Which Web Browser Should You Use For Testing?

What is a Website Programmer?

Someone who has taken at least two years to learn and experience the art of writing web pages by hand, in the HTML programming langauge. And even this would not qualify you as a website programmer really. A “Proper” website programmer is someone who can programme, by hand, in HTML (HyperText Markup Langauge), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), PHP (Personal Home Page and then PHP Hypertext Preprocessor), JavaScript, MySQL and other programming/scripting languages. So what has this got to do with Web Browsers?

Well. If you are not a website programmer and you (or someone you have hired) are using a HTML Software Package such as Dreamweaver to create your web pages; You should be aware of the following:


A Layout Engine is basically the core coding of a web browser that dictates how it should format (i.e. display, position and style) Text, Images, Tables, Paragraphs, Embed Audio/Video and so on. Although the website programmer has some control of this formatting via HTML and CSS instructions, at the end of the day web browsers have their own unique way of interpreting the website programmer’s instructions. For example. If a website programmer creates a questionnaire form made up of standard elements (i.e. drop-down menus, edit boxes and check (tick) boxes) most, if not all, web browsers should display those elements perfectly – In the correct positions, just as specified by the programmer.

However. If the programmer decides to use a scripting language such as JavaScript or JQuery to create the same questionnaire form things may go wrong; Simply because the standard code would be understood by all web browsers whereas the JavaScript or JQuery code might not be understood by all web browsers. This could mean the elements are not positioned properly and/or are displayed too big or small for example. These errors (bugs) can be caused by the programmer’s code, the web browser’s layout engine, the scripting language or all three.


Many programmers believe that because certain web browsers use a certain Layout Engine they do not need to download/install/use the other web browsers that use the same layout engine. For example. Firefox and Flock use the same layout engine, called Gecko, which means they should both display a web page the same because they are both following the Gecko layout/formatting rules.

So a web page’s text and images for example should be in the same position regardless if that web page is displayed with Firefox or Flock. So why download Flock for example when you can test your web page with Firefox only? The answer is because nothing ever runs that smoothly – No one follows all of the rules all of the time.


Internet Explorer 8 for example uses a different layout engine, called Trident, so it will display a web page differently to a Gecko web browser. Internet Explorer 6 does not display/support .png files in terms of transparent images (they are displayed as grey pixels instead of see-through pixels). Firefox does not display .wmv video files by default (you need to install a separate piece of software called an Add-On).

Some web browsers are naturally cluttered up with Toolbars which means a web page might look perfect on a uncluttered web browser but look awful, and need scrolling, when toolbars are cluttering.

Popularity. One reason to download/install the web browser called Maxthon is because it is China based and has been downloaded more than 218 Million times (at the time of writing). If your web pages are not displaying properly in Maxthon can you afford to lose 218 Million potential, buying, visitors?


With the above said, I would strongly recommend you download and install all web browsers. That way you can see exactly how a web page is displayed in a certain web browser. And always keep each web browser up-to-date by either using its CHECK FOR UPDATES feature or by checking its website for update files.

The same applies to updating your scripting languages. Check their websites regularly for update files.

Posted under JavaScript

Published on 18/04/2010

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