pinpoint errors. Screenshots may also be generated using the service.

Adoble said the preview would eventually be converted into a paid service, although no specific pricing or plans have been announced.

Used with Dreamweaver CS4, developers can also test local content and different states of interactive content. Otherwise, content must be posted to a publicly-available web site in order to be viewed in BrowserLab, the company said.

Supported browsers and operating systems include Firefox 2.x and 3.x on Windows XP and Mac OS X; Internet Explorer 6.x and 7.x on Windows XP; and Safari 3.x on Mac OS X. Users must be running Windows XP or Vista or Mac OS X with Adobe Flash 10 installed.

IE 8, Chrome, and Opera are not presently supported.

BrowserLab allows public web pages to be seen in a variety of ways, including a one-up view that shows a single screenshot rendered in the browser of the user's your choice; a two-up view that shows two screenshots side by side, so users can compare how the page looks in different browsers; and an onion skin view that overlays two screenshots in different browsers, with adjustable transparency.

David Coursey tweets as dcoursey and can be reached using the contact form located at www.coursey.com/contact.

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