A web browser is the second most important tool after interactive development environment (IDE) for website developers. It’s simply indispensable for plenty of tasks, from searching the Web to debugging scripts. Unfortunately, not all browsers are equally useful. To make them more productive, web developers need a tool with analysis and debugging capabilities. In addition, websites are created for users who visit them via browsers. Consequently, using a browser is essential for any web developer.
In this short review, we will take a look at the most advanced web browsers that will help you pinpoint the best solution for developers. Be warned right away that our selection is a convention, not claiming a true hierarchy of browsers from best to worst. And don’t forget about such cross-browser compatibility.
Cross-browser compatibility can be defined as the ability of your web resource to adjust to multiple browsers at the same time, displaying correctly in them. Every front-end developer knows that a website layout that doesn’t “sprawl” is credible to users, and audience loyalty is an important indicator.
This used to be a huge problem in website development back in the days—here was a real browser war, and different technologies were used to win over users. However, recently, everything more or less comes to a common denominator, though cross-browser compatibility still matters.
In order for a site to display correctly everywhere, vendor prefixes are commonly used: “-webkit” for Chrome and Safari; “-moz” for Firefox; “-o” for Opera; “-ms” for Internet Explorer, etc. They help browsers to correctly perceive element functions and do not affect its display in other programs. Also, website builders make a special Coming Soon page that appears on the screen of users of unsupported browsers. It usually suggests upgrading to a newer version or opening a web resource in a different app to view it. You can test the cross-browser capability of a site via online testing services like Cross Browser Testing, Browserling, etc.
Which Browser to Choose?
So which browser is the best? It’s not that easy to give an unambiguous answer. Each app for Internet surfing is, in some way, similar to its counterparts. Of course, they all have their own pros and cons, which may vary depending on the requirements and preferences of the user.
However, we should not forget about people’s trivial tastes and the fact that a disadvantage for one may be an advantage for another. Therefore, in order to determine a really great browser, we should analyze the implementation of standard functions that are expected from the app, as well as support for current trends in technology development.
Below is a list of the most popular and most efficient browsers, which are well-received by many web developers.
Mozilla has been regularly delighting its users with new products. In addition to the usual browser, there are versions designed for people involved in the development and creation of new features in web browsers. One of such products is Firefox Developer Edition.
This browser version has more features, compared to the standard option, as well as higher performance and handy developer tools that will be useful for building an open-source.
In terms of performance, Mozilla Firefox Developer Edition shows impressive results, and therefore, the fastest possible page loads are guaranteed. In some tests, such as WebGL, Asm.js, the browser delivers the best performance among its counterparts. Not by a few points but as much as one and a half or even two times.
At the moment, it’s the most popular browser for website developers and geeks. At least it leads in many surveys among the developers themselves. And that’s quite justified since it’s a really powerful, albeit underrated web browser. By the way, Mozilla Firefox Developer Edition can display your resource’s CSS grid, which is quite rare if not unique.
Here are a few things that set this browser apart from its counterparts:
- Master CSS Grid;
- Built-in Web IDE;
- Independence from corporations that manipulate user data;
- Browser support on a variety of OS;
- Great page load speed;
- Increased performance;
- Ability to synchronize devices;
- Modern solutions for browser interface/personalization;
- Current list of add-ons and extensions;
- Detects inactive CSS on the page, etc.
Unlike other browsers, Firefox Developer Edition has a design tool called CSS grid. With its help, developers can distribute areas on the screen into separate blocks containing information, change their position and design.
Firefox Developer Edition is available for all known platforms. Achieving a faster program became possible after its engine was completely redesigned. The developers practically wrote new code from scratch. The new CSS engine is much faster and smarter than its predecessor, incorporating the best of other popular browsers. High performance provides an algorithm that distributes the load evenly on all cores of your computer. Thus, the speed can be increased by 2, 4, and, on some devices, up to 16 times.
There are just as many, and sometimes more, opportunities for development in Mozilla than in Chrome. At the same time, Mozilla is fully authentic and does not copy functions of Google’s product. Moreover, Firefox is more respectful of user data and does not collect information on the scale of Google Chrome.
Here are few more features you might want to know about:
- Built-in Shape Path Editor. Developers can use the editor to customize and resize shapes. It’s accessible through the CSS panel—to start editing an object, just click on it. At the moment, the editor can work with shapes created with clip-patch and shape-outside.
- Fonts Panel. The panel gives you quick access to the fonts used in the elements. It contains information such as font style and size, source, and more. The built-in editor can be used to change font values at any time.
- Storage. Web pages use different types of storage. It’s not really cloud storage. Firefox Developer Edition has a built-in panel that allows you to check the cache, cookies, session data, and more. Right now the storage panel only provides memory reads, however, Mozilla promises to expand the capabilities of this tool in the near future.
- Network Monitor. The tool called Network Monitor shows the user all the requests that are performed through the browser, with detailed information about each of them. Reports can be generated in the form of lists, graphs, and charts.
- Web Audio Editor. The experimental Web Audio Editor tool explores the audio context on pages and displays information about it via graphs. At this time, the editor is still under development and may have bugs that you can report.
These are not all of the features, of course, but we have a few other browsers to discuss. As for Firefox, you should know that even if you don’t have the proper experience and are just learning how to develop software, Mozilla has made sure that your learning curve is as easy as possible. The company’s website has the Toolbox section with detailed descriptions of how to work with each of the browser’s features. In fact, Mozilla Developer Network contains a huge amount of useful information for developers. Materials are published by professionals who are involved in creating new programs.
Mozilla Firefox Developer Editions is available for iOS/Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Polypane offers the perfect balance between a classic user browser and a developer-oriented masterpiece. However, many would say that this unique browser is designed primarily for website developers. This means that it’s virtually stuffed with features that are useful for website creators:
- Ability to model a website with multiple windows for different screens, from mobile to 5K monitors;
- 80 site accessibility tests to make it enjoyable for everyone;
- Support for most popular CMS;
- Support for popular frameworks extensions, e.g. React, Angular, Vue, Svelte, and many others.
Polypane is a browser built from scratch for creating websites and apps. It’s the only browser that allows you to develop a website for all viewports and devices at once, providing a better overview of them. You can use it in your everyday life as well, however, that way you won’t be able to understand all of its powerful development functionality.
Interact with one panel—and all other panels will automatically follow your actions. Scrolling, clicking, and hovering are automatically distributed among the panels. You can easily ensure that your site works as intended in all browsing windows. A single click is all it takes to make a screenshot with a full view of your site (at all screen sizes) and share it with anyone you want. Layout debugging, CSS stress testing, and dev tools based on Chromium—Polypane has everything you need to build advanced websites and custom mobile apps
Polypane pays special attention to making the resource affordable, therefore, it comes with a free trial period. If you want to continue using the advanced features in the long run, however, you will have to pay.
Polypane is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Sizzy is a browser with great functionality, focused on speeding up the development workflow. Its developers promised to make this process more productive, and it seems like they did a great job. The list of features offered by Sizzy is quite long, but some of them deserve special attention:
- Everything is in sync. Simulation and the ability to take a screenshot of a web page on multiple devices simultaneously;
- Element analysis on all devices with Universal Inspect Element;
- Website speed tests under different conditions;
- Spotlight function to operate the website using the keyboard;
- Session Manager for switching between users.
If you’ve been looking for a feature-rich browser with tools no other browser has, Sizzy is your perfect solution. It’s built for developers and used by employees at Philips, GoDaddy, Comcast, Basecamp, Zapier, and others. However, the browser is only available on a monthly/annual paid subscription with a two-week free period.
Sizzy is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux.
Compared to Opera, Chrome, and Firefox, Blisk doesn’t get as much attention on the Internet. Nevertheless, it’s worth considering if you are a beginner. The browser was specifically designed by Ukrainian developers to give web designers their first workspace where they can develop and test modern apps as quickly as possible.
Blisk has all the features that can help you create a true web masterpiece. Here are just a few of them:
- Displays mobile and desktop site version side by side and at once;
- Shows how your resource will look on any smartphone;
- Developer tools are similar to Chrome;
- Built-in page inspector lets you check any element on the screen.
Blisk is the only developer-focused web browser that gives you access to all the features you need to create a sensational online experience. You can see how your site or app will look on almost any phone, from Google Pixel to iPhone. What’s more, there are options for viewing in landscape or portrait mode.
Blisk also shows mobile and desktop designs side by side so you can compare the experience users get when they visit a website, no matter what device they use. Other features include:
- Modern URL and scroll sync. Blisk automatically syncs scroll positions and URLs for desktops and phones;
- Automatic updates. Whenever you save code changes while in the browser, Blisk will update your tabs and update your CSS changes;
- DevTools. Blisk comes with DevTools similar to Chrome—you can run separate DevTools for mobile and desktop and use them to check performance simultaneously;
- Page inspector. Blisk provides page inspector tools that allow you to quickly check any item on your mobile device or desktop.
Brave is one of the most “stuffed” web browsers in our review, and it offers a bunch of flexible out-of-the-box tools for network camouflage and staying incognito online. The browser blocks trackers and web counters, removes obtrusive banner ads, eliminates ubiquitous monitoring systems and other data that might identify the user.
All of that is just the tip of the iceberg in Brave. The main feature of this browser is the built-in Onion Router (TOR) client, which allows you to use online services while securely “hiding” behind a distributed network of routers. They ensure that user information is transmitted in such a way that it’s impossible to tell at any point where the encrypted data is coming from or going to.
In iOS, you can even enable “Private Browsing Only” mode with Face ID or Touch ID, unlocking and the automatic deletion of all trackers, cookies, and history when you leave.
Brave will never collect, store, or sell any of your personal data, as your data is considered your personal property, as stated in Brave’s terms of service.
Additionally, the IPFS companion allows you to upload content through the InterPlanetary file system, which is a peer-to-peer transfer protocol designed for more decentralized uploads of large files.
If that’s not enough, Brave offers full support for Google Chrome extensions, which make it easy to set up a VPN connection and, thereby, build an additional echelon of protection against “eavesdropping” of traffic by unauthorized parties.
Here are some of Brave’s strengths:
- Runs about 3x faster than Chrome, and is optimized to increase battery life and minimize memory consumption;
- Comes with a built-in ad blocker and all the user safety features you need;
- Reduced traffic consumption due to the absence of ads (relevant for mobile devices);
- Easily syncs with your Android or iPhone;
- Availability of IPFS integration for web browsing without intermediaries;
- No personal data collecting;
- Ability to visit blocked sites (TOR);
- Ability to earn cryptocurrency for viewing ads;
- Blocking browser mining and hidden app installations.
The Brave Rewards feature is also worth mentioning—it gives you the opportunity to earn BAT (Basic Attention Token). Brave is a great everyday browser, which is not only fast and safe but also free.
Brave is available for Windows 64-bit, Windows 32-bit, macOS Intel, macOS ARM64, and Linux.
We simply couldn’t skip the world’s most popular browser. According to StatCounter https://gs.statcounter.com/, Google Chrome has more than 60% of users. Therefore, a web developer simply has to test code in it before sending it to production. Let’s list the obvious benefits of the #1 web browser in the world:
- One of the best browsers in terms of feature compatibility;
- High popularity, huge user community;
- Integration with the Google ecosystem;
- Industry standard with a huge number of extensions;
- Excellent DevTools.
Of course, we are more interested in the Developer Edition, which has a special toolkit and an advanced console that allows you to edit code and activate hidden options. Chrome Developer Edition also has special plugins for development:
- Octotree simplifies GitHub https://github.com/ by offering easy navigation and support for private repositories;
- The Web Developer extension adds a toolbar button with various web developer tools;
- PerfectPixel by WellDoneCode—with this extension, you can overlay other images on the page with a translucent layer for precise element alignment;
- The Usersnap Chrome extension lets you capture and annotate any web page directly in your browser;
- Code Cola shows the source code of the page, allowing you to edit the CSS by dragging and dropping the slider—the finished code can be copied and pasted into the editor.
You can use the DevTools mode to modify the page once it loads, run Google Chrome console commands to monitor and control the page, as well as speed and network tests to monitor web traffic.
You can also emulate other devices, including different OS and screen resolutions. This allows you to see if the site has an adaptive web design and where content and site layouts will change based on resolution or device type.
While these tools are intended for professional web developers or QAs, regular Chrome users are also comfortable with the DevTools package. If you find a problem with a site that you can’t solve, switching to web developer tools can help you determine if the problem is related to the site or browser.
The easiest way to open Google Chrome DevTools is from the Google Chrome menu. To do this, click the three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner. In the menu that appears, select More tools > Developer Tools.
All comparisons between the browsers listed in this review are rather tentative and relative—there’s simply no way to choose the best one. One thing is certain though—developers are trying to make front-end development easier and more comfortable for everyone, considering the needs of both professionals and ordinary users.
Any of the browsers above can be safely called “the best browser for web developers” because no one has canceled the competition yet. Developers add their own unique features that can help you develop your own web projects. They do this in order to find their loyal users and gain a due level of popularity.
That’s why almost every company has a special version of their browser for web developers, to make it comfortable and good for everyone, without overloading the product with tools that only a few people need.
To find your best browser, we recommend trying several products. Hands-on experience will allow you to evaluate the real difference between them, both in functionality and interface.