Tools for Cross-browser Compatibility: Screen Capture
Several other features complete the Adobe® BrowserLab application: Align, Delay, Ruler, and multi-language support.
The Align tool (four-square button next to browsers selection) lets you align a particular point on each view for a more precise comparison.
The Ruler tool turns on horizontal and vertical guides (X and Y axes) for precise measuring of page element placement. (I love me some rulers, people!)
As for the Delay tool, can you say "Oh, snap!". (No, not literally.) With this feature, you can add a delay for the HTML to load, giving other scripting (Ajax, animations, Flash, etc.) a head start. Else, you might have a page view with white space where those elements should have loaded.
There is also multi-language support. Adobe® BrowserLab can be viewed in English, French, German, and Japanese. C'est bon, oui!
At present, the supported browsers/OS are limited to the latest few of the most popular desktop browsers, but expect Adobe® to expand this application in the future. The Adobe® BrowserLab is free to use, upon registration.
BrowserShots.org also offers a free browser screenshot application. Registration (free) is not required, but it is recommended if you intend to pull more than a couple screenshots.
It is hard to imagine that your testing will require a browser that Browser Shots does not support. Their services include the most popular browsers, as well as more obscure browsers and platforms.
Deploying the application is easy. Simply enter a full URL for a page that you want to test, check off the browsers that you want to view, then click the SUBMIT button.
Understandably, this great tool is popular and busy, so screenshot load times can be long. Some browser captures might load in less than 5 minutes, while others might take nearly an hour. Once you submit your test request, Browser Shots will show a time estimate for the results, along with a request expiration time. Screenshots will appear in this pane as they are available. Click the thumbnail to see a larger view. Click the Extend button if more time is needed to complete your request. As long as you do not close its browser window, Browser Shots will keep churning out your screenshots within the time limit.
If you want a glimpse of the request queue, with time estimates, select "Queue" from the BrowserShots.org navigation menu.
(Note: Do not use Browser Shots for any confidential Web pages, as BrowserShots.org has a page that displays recently served screenshots for any and all users.)
BrowserShots.org appears to be ad-supported, so there are plenty of ads to clutter the site. But, hey, it is a free application. More than 100 computers worldwide run by volunteers make Browser Shots possible. Shoutout to them all! Much appreciated.
These browser screen capture tools are invaluable. Obviously they are not as thorough and efficient as live browser testing, but they offer an important tool for web developers on a budget. All too often, multi-browser testing is overlooked in a project budget. Fight for it, as best you can.
Tyme is a freelance writer and multimedia specialist of many years. She likes walks in the park, cotton candy, and baby ducks. To learn more: MultimediaByTyme.com.