Software never stops evolving — new features, security measures, and best practices are constantly in development. Additionally, devices, browsers and platforms are in a constant state of change as users’ purchasing habits evolve and adapt, meaning you need a way to ensure your software provides the same functionality and user experience regardless of hardware, display, connection speed, or operating system. That’s why software and platform compatibility testing is an integral step on the path from development to release — and remains critical even after your application goes live.
What Does Cross-Platform Mean?
Cross-platform compatibility means that software should work or be compatible across platforms. While many software developers may strive to make their software platform agnostic, cross-platform compatibility is still an issue due to the sheer number of variables involved.
To be cross-platform compatible your software must work across multiple types of platforms or operating environments. Depending on your product, this could include both hardware and software, combined with versions or builds across multiple layers of infrastructural components. If your software can work in the same or similar way across multiple platforms, then it can be considered to be multi-platform, or cross-platform compatible.
It sounds like it’s just a permutation problem but each hardware device (including desktop and mobile platforms) and operating system can have small variations that are not explicit via any number of vendor-supplied or open-source end-user environments. For Android as an example, cross-platform operations include working with application programming interfaces to access different native or 3rd party functions, as well as any versions and licensing requirements.
Cross Browser Compatibility
Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Safari. Your software needs to work equally well across each, but browser compatibility goes deeper: Does your application perform similarly for users with different browser versions? What about those using different languages? While most apps are still designed to run in a Windows desktop environment, you can’t ignore other operating systems. What about Linux, Solaris, or MAC OS? And with more business users and consumers now opting for mobile devices, it’s not enough to simply re-skin desktop software as “mobile-friendly” — your applications need to work equally well on iOS, Android, Windows 10, and other mobile operating systems. With Internet Explorer being sunsetted in 2022 and Microsoft Edge replacing it, how long will you have to support Internet Explorer, and what versions? Can you really assume that all versions work the same, and that all users will update their versions automatically?
How Many Platforms Do You Need to Test?
When you multiply the platform components together, it’s easy to see how cross platform testing can easily get out of hand. Just with hardware devices, operating systems, application servers, browsers, databases, and software, it becomes an NxN multi-dimensional problem. What platform combinations can you eliminate right off the bat either because they are not realistic (users would never have that combination, i.e. new version of windows with older version of a browser) or incompatible (i.e. Windows with the latest version of Safari).
Using Pairwise Testing – A Combinatorial Approach to Platform Testing
It’s a perfect application of pairwise testing in order to narrow down which platforms should be tested and are the most risky while maximizing platform coverage. Check out this blog to find out more how pairwise testing can help you systematically eliminate platforms and increase your cross platform testing effectiveness.
Cross Platform Compatibility Testing
Cross Platform Compatibility testing measures how well pages display on different software and hardware platforms, including different browser versions, different operating systems and different machines. For example, cross browser compatibility testing addresses different implementations of HTML by the various browser manufacturers, operating system support, and machine platform display and rendering characteristics resulting from different layout engines. Platform compatibility testing, meanwhile, addresses the difference between operating systems such as Windows, Linux and MAC OS to ensure consistent and reliable performance.
While it’s possible to implement cross browsing testing tools and address the need for cross platform support in-house, the time and expertise necessary can bog down even well-staffed IT departments.
Platform Compatibility Matrix
Consider the matrix above, which demonstrates how complex the cross platform compatibility testing can be.
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Special Mobile Platform Compatibility Testing Considerations
You may notice in the Figure that UC is listed as a browser. This is a web browser developed by Alibaba usually used on Android. This brings up the topic of mobile platform compatibility issues. Especially with Android, there are multiple versions each dependent on the mobile device vendor, some installing their own default browser version along with other utilities and APIs on top of the normal Android services.
Another often forgotten consideration in platform compatibility testing is the actual product or product type you are testing. For example, for Game apps, the most popular languages are English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and German, based on the demographics and the degree of development of the game industry. Of course, this will be different for other types of products.
Also, you may notice Opera, Solaris, AIX, and HP-UX are listed in the category of the operating system. For Opera, its market share is relatively low, but it is still being used. For Solaris, even though it is no longer updated, some governments and medical institutions have developed some apps on Solaris and those apps are still being used. For AIX – IBM still plans to update it until 2030. On the other hand, HP-UX sunsets on 12/31/2025. Even then, there will still be many apps out in the existing installed base that depend on these operating systems.
The XBOSoft Advantage
Platform Compatibility Experts
At XBOSoft, we’re software testing experts — it’s what we do all day, every day. As a result, we’ve built a team of cross-platform compatibility testing experts — technology professionals who understand how to guide you through the platform compatibility maze, understanding what platforms, operating systems, and hardware devices you should test and what you shouldn’t depend on your particular software and demographic base.
Fully Equipped Labs
With a testing lab that’s been up and operational for 15 years, we’ve got the history and understanding of platforms from the beginning in order to effectively and efficiently assess your software’s functionality on multiple platforms with combinations of hardware devices, operating systems, application servers, databases, and browsers for both mobile and desktop demographic populations.
If you need help understanding the platform compatibility issues you’re facing and want the expertise of an independent third party to ensure compatibility on the platforms you need, while providing actionable solutions to address shortfalls, contact XBOSoft.
Discover how our compatibility testing services can empower both short-term software rollout and long-term application utility.