It's the end of an era for one major testing component at Adobe (News - Alert), as it revealed just yesterday its plans to shut down the BrowserLab desktop browser testing service. It announced these plans and then shut down the system all within one day, referring users to BrowserStack and Sauce Labs, but what was behind Adobe's sudden move to shut down the desktop platform testing ground? Reports indicate that, to misquote the song, mobile devices killed the BrowserLab star.
BrowserLab, in its tenure, was said to be both very useful and well-liked, so it came as a shock on more than a few fronts that it was killed outright. BrowserLab's main stock in trade was cross-browser testing by creating screenshots of single websites as they would look on various browsers, thus allowing developers to spot if there would be a problem, say, translating a site to Opera. For those developers who wanted to cast the widest possible net over Web users, BrowserLab was a very welcome tool to have in the toolkit.
But Adobe reportedly also offered up some commentary on why BrowserLab just wasn't all that useful any more thanks to the rise of mobile devices. Adobe saw a drop in use of BrowserLab going back as far as the last year, and Adobe's engineering team turned to a set of new solutions in order to address the challenge of testing for mobile.
This commentary, however, left some distressingly unanswered questions in its wake, like why all those Adobe engineers didn't just add mobile functionality to BrowserLab. After all, it's clear that mobile devices will be popular for some time to come, but that doesn't mean that desktop development will cease. After all, there was a decline in use, not a complete loss, at last report. Additionally, why the rush to judgment? Why did Adobe shut down BrowserLab the same day it brought up the plan to do so in the first place?
Sauce Labs – one of the recommended companies – is taking the opportunity to make hay while the sun shines, and is offering BrowserLab users a special offer for the next 30 days only. The offer features 10 hours of free manual testing time with no expiration date for as many as two different open browsers, and when those minutes get burned through, the account turns into a free account, where there's 30 minutes a month for manual browser testing at no charge.
Adobe even goes so far to recommend the Edge Inspect tool it offers to help debug Web pages to be shown on mobile devices, but some believe that that's a bit of a letdown when matched against BrowserLab's full range of capability.
Leaving aside the suddenness of it all, however, it's clear that Adobe had to step up its offerings. Indeed, desktop creation will be likely down somewhat for the foreseeable future as more users get into mobile devices. But the desktop computer – or its close cousin the laptop – likely won't be completely out of service for some time to come, and will therefore require new development. Clearly, though, the mobile device market will be the growth market, and there aren't many developers who will want out of that field. Adobe seems to be just reacting accordingly.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo