Litmus Alkaline review

It’s ironic that Macs remain the platform of choice for the design industry at a time when the world’s most popular web browser has ceased development on OS X. Microsoft Internet Explorer enjoys around an 80 per cent share of the browser pie. That’s a double pity when you consider that the one web browser most likely to break your carefully assembled, standards compliant website is Internet Explorer. It’s essential, therefore, that you test your sites in IE7 on Windows before launch.

With Litmus Alkaline, you don’t need access to a Windows PC to do this job. You just sign up for a trial account for partner service Litmus at www.litmusapp.com, download the dedicated Mac version and give it your URL. The system generates a report on your site and even furnishes you with screenshots so you can see how your layout looks on other browsers. The free version shows you your sites look on Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 7 for Windows. As these are the web’s major players we think that’s a pretty good deal for zero pence.

We wish we could say the same about the subscription service. Prices start at $49 (£33.63) per month for an individual subscription. This enables you to test your sites on 23 browsers, but there are open source, free alternatives that outdo this provision.

Browser Shots (www.browsershots.orgg) produces screenshots of sites in 53 different Windows browsers alone – with a similar collection of Linux and Mac browsers. As for code validation in Litmus, that’s handled by the W3C’s own testing suite, which is free to use anyway.

OUR VERDICT

The free version of Alkaline is a handy tool that connects to the Litmus browser testing service but – even though the subscription version includes email server testing too – the pricing model needs some serious consideration before we’d feel able to fully endorse the full service.

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