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I work at a web development company and as such, we'd like to have our websites tested for compatibility against as many different browser, running on as many different platforms as possible. One way of doing this would be setting up dedicated servers, each with a different OS (Mac, Linux, WinXP, Vista, etc.) and trying to get multiple versions of the same browser to run on the same box. I don't think it's that easy to for example try to get WinXP to run with IE6, IE7 and IE8 all set up at once.

There are websites dedicated to this purpose, but they are slow and costly so my company would rather set up our own in-house service if it's not too much of a hassle.


Is there any (relatively) simple way of setting up a server as a "screenshot factory", so when designing a website we could get it to produce screenshots of a lot of browsers so we can check for compatibility issues?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You just need some basic form of Virtualisation - something like VirtualBox, VMWare etc. would do. Then you just install each client OS/browser in a different VM and test from each of them from that one machine. LOADS of people do this exact thing, it's not even that complex to setup. Ask if you need a bit more help.

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That sounds like the thing I want to do, but how do I then automate the process of accessing an URL and taking a screenshot of the produced page? I like the frontend of the browsershots page, so I'd like to just type in an URL and click "GO", then get the resulting screenshots. Selenium maybe? Has anyone done this? – aright Aug 17 '09 at 15:19
If you only want screenshots then that browsershots sounds more like it (if there's enough people out there running the OS/browser combos you need anyway), using a VM model means it would be harder (but scriptable) to get the screenshots, but of course you would be able to see the screen's behaviour rather than a static image if needed. It depends if you just want a picture or more than that. – Chopper3 Aug 17 '09 at 15:24
That's true, it'd sometimes be handy to be able to be able to see the behavior by logging in instead of getting just static screenshots. On the screenshots though, do you know of any handy (cross-platform and free) utilities for taking such screenshots? – aright Aug 17 '09 at 18:39
I might be wrong but there might be a vmware tools api that could do that for you regardless of OS. – Chopper3 Aug 17 '09 at 20:52


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Yeah, browsershots is in fact one of the pages I'd seen for this purpose, but it's quite slow unless you pay the ~$30 to get special treatment, and in some cases, like testing https stuff, doesn't give you the result you want... – aright Aug 17 '09 at 15:17
Aren't $30 a lot cheaper than setting aside a couple of servers and investing the man power to come up with the same functionality? – innaM Aug 17 '09 at 16:17
You wouldn't need a couple of servers to virtualise, just one pc/laptop, which could be a shared one, plus virtualisation would allow for much more functionality than just getting a static shot, like testing a flash menu system for example. – Chopper3 Aug 17 '09 at 17:17

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