Sauce Lab’s Scout: Easy Cross-browser Testing

Ask any web developer, and they’ll tell you that one of the toughest parts of their job is making sure that a site design looks good in all the major web browsers. As widespread as it is, Internet Explorer has a horrible reputation among web developers because Microsoft has not always supported the latest open standards in Hypertext Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets.

As a result, web developers often have to check their designs against multiple browsers on a variety of operating systems, including Windows XP and 7, Macintosh OS X, and open-source Linux. Naturally, doing so has often required developers to have multiple operating systems installed on multiple machines in order to cover all their bases.

That is, until now. A few months ago, I discovered a wonderful new service called Scout, which provides developers with 35+ browser/operating system combinations via a Firefox sidebar add-on. Now, I can view a client’s site in multiple browsers—old and new—to ensure it looks great no matter who is viewing it.

Sauce Lab’s Scout sidebar add-on for Firefox.

Sauce Lab's Scout sidebar

How much does something like this cost? Well, Scout is what’s known as a “freemium” app, meaning you get it free for limited, basic service, but then you have to pay for anything over that. So Scout is free for 45 minutes of use per month, but if you go beyond that, it’ll cost you $29 per month for just one user, with more expensive plans that scale up from there.

Right now, I’m using only the free version to do final testing before going live with sites, but I can see the day soon when I’ll have to shell out the extra money, and it’ll be well worth it to ensure that client sites look great even if someone is still using (God forbid) Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP.

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