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As a Web designer one of the toughest things to learn is that your design is always at the mercy of the user's browsers. Your site's visitors have a lot of browsers to choose from, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Google's Chrome, and now a wealth of mobile devices and tablets. Knowing that so many different browsers will render your pages, it's always a smart idea to test them in as many browsers as you can. This can prevent rendering errors from one browser to the next and help you ensure a consistent experience for all visitors to your site.
Dreamweaver allows you to set up multiple browsers for testing and also gives you an internal testing environment using its Live View. So I have the index.htm page open here, and this is from 02_07 folder. And the first thing I want to show you is just sort of this internal view. Right now I am looking at the page in Dreamweaver's Design View and you can see the layout looks, well, terrible. Well, that's actually just because the Design View uses a really old rendering engine that really doesn't support a lot of modern CSS.
So if I click the Live View, that's going to render it using Dreamweaver's WebKit rendering engine. Now, I am going to collapse the Properties Inspector here, so you can see this page a little bit better. If you are wondering maybe kind of what browser the Live View most closely resembles, well, it's WebKit, so it's going to be closer to Chrome or Safari, and in fact, it uses the WebKit build that's very close to Safari 4.0. I'm not sure if the rendering engine inside Dreamweaver has been updated for CS6, but it wouldn't surprise me if it now more closely resembles Safari 5.0.
But I know that it's at least 4.0 in Safari and maybe a little bit higher than that. This isn't the only place obviously to preview our pages. And if it was, it would be a bit of a problem, although this is kind of a nice environment, because it does show you the fully rendered page and it also shows you things like transitions, hover events. You'll see as I hover over the menu here I get to see kind of a hover I have placed on these items, so it's aptly named, Live Preview. But there's just no substitute for viewing the page in the browser itself, which is the ultimate rendering environment if you look at it that way.
So the first thing I am going to do is go up to my Preferences. Now, on the PC I am going to go up to Edit and choose Preferences. On the Mac you are going to go to the Dreamweaver option on the menu andchoose Preferences. And then from our Category over here on the left-hand side, I want to select Preview in Browser, which is down towards the end. Now, you are probably going to see a slightly different list than I see here. If you're on a Mac, for example, you probably see Safari, or maybe you just see one browser, or maybe you see multiples. Dreamweaver does a nice job of sort of scanning things and loading browsers by default, but it's always going to miss a couple or there might be times where you download a new version or a new browser and you want to add that to the Preview process as well.
Very simple to do, all I have to do is click the Plus (+) symbol right here and I can browse out and find which browser I am looking for. Now, in this case I am going to add Opera, so I am going to Browse for the application. It's going to take me directly into my Program Files, I am going to scroll down. On the Mac it will take you into your Applications, I am going to open up Opera, find the opera browser Executable File itself and Open that. So it's going to point to that page. Now, I have the option here of making this my Primary and/or Secondary browser. It's probably neither of those, so I am going to go ahead and click OK, and you can see that I have Chrome as my Secondary browser and Firefox as my Primary.
Now, how do I know that? Well, it's the keyboard shortcut that's beside them. Notice, Firefox has a checkbox for Primary browser. Meaning if I select the F12 key, it's going to automatically preview the page that I have within Firefox. Chrome is Ctrl+F12, meaning if I hit Ctrl+F12, I am going to preview that in Chrome. That's really all that Primary and Secondary browser really refers to, that's it. Now, with my list being complete I am going to go ahead and click OK. And now, anytime I want to preview my page, I can do just that. I can hit F12 if I want, that's going to preview my page inside Firefox, and I can see, again, all of these elements are working within there.
I can really test my layout within the browser itself. Now, if I go back into Dreamweaver and I hit Ctrl+F12 or Cmd+F12 on the Mac, it's going to preview that in Chrome. Now, if you have different browsers set up to be your default browser or your Secondary browser, you are obviously going to launch this in something other than Firefox or Chrome. Now, I am not limited to those keyboard shortcuts. If I go back into Dreamweaver and I look on the Document Toolbar, I can see there is this little Planet icon here, and you'll notice that it says Preview/Debug in browser. So if I grab that pull-down menu, there are all the browsers that I recently loaded in, in addition to Adobe's BrowserLab.
Now, I am going to talk about BrowserLab in just a moment, but I am going to use this as an opportunity to preview in one of my browsers that's not my Primary or Secondary browser, perhaps Internet Explorer. So I am going to launch that, it will launch the page in Internet Explorer and I can see it rendered in IE as well. So I can see some slight differences. For example, Internet Explorer doesn't support the transitions, the animatable transitions that the other browsers do. So I can see that there is a slight behavior difference, but other than that the layout looks fairly similar. One thing I've noticed throughout this entire previewing is that this paragraph is sort of up a little bit, I can see that it's actually sort of layering over top of the menu.
So that tells me it's consistent across all browsers, so that tells me that it's not necessarily a specific issue to one browser, rather it's a problem with my CSS that I need to fix. And that's the whole point of previewing in browsers. You get to find these little errors and you can see whether they are present in one browser versus another. If they are present across all browsers, you know it's a general problem with your CSS. If it's only a problem in a single browser, it's probably either a bug with that browser or some type of rendering that, that browser does based on standards that the other ones don't and you can track it down that way as well.
So it's a nice way to track down issues and make sure that you get a consistent experience across your browsers. Now, I am going to close Internet Explorer and I want to go back into Dreamweaver. I want to talk about a third option of previewing pages in Dreamweaver, and that option is BrowserLab. You saw BrowserLab available earlier in the Preview in Browser menu right here; it's at the very bottom. But BrowserLab also has its own panel, so I am going to open that up. Now, I'm already previewing a page in BrowserLab, so I can see that I'm connected to the external BrowserLab server. If you're opening up this panel for the first time, you are probably going to see a disconnected icon there and it's going to you ask you whether you want to preview or not.
So you just click the Preview button and it will launch you out to Adobe BrowserLab, which is an external online service from Adobe. Now, what does BrowserLab do? Well, let me hit the Preview button and take you over to BrowserLab and show you. Okay. So here I am in BrowserLab. Now, I skipped a couple of steps here for you. The first time you show up in BrowserLab, it's going to ask you for an Adobe ID. If you already have one, you can enter that in and you can start using the service. If you don't have an Adobe ID, it's going to give you the option of creating one and you can go ahead and create one and sign up for the service. Now, for the moment BrowserLab is free. Eventually it's going to become, I think, a pay service.
But then again, they've been saying that for a while now, it's still more or less free. So if it's not free by the time you watch this, don't blame me, it's not my fault, Adobe had plans for that all along. Now, the thing I love about BrowserLab; What does this do for me? Well, you can see that I am previewing pages on a PC, so I don't have access to certain browsers. For example, I don't have access to any of the browsers on the Mac like Safari, so I want to test it on Safari and make sure that it's working. So when I launch BrowserLab, one of the things that I can do is I can go in my Browser Sets and I can turn certain browsers on and off. You'll notice, for example, that for this particular test I just told BrowserLab to Preview in Firefox 7.0 on the Mac, Internet Explorer 6.0 for Windows, because hey, who doesn't want to see that, and Safari 5.1 for OS X. So it gives me a nice preview of those particular browsers, and I can add different Browser Sets and sort of group them together and I can have different testing platforms set up, so that when I come into BrowserLab, I can just hit that particular platform and it will test it.
So what it's going to do is it will upload your page, which will take a little bit of time, it will go ahead and render it out and it will give you a screenshot of the page in that browser. I am going to go back to my test and you can see that. So right now I am looking at it in Safari 5.1. I get a nice little screenshot. I don't get to test the functionality, because it's a static screenshot, but I do get to check the layout, I can see if the colors are working. I can see if I have layout issues, and yes, once again, that paragraph is overlaying that. So that's definitely a problem I need to fix. And then if I grab the pull-down menu, I can come down to Firefox, check that out on OS X, and I can see that that's a problem.
And then finally, I can test this in Internet Explorer 6.0, oh well, so some issues in Internet Explorer 6.0. Show of hands, how many people were expecting that? Now, you know it is what it is. But at least you could still read the content and sometimes with Internet Explorer 6.0 that makes me happy enough. So that's Adobe BrowserLab, it's a neat service. I think you should at least check it out. It allows you to test on different platforms than the one you have and it allows you to test against multiple browsers. So it's a pretty nice little option. Whether you use a service like BrowserLab or not, you should make sure that you spend plenty of time reviewing your pages as you are working on them, in as many browsers as you can.
It's going to help you prevent small errors from becoming bigger problems later on, and it's going to assist you in ensuring a consistent experience for all of your users.
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