Making websites on the Mac is beautiful. The variety of tools available for you to take your webside from concept, design, coding, and publishing make the entire workflow something pleasant and fulfilling. Except for one thing. Internet Explorer. If I want to test my website in that horrid browser, I have to go to the PC and check out what it looks like. With Smoking Apples we didn’t even check for IE compatibility (we want it that way), but for most cases you have to swallow your pride and click the blue IE icon.
There are a few alternatives on the Mac. Using Crossover to run IE, or Parallels/Fusion to get Windows running on your Mac. Not very elegant, but they work. What if I told you about this new tool, that not only previews in IE, but does so for 24 different browsers all at once! In fact, more than 24, as Safari 4.0 that showed up in my test isn’t listed on the site. Previously only a web service, Litmus.com has just announced their mac client, Alkaline, which previews your website in every possible browser out there. For a price, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Alkaline for Mac
After signing up for a free Litmus.com account, you can go ahead and enter your credentials in the Mac app. After that, you simply enter your website URL in the given field. The preview is generated on the Litmus servers, and then pushed to your client.
The client works very similar to how it does on their web client, actually, a little too similar. The site preview itself is not downloaded automatically to your client, but it pulls it down after your click on the thumbnail preview. This tends to be a little slow, but once a preview is loaded it stays there for the current session.
The Mac client also comes with addons that plug into Coda and TextMate. You can preview these websites right inside Coda 1.6’s preview window (I haven’t tested this though).
Overall the Mac client is well done, although it does get a little laggy at times. It’s still a first version, so I gather things will improve.
About the Litmus Service
This is one of the most full featured services I have seen on the web. They will store your results on the server, into different versions for each site. So if you want to check how your progress goes, you can tap into different versions and see how things have evolved. You can even switch version on the desktop client. On the site, you get compatibility reports, HTML errors, CSS errors, etc.
Litmus also does email testing, so you know what your HTML newsletter will look like on clients like Outlook and Gmail (and many others of course).
Pricing and Drum Roll
While the website advertises that with the free account you get FF 2.0 and IE 7.0 testing only, the Alkaline client also offered to preview IE 6 (yay!), FF 3.0, Safari 3.1 (Mac), and IE 8.0 Beta 2. A full days pass costs $24, which includes unlimited testing, just as the months pass of $49. They currently have a free-weekend policy (unlimited testing!) going on, but that will soon end I suppose.
If you’re a web developer wanting to test out your website in a different browsers without worrying about the specifics, I can’t recommend Alkaline enough. The ease of use, the accurate previews, and the quick service is worth the price (subjective). Even if you don’t want to pay the price, the free account lets you preview the most important ones.
The All new Kindle 2. Better display, battery life, storage, and it doesn’t look embarrasing anymore!