To improve and accelerate Web sites and applications testing, developers often use a class of tools called “headless browsers”. These tools are used to test the behavior of web browsers automatically, without visualization.
The most popular headless browsers are currently PhantomJS for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebKit, the layout engine of Safari and Chrome, and SlimerJS for testing under Gecko, Firefox’s layout engine.
Finally (drum roll please!), the development of a new tool for Trident – the layout engine of Internet Explorer – started on Github this fall. That is important to note because over 50% of desktops browsing the Web are still equipped with a version of Internet Explorer, from version 6 (4.92%) to version 10 (17 , 5%) inclusive. In fact, TrifleJS is another add-on to PhantomJS for the .NET Windows environment.
What does this mean for web developers?
With these tools we can now:
- Create screenshot scripts to see our web projects rendering in each of these three layout engines;
- Check all the links of a web project and make sure that there is no 30X/40X/50X errors (e.g. 300,404,501);
- Create integration tests for complex forms with 10,000 field entries;
- Create an army of robots grabbing all the images of cats on Imgur. 🙂
Please check this website again after the New Year if you’re interested. I will try to set up a short demonstration and post it in my next blog post.