01 Aug 2012

Chrome Usage Overtakes Internet Explorer


chromeMarch 2012 marked the first time a browser other than Internet Explorer sits atop the rankings and could call itself the king of the browsers (at least according to the data provided by StatCounter). Chrome has slowly been cannibalising users of Internet Explorer and Firefox (as well as the other popular browsers no doubt) and its steady growth now puts it ahead by the smallest of margins.

While the data might not be 100% accurate due to the possibility of people masking what browser they are using with user agent tampering or other similar methods it can safely be assumed that the pattern being observed is probably correct. It might have only have claimed this title for one day but this pattern clearly shows that Chrome is continuing to grow in popularity and will no doubt be sitting atop the browser throne full time soon.

At this point people would usually start discussing what this means from a design or development perspective but being a tester I’m going to jump in from that angle. Chrome was the first browser to really use the idea of forcing continuous updates upon the user dubbed the ‘Infinite Version’ by Jeff Atwood over on his Coding Horror blog. This continuous update idea has since been picked up by Firefox and will be included in the next version of Internet Explorer due out with Windows 8, so it has clearly proved popular.

As far as testing is concerned a new version means rerunning your tests. Given the frequency of these browser updates rerunning tests with each update is simply not an option if you are trying to get work done in a timely and efficient manner; with complex applications all you would need an entire test team dedicated solely to regression. This never really used to be a problem because major browser updates were a big deal (i.e. Firefox 4 got a lot of tech news coverage) but now the more covert and discrete approach to updates means things might get missed.

The Solution?

While I’m not usually an advocate for Automation given my own skill set I can still tell where its strengths lie and this is certainly one of those areas. With new versions of web browsers being released daily a rigorous suite of automated regression tests would certainly give you piece of mind that Google, Mozilla or Microsoft have not changed anything at their end which will affect your own work. Perhaps this is why so many emerging software testing roles are keen to ask for Automation experience from their potential recruits.

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