Testing browser compatibility can drive any Web developer postal, especially when it comes to Internet Explorer. While there are multiple ways to install different versions of a browser on one computer, it's a headache waiting to happen. Thankfully, there are several solutions to this problem today, and a service from Code Systems is one of the most seamless ones we've come across so far.

The Spoon Browser Sandbox offers 11 different Web browser builds, including IE 6, 7, and 8, Firefox 2, 3, and 3.5, Safari 3 and 4, Opera 9 and 10, as well as Google Chrome. All of these run securely and don't require installation.

To begin, visit spoon.net/browsers and click where it says Install Plugin. After executing the downloaded installer, you should be able to run any of the available browser sandboxes by selecting your browser of choice. Following the brief loading time (10 to 15 seconds), a new window with your selected browser should appear.

It's worth noting that your firewall may prompt you after launching a browser. Also, after you open a specific sandbox browser once, subsequent loading times should be drastically reduced. The sandbox browsers are seemingly fully functional, and they feel just as you might expect them to.

Other services and applications you might find useful include IETester and BrowserShots.

IETester is Web browser with the rendering and JavaScript engines of IE 5.5, 6, 7, and 8, and more importantly, it's compatible with Windows 7 or Vista. BrowserShots, as its name implies, takes a screenshot of a site in different browsers via distributed computers, and has nearly every version you might be interested in testing.

Previous Tech Tips