Are You Ready for IE9 and Firefox 4?

I always hold my breath when I install a new web browser, as I never know what might break. New browsers are always a headache for my web development company, but even if you don’t develop sites yourself, I’m sure you have significant web presences.

Last week, Internet Explorer 9 (s msft) was released, and while Firefox 4 is due to be officially launched today, you can already download it from the Mozilla FTP site (UPDATED: it’s now launched, and you can download it from Mozilla). Luckily, so far, we haven’t seen any major issues with the new browsers, but there have been reports that some widely-used tools will need to be updated.

With that in mind, here is a short list of tests you’ll want to make when a new browser becomes available.

  • Test your website(s). Make sure layout and interactive functions operate correctly, including content management systems, contact and feedback forms, styles and links.
  • Test your collaboration tools. Web-based project management, screen sharing, conferencing and collaboration services should be updating themselves continuously, but you should check your intranet and any tools that have been built or are being hosted in-house.
  • Test add-ons and extensions you and your colleagues are using. When you upgrade Firefox, it will check your add-ons and update or disable any that aren’t compatible. But you should also check the add-on developer’s website to see if there are beta versions available. And some add-ons may no longer be needed. After the controversy regarding hacking tool Firesheep a few months ago, I started using a Firefox add-on called Force-TLS that connected me to websites using HTTPS when possible. Firefox 4 has the appropriate technology built in, so Force-TLS is no longer needed.
  • Test social media tools you are using. Especially check custom pages that you have created on sites like Facebook.

You’ll probably want to keep copies of old browser versions handy, since a lot of users don’t upgrade right away. This can be tricky, since some browsers, such as IE, don’t allow you to install two different versions on the same machine; virtual machines and browser testing services can be handy.

How do you test new browsers?