Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Adobe BrowserLab: The Meer Meer rises

Category: Adobe, Browsers, Debugging

>We were excited to see the sneak preview of what was called Meer Meer, at the last Adobe MAX.

Today Adobe has released a preview of the newly branded Adobe BrowserLab:

BrowserLab provides web designers exact renderings of their web pages in multiple browsers and operating systems, on demand. BrowserLab is a powerful solution for cross-browser compatibility testing, featuring multiple viewing and comparison tools, as well as customizable preferences. Since BrowserLab is an online service, it can be accessed from virtually any computer connected to the web. Also, Adobe Dreamweaver® CS4 software users have access to additional functionality such as testing local and active content.

Once into the browser lab you put in the URL for the site that you want to check, and then you can see it loaded up on the server on various browsers:

This is a great tool. Being able to point my application and view how it looks in various browser in a nice UI is great. Doing onion peal analysis is great. A lot faster than other browser shot sites up there.

The team will be adding to the list of current browsers supported (OS: XP or OS X, Firefox 2/3, IE 6/7), for example adding IE 8, Chrome, etc. There is also a lot of room for other great features.

Here is my wish list:

  • I would love to setup alerts and have the browser lab be watching over my site. Tell me when something goes wrong (e.g. difference in browsers in the onion peal of more than X pixels?)
  • Open API: I would love to have Bespin able to send up its projects to BrowserLab. Opening a new window would work, and inline would be even cooler. They have integrated Dreamweaver so that it can do more than you can on the website. For example, you can interact with the pages and see the differences due to the live WebKit magic they have. I would love to see this on the website itself.
  • Dreamweaver features online. Dreamweaver has a bunch of cool analytics that it runs on the codebase. I would love to see those available in BrowserLab, so it could tell me “hey, the CSS that you are using with this HTML structure causes a problem in IE 6″. Gold!

Really glad to see BrowserLab out there, and can’t wait to see progress. What would you like to see?

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:46 pm
15 Comments

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4.1 rating from 35 votes

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A nice UI, but done before many a time.

I find its better to actually test them yourself rather than view images, if possible, as that brings up a lot of stuff you wouldn’t otherwise see. IETester is a great tool for testing all the IEs. http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage

Comment by youngestlinton — June 3, 2009

what i’d like to see? well, for starters, the thing working. seens like they are having some heavy traffic and are unable to accept new users. meh guess i’ll have to wait

Comment by daitro — June 3, 2009

I would like see active DOM nodes and actual CSS rules when you hover the image. :# I know Flash can render HTML markup so it can easily be done. It will make the much more interesting for none dreamweaver or adobe fans.

Comment by V1 — June 3, 2009

Hi, fellow Ajaxians.
I was one of the four individuals who invented Meer Meer here in Chicago in 2007 and sold it to Adobe that same year. In fact, I am the person who named it Meer Meer. We were pretty tired of renting time on other testing sites or updating our licenses and equipment to test in house. Today, we’re pretty excited to see this testing tool hit the streets. I can say that it was conceived and built with many more ground-breaking features than are being revealed right now in this beta release, and web designers should expect to see some or all of these features in the near future. It will be great to see everyone’s feedback here on this message board (and elsewhere!)

Comment by bluebay — June 3, 2009

Hi, this is Rich from the BrowserLab team. We’re thrilled at the response so far! We’ve reached the limit for this first launch, so we’re temporarily “closed.” We will have more openings over time. We’re really sorry you can’t try it at this time. Updates will be posted here: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/442068?tstart=0

Thanks,
Rich
BrowserLab Product Marketing

Comment by richlee — June 3, 2009

Does this only show graphical/visual screenshots in different browsers? Is there any interaction/functionality of the web site in different browsers? If not, can’t say I’m too impressed (though the onion skin is cool) as I’ll stick with Sun’s Virtual Box and IETester for cross browser testing.

Comment by cancelbubble — June 3, 2009

+1 for cancelbubble’s comment. I’m sure services like this (and there are already dozens so this isn’t really unique) are useful to people making static websites. But who really does that anymore. You need more than a screenshot these days. You also need to test things like JavaScript functionality.

This is where services like this fall flat on their face. You still need to boot up a VirtualBox instance (or VMWare if you prefer) to test that type of stuff. If you already got it up to test your interactive functionality might as well use that to test the look as well. So really no need for a product like this.

Now if someone could offer a service where I could connect to an remote IE6, 7 and 8, Mac Safari, etc (maybe seemless like Citrix offers) then that would be really hot. Then I could not only make sure it looks right but also make sure it acts right without the need to carry around half a dozen virtual machines to test all the environments.

Comment by eric2 — June 3, 2009

Virtualisation for an IE 6 installation is ALL you need – everything else can run on the same Windows installation.

Comment by Darkimmortal — June 3, 2009

I agree 100% that this has only marginal use for app development if it doesn’t do interaction.

Another problem is that your development server has to be running on the open internet, which is complete foolishness from a security perspective. I don’t know if this can access the site across HTTPS with some form of authentication, but if it can’t, there’s no way I could use this.

Comment by Joeri — June 4, 2009

I agree with some others above, seeing just a screen shot doesn’t cut it when designing apps. I need to see cookies and what’s coming through the HTTP pipe, so a virtual machine is still the way to go.

Comment by WillPeavy — June 4, 2009

I’m so happy to see a major player in the software industry step up to the challenge of tackling the nightmare that is cross-browser compatibility testing.

Adding support for authentication, realtime interactivity, and the ability to enable/disable plug-ins like Flash or Quicktime would be a value add. Also, options to enable/disable built-in browser functionality like Javascript support would be helpful.

Comment by disruptive — June 4, 2009

Kenneth here, also of the BrowserLab team. While you can’t currently directly interact with the page in BrowserLab, you *can* preview it any state using Dreamweaver CS4′s “Pause JavaScript” command and the BrowserLab Dreamweaver extensions, posted here:

http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/browserlab.html

By viewing the page in Dreamweaver’s live view and then pausing it in the state you’re interested in, you can both test interactive pages as well as pages that aren’t posted publicly (since they’re securely uploaded directly to the BrowserLab service). Check it out!

Comment by kberger — June 4, 2009

By far this is the best browser testing website, http://www.crossbrowsertesting.com

Comment by nogray — June 4, 2009

@kberger:
Interesting, but how does this work? Does it send the DOM to the server? How would I as a web developer be able to know for sure that the same sequence of actions in the tested browser would result in the same view that browserlab is giving me?

Comment by Joeri — June 5, 2009

@Joeri – using Dreamweaver CS4′s Live View you’re basically getting a Webkit-based rendering of the page you can interact with. Essentially you do that- interact with the page in DW CS4, load data, trigger JS widgets/etc, and then hit F6 to ‘freeze’ JS and the DOM, sending the resulting code + assets (images/etc) to the BrowserLab service directly for distributed preview, essentially like an HTTP response. Other than requiring a local testing environment on hand to build the page/service back-end requests any design/layout/interactive state you can get to in DW’s Live View can be viewed in BrowserLab across the entire array of browsers effectively this way.

-Scott Fegette
(Adobe BrowserLab Product Manager)

Comment by sfegette — June 9, 2009

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