Tutorial Thursday

The biggest hassle with Web development is that different browsers have a tendency to display sites a little differently. Our site is typically verified in the latest two versions of Firefox, Flock, Opera, and Internet Explorer. I have machines that run two versions of each of those browsers, but if you didn’t, notice Safari isn’t on that list. First I’m going to walk you through where I find old versions of all the different browsers (standalone and installable versions) and then I’ll cover a couple websites that do the dirty work for you.


Firefox is the Web browser that is beginning to capture a large percentage of the market share from Internet Explorer. Developers typically rejoice at this because there are normally far less problems designing websites that work with Firefox than with Internet Explorer. The best part is that it is a piece of cake to get your hands on any version of Firefox, even all the way back to Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1!



 Flock is a branch off of Firefox and is currently based on Firefox 1.5. Technically speaking if your site works in Firefox 1.5 then it shouldn’t have any problems in Flock, but it is always better to be safe by testing it in Flock as well.


–Internet Explorer–

The most popular browser used on the Internet is indisputably Internet Explorer, but other alternatives are starting to creep up and take over its’ market share. To make things a little more difficult, Microsoft does not allow more than one instance of IE to be installed at the same time. Therefore you will find the standalone versions below to be extremely useful. Note: Internet Explorer is much more standards compliant than previous versions and coding a website to work with it is much easier, but it isn’t quite as nice as other browsers yet.



Opera is often referred to as the most standards compliant browser that is available and when they started to offer their desktop browser at no cost, it attracted a lot of new users. At that time, standalone and portable versions started to emerge which makes it even easier for Web developers to test their sites against Opera.



Safari is Apple’s claim-to-fame browser that is based off of Konquerer for Linux. To the surprise of many people this is probably the most standards compliant browser, but Windows users are left out in the dark when it comes to testing a site using it. The Swift browser is supposed to render sites similarly to Safari except you can use it in Windows, but my experience with Swift is that it does not render things the same way as Safari.



Alright, so we went through where you can find the most popular browsers so that you can install them, but what if you want to keep your computer clutter free and just want to do a quick check? The most popular website that will do many of the browsers you want is called BrowserShots. They recently trimmed down their selection of browsers eliminating Safari and Internet Explorer editions, but they still offer multiple versions of Dillo, Epiphany, Firebird, Firefox, Flock, Galeon, Konqueror, Mozilla, Navigator, Opera, Phoenix, and SeaMonkey. One thing that always eliminated the usefulness of the site, however, was that the screenshots can take up to 4 hours to be generated based upon how many people are waiting for their own websites to get processed.

Okay… drum roll please! Total Validator is my favorite website because it snaps screenshots of your site within minutes, and if you don’t feel like waiting around you can have it email you the results. Besides for checking screenshots it can also validate your HTML, look for broken links, and a bunch of other stuff, too. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot to mention that the browsers they do have available are also available on multiple operating systems, for example, Firefox 2 can be tested on Windows, Linux, and OS/X! Where else are you going to find a service that is able to do all of these:

  • Windows XP
    • Internet Explorer 7
    • Internet Explorer 6
    • Internet Explorer 5.5
    • Internet Explorer 5
    • Internet Explorer 4
    • Netscape 6.2
  • Windows 2000
    • Lynx 2.8
    • Firefox 2.0
    • Firefox 1.5
    • Firefox 1.0
    • Mozilla 1.7
    • Netscape 4.8
    • Netscape 3.0
    • Opera 9
    • Opera 8
    • Opera 7
  • Linux
    • Lynx 2.8
    • Firefox 2.0
    • Firefox 1.5
    • Firefox 1.0
    • Mozilla 1.7
    • Konqueror 3
    • Epiphany/Gnome 2
  • Apple Mac (OS/X)
    • Safari 2.0
    • Firefox 2.0
    • Mozilla 1.7
    • Opera 9

 I would recommend that you install at least one version of each primary browser mentioned above, and then you can use an online solution to test the rest. From the images you should be able to see if the HTML code is being displayed properly, and whether there were any serious errors by a malfunctioning script that you might be using. If you have a better solution for testing a website in another browser feel free to let us know in the comments below!