The Full Browser Stack Review

This piece is part of our intern blogger series.

There’s more to software development than you might think. Many people believe that once a product is finished, it is ready to be released to the public. However, there is one very important factor that must be taken into consideration when releasing software: Hardware. It may seem trivial, but it is surprising how many developers pay little attention to this detail. This is why the developers at Digital Scientists perform cross-browser testing with a product called BrowserStack.

BrowserStack logoThere are countless mobile devices and tablets that we at Digital Scientists must take into account. When buying a phone, we can choose between an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nexus, Nokia, etc. Once we choose the brand we like, then we have to choose which model phone to get. With a new smartphone version coming out almost every year, there are many options to choose from. Each device has different hardware and runs on different versions of different operating systems. The point is that there are literally hundreds of different products that consumers can choose from, and the list of devices gets even bigger when we include tablets and computers.

BrowserStack device variety
When we create a product, it must be accessible to as many devices as possible. It is rare to see a website that works on every system in the same way. This is why product testing is a must. Developers need to ensure that every single person is able to access the product. Without compatibility-testing sites, software development would be a huge pain. Developers and companies could try their best to physically test as many devices as possible or use emulators, but this is unrealistic and inefficient. We focus on providing the best product for our customers in an efficient and timely manner. This is why BrowserStack is such an important tool.

BrowserStack allows developers to compatibility-test across a vast list of devices — and with 30,000 paid users and 520,000 registered developers, BrowserStack is a trusted favorite in the industry. It gives us the ability to test their websites and applications on physical devices. The availability of over 1,000 different browsers and devices to test ensures that our developers will be able to reach the widest range users possible.

BrowserStack’s list of devices factors in many important environmental characteristics, including:

  • Market share
  • Popularity
  • OS versions
  • Screen sizes
  • Upcoming devices
  • Launch year
  • Manufacturers

Testing on these devices is made easy by using each device’s default factory settings with its native interaction settings. This makes testing simple and effective — as the tester will be seeing and interacting in the exact same way the user would.

At this point you are probably asking “How does BrowserStack actually work?” While BrowserStack has a wide variety of features, the product is actually fairly easy to use.

Here’s an example of how to use BrowserStack:

How to Use BrowserStack - Select Device
First, BrowserStack will give you a list of devices to choose from: You can select which device you want and which browser to load.

How to Use BrowserStack - Connect Device
Once it has been connected, you will see the device on-screen, exactly as you might experience it in real life.

How to Use BrowserStack - Device Preview
From here, you can test to make sure your website is working. If there is something wrong, you are given access to the Dev tools that allow you to inspect the page, just as you would on a computer.

How to Use BrowserStack - Inspector Pane
If you want to test on a local server, then you can through the “Settings” menu.

How to Use BrowserStack - Settings
As you can see, the process to test compatibility on different websites and different devices is simple and easy. The variety of options and tools provided by live testing can be accessed by anyone without training.

Not only can users test compatibility with BrowserStack, but they can also run Selenium testing across all browsers and devices with the same ease. BrowserStack’s Selenium testing allows users can run tests on internal servers with real time debugging. With support for Python, Ruby, Java, C#, Perl, PHP, and others — with unlimited testing time on secure and private browsers, Selenium testing is made easy and much more accessible to developers.

BrowserStack’s “Screenshots” feature provides a simple way to generate simulated images of what a website will look like on certain versions of devices. This is especially helpful because it allows quick access to the aesthetics of a website, and these screenshots can be shared with the QA team to identify issues during the product testing cycle.

BrowserStack Review - Generate Screenshots
Generating screenshots is as easy as typing in a URL and clicking the version(s) you want.

The combined functions of compatibility testing, Selenium testing, and screenshots makes BrowserStack an absolute necessity for our product testing team. However, there are plenty of other programs to test websites and software. One BrowserStack alternative is Sauce Labs. Sauce Labs is another cross-browser testing service with similar features.

Advantages over BrowserStack alternatives:
So what makes BrowserStack a favorite of Digital Scientists over others?

To start with, BrowserStack has a strong focus on security. Our team wants to ensure that all of our client’s information is safe and secure. BrowserStack’s large list of security policies makes sure this is possible. Before a developer tests on a virtual machine, the machine is reset to its factory settings. Usage logs and test history are available to users without releasing any personal data. BrowserStack also partners with the best hosting services to provide privacy to users.

Another reason we prefer BrowserStack is accessibility. Browsers and devices are always available without waiting. All users need is an internet connection. The testing resources also are also built to scale to large teams or projects when needed. Buyers can choose which portions of BrowserStack they want — and this means that extra money will not be wasted on unnecessary products.

BrowserStack Review - Scalable Services and Pricing
BrowserStack recommends which devices to focus testing based on how many unique visitors your business gets per month.

Another plus for BrowserStack is its speed. The process for live cross-browser / device testing is very quick. This is a common problem for other services since setting up devices for testing usually takes lots of time. But with BrowserStack, we are able to test and update client sites with ease.

As technology continues to advance and companies continue to release new products, there will always be a need for compatibility testing. Digital Scientists will continue to keep up with this evolving market to provide the best quality products with the help of the robust cross-browser features that BrowserStack provides.

Wake Biederbeck is a Digital Scientists intern from Riverwood International Charter School.