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How To Properly Configure Your Browser For Web Compatibility Forensics

Testing in an isolated environment

When testing a Web Compatibility issue, many things can interfere with your testing. The most neutral environment will help to identify the issue. For example, ads blockers, user stylesheets, etc will lead to sites malfunctionning or will create a false sense of a site working when it is not. Basically, we need to start the testing with an empty clean profile of a browser. As you do not want to have to restart your main browser all the time, you need to setup a different profile. So you have your normal browser and your webcompat browser side by side.

Choosing your Web compatibility testing browser

I will explain below my own configuration but you may adjust to your own specific needs. I'm running Aurora Firefox Developer Edition as my main browser.

List of browsers

Profile Manager and Webcompat profile

You will need to create an additional profile. Follow the steps on using the Firefox profile manager.

When the profile manager window opens, choose "Create Profileā€¦" and name it webcompat (or the name of your choice). Quit the profile manager. Now you can restart your normal browser (Developer Edition for me), the profile manager will automatically pop up a window, you will select default for example. Then click on your test browser (normal Firefox for me) and select this time webcompat profile.

Finishing the Webcompat profile

We said that we wanted a browser that each time we were starting it is clean of any interactions with other environments, be present or past.

Go to the Firefox Preferences and follow these steps:

  1. General: When Firefox starts: Select Show a blank page
  2. Privacy: History Select Use custom settings for history and configure like this screenshot below: Configuration Panel
  3. Clear history when Firefox closes and choose the "Settingsā€¦" and select all the options. Configuration Panel

The only add-on I have installed is User Agent Switcher for testing by faking the User Agent string of mobile devices or other browsers on Firefox.

Restart your test browser one more time. You are now in a clean profile mode. Each time you want to test something new or you are afraid that your previous actions have created interferences, just restart the browser. You will also notice how fast the browser is without all the accumulated history.

Enjoy testing and analyze Web Compatibility bugs