With the widespread acceptance of web standards, and the resulting deprecation of browser prefixes, there has been a noticeable change in the browser market. Where once browser manufacturers would try to lure users in with promises of feature support, now the focus is on privacy, speed, and developer tools.
When quality assurance testing, you probably work by market share: starting with Safari on mobile, Chrome on desktop, and working your way down to Opera and (if you’re a glutton for punishment) Yandax; naturally, when testing, it’s the largest number of users that concerns us the most.
But before you reach the QA stage, there are a number of browsers designed to assist development. Browsers that offer tools, especially for front-end developers, that assist with code and speed up development. Here are the best browsers for web development in 2021:
1. LT Browser
LT Browser is an app for web developers from LambdaTest. Like many of the apps in this class, it offers side-by-side comparisons of a site in different viewports. Additionally, LT Browser has a number of features that make it stand out.
As well as previewing web pages, LT Browser offers developer tools to rival Chrome, which is handy if you want to see how changes across different devices affect your Lighthouse scores. LT Browser also supports hot-reloading, which means when you make a change to your code, you don’t have to hit ‘refresh,’ the viewports simply reload — it’s surprising how much of a time-saver that simple addition is.
LT Browser requires a LambdaTest account, there is a free plan, and paid plans start at $15/month.
2. Firefox Developer
The best conventional browser for web development in 2021 is the developer edition of Mozilla’s Firefox.
Firefox Developer is free to download.
Polypane is one of the new generation of web browsers that are firmly intended as development aids rather than browsers. Polypane allows you to compare different viewports and platforms by placing them side by side. Interactions like scrolling are synced.
Polypane takes a step further than many browser apps in this class by showing social media previews. It even has a suite of accessibility tools, including some handy color blindness simulators.
Polypane has a 14-day free trial, and plans start at $8/month.
Blisk is another browser for developers that allows you to line up a collection of viewports in a single app. URL and scrolling are synced, making testing interactions and animations effortless.
Blisk is awesome fun to play with and delivers a great preview of a responsive design. But be warned, synced viewports can be addictive, and it’s easy to line up browsers and become hypnotized by the synchronized movement; you’ll need a very large screen to get the most out of Blisk.
Blisk plans start at $9.99/month.
Sizzy is another app that allows you to view multiple viewports at once. It also has synchronized interactions, and like many competing apps, Sizzy allows you to screenshot different views.
Sizzy also includes a very clever synchronized inspect tool, so you can focus on individual elements across different viewports. It’s an excellent option for debugging, particularly if you’re digging into someone else’s code.
Sizzy has a 14-day free trial, and paid plans start at $7.15/month.
Brave is a privacy-focused browser that runs up to three times faster than Chrome. If you’re someone who balks at rendering speeds on most sites, Brave could be for you.
Brave’s main benefit for developers is that it supports Chrome extensions while maintaining privacy — it can even access the Web using Tor if simple privacy mode isn’t enough for you. There are hundreds of useful Chrome extensions, and if you avoid Chrome due to privacy concerns, then Brave solves your problem.
Brave is also pioneering a new system for monetizing site revenue, allowing viewers to tip sites, and soon, to control how advertising revenue is distributed.
Brave is free to download.
Boring it may be, but Chrome is still the world’s most popular browser from the US to mainland China. Where once sites were “best viewed in IE,” Chrome is now the Web’s default.
No matter the site you’re designing, it has to work well in Chrome, and no simulator is as good as the real thing.
In addition to being the benchmark for page rendering, Chrome developer tools are the simplest way to access your Lighthouse scores, which helps you track down issues that may be holding you back in Google’s search results.
Chrome is free to download.