Compatibility Testing

Compatibility Testing

The world is rapidly evolving, with new technology emerging every year. With the advent of several devices, operating systems, and browsers, ensuring the seamless functioning of software seems daunting. Compatibility testing is the process that helps developers in ensuring that the software works on different devices, operating systems, browsers, and platforms without any issues. Therefore, testers perform compatibility testing during the early stages of quality assurance testing to validate software compatibility. This article delves into compatibility testing, its importance, benefits, methods, example, and performing compatibility testing.

What is Compatibility Testing?

Compatibility testing is a testing process that aims to ensure that the software functions as intended across various platforms and devices. This testing aims to verify that the software is compatible with numerous combinations of hardware and software configurations that the user's device may have. Having incompatibility issues can occur due to hardware specifications, different software versions, and operating systems.

These differences can lead to unexpected errors in the program while using. Compatibility testing aims to identify these issues early in the software development process, making the software testing life cycle less time-consuming.

Reasons for Compatibility Testing:

Nowadays, when software products are being developed in abundance, it is important for them to be perfect and effective to garner the attention of the users as well as the IT industry. Therefore, reasons for compatibility testing are numerous and without implementing it during software testing life cycle it is difficult to guarantee the compatibility as well as the performance and functionality of the software. Therefore, following are some of the reasons for performing compatibility testing:

  • The main reason for compatibility testing is to ensure that the software is able to work without any issues on all devices and platforms.
  • It ensures that the software product meets the specified requirements accurately.
  • Helps improve the quality of the product.
  • Offer remarkable user experience and helps increase opportunities for the organization.

Benefits of Compatibility Testing

Compatibility testing is performed on the software to leverage the following benefits:

  1. High-Quality User Experience: Performing compatibility testing ensures the software works as anticipated across various devices and platforms. Doing so helps in offering a high-quality experience and reducing errors and crashes.
  2. Reduction in Development Cost: Identifying compatibility issues early in the development stages avoids the need to fix them in later stages or after the software is released, which can be expensive. Fixing these issues in the early stage can not only reduce development costs but can also save time and resources.
  3. Increase in User Base: Compatibility testing ensures the software runs smoothly on various platforms and devices. It can increase the user base as the software will become accessible to a broader audience.
  4. Improved Brand Reputation: Offering high-quality software to users can enhance your organisation's reputation. Moreover, it will lead to a higher customer satisfaction ratio, and satisfied users are more likely to recommend your software to their contacts.

Types of Compatibility Testing:

To ensure the compatibility of the built software with various versions and platforms, the team of testers uses two types of compatibility testing; backward and forward.

  1. Backward Compatibility Testing: Some users prefer to use their old devices rather than update whenever a new device is released. Backward compatibility testing is performed on software to ensure that all such users can use the software on their older devices.Also called downward compatibility testing, the older version of the software is tested to ensure its optimum performance with the latest software.
  2. Forward Compatibility Testing: In forward compatibility testing, the compatibility and behavior of the created software are compared with the new version of the software. As the behavior of the newer software versions is unknown, performing this testing can be daunting.

Specific Categories Part of Compatibility Testing:

Compatibility testing types include several categories that can be performed per the software requirements.

  • Hardware Compatibility Testing: Hardware compatibility testing validates the compatibility of the software with various other hardware configurations and ensures that the software is compatible with various hardware models.
  • Operating System Compatibility Testing: The software is tested with various operating systems such as macOS, Linux, and Windows for computers and Android and iOS for mobile.
  • Software Compatibility Testing: This testing is performed to verify the compatibility of the software with other programs. This testing ensures that using this software works with various software seamlessly without any issues.
  • Network Compatibility Testing: Network compatibility testing evaluates the software to identify whether it can operate efficiently in various network environments, including LAN and WAN. Moreover, this testing also helps determine the software’s performance under varying network configurations and bandwidths.
  • Browser Compatibility Testing: As people use different browsers on their devices, browser compatibility testing ensures that the app can function on leading web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Check our Cross Browser Checklist here.
  • Devices Compatibility Testing: Some software must work with additional devices such as USB port devices, scanners, and Bluetooth. Device compatibility testing tests the software’s functionality with all these devices to determine its compatibility.
  • Mobile Compatibility Testing: With the increasing number of smartphone users, ensuring that the software is functional on mobile devices is crucial. This testing ensures that the software is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
  • Software Version Testing: A new version of an operating system is occasionally released to introduce new features. Software version testing ensures that the software is compatible with different versions of the operating systems. For instance, the software can be tested on Windows 7, Windows 10, and Windows 11.
  • Software Dependencies: Identify and assess the compatibility of any software dependencies or libraries required by the application. Verify that the application functions seamlessly with the specific versions of the dependencies.
  • Integration Compatibility: If the software/application integrates with other systems or third-party services, scrutinize the compatibility of these integrations. Ensure that data exchange, API calls, or any other interactions with external systems perform as anticipated.
  • Localization Compatibility: Evaluate the software/application in diverse languages and locales. Verify that all text and content are exhibited accurately, unaffected by language or cultural disparities.
  • Security Compatibility: Appraise the compatibility of security features, such as encryption protocols, authentication methods, and access controls. Verify that the software/application operates seamlessly with the security tools or systems.
  • Performance Compatibility: Test the software/application's performance on various environments and configurations. Ensure it complies with the required performance standards and experiences no bottlenecks or performance degradation on specific platforms.
  • Usability Compatibility: Assess the user experience and interface consistency across different platforms and devices. Verify that the software/application adheres to each platform's usability guidelines and standards.
  • Regression Testing: Conduct regression testing to guarantee that any alterations or updates do not introduce compatibility issues with previously compatible environments.

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Signs that Your Software Needs Compatibility Testing:

Numerous signs will tell you when your software needs compatibility testing, and those signs are:

  • Multi-Platform Support: If you plan to release your software for multiple platforms, you need to perform compatibility testing to ensure that it works seamlessly on all platforms.
  • Compatibility Complaints: Users will raise complaints if they face compatibility issues while using your software on their devices. If the number of complaints is high, you must perform this testing on your program.
  • A large Number of Users: Many users means your software will be used on various platforms and devices, including new and old ones. Compatibility testing will help ensure your software remains functional for all such users.
  • New Release: Performing compatibility testing becomes crucial when releasing a new update, as it can bring new bugs and compatibility issues.

How Compatibility Testing is Performed?

The compatibility testing is uncomplicated and can be done manually when the right steps are taken at the right time. Furthermore, using suitable tools make the process seamless. Even though the exact process may vary with the software requirements, the basic structure involves four stages that are elaborated on below:

Step 1: Designing and Configuring Test Cases-

The first step in the compatibility testing process is to create test cases. These test cases should be created by considering the target platforms like browsers, OS, and hardware. Furthermore, several test scenarios should be considered based on the user base that will help verify the software's compatibility with the specific platforms.

Step 2: Setting up the Test Environment-

In the next step, you must begin setting up the test environment based on the test cases created earlier. These test cases should imitate the user’s hardware and software configurations, such as OS, browser, and processor. This can be done by using real or virtual devices to attain accurate outcomes.

Step 3: Test Execution-

Once test cases are created, and the test environment is fully set up, it is time to execute the compatibility test. During the tests, you’ll identify several bugs and issues within the software. Record these issues and report them to the dedicated team to fix them. Moreover, you should perform the tests on various platforms and devices to attain precise results.

Step 4: Retesting-

The compatibility testing process culminates in retesting, where the identified and fixed errors are tested again to eradicate the issue. If the issue is not fixed entirely, it is again reported to the development team, and all the tests are performed until the issue is resolved.

Common Compatibility Testing Defects:

If done correctly, compatibility testing can help uncover several issues. Identifying and fixing these issues help in making the program more stable and user-friendly.

  • Issues in Text: Text issues such as poor content alignment, inconsistent font size, and uneven gaps between words can appear on different devices.
  • User Interface: The software's user interface may vary depending on the software and hardware configurations that can be identified through compatibility testing.
  • Functional Issues: Sometimes, a few features might not be available in a specific platform version. Compatibility testing helps identify these functional issues quickly.
  • Broken Visual Elements: Visual elements help attract new users. However, these elements may appear broken on different devices or browsers if compatibility testing is not performed.

Top Parameters to Test in a Software

Several parameters should be considered while performing compatibility testing in software testing, listed below.

  • Operating Systems: Test the software on various operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and macOS for desktop devices and Android and iOS for mobile devices.
  • Browser: Consider testing on various browsers such as Firefox, Safari, and Chrome to identify compatibility issues such as CSS or JavaScript.
  • Network: Testing the software under varying network conditions, such as high latency and low bandwidth, to identify its performance.
  • Devices: As the software will be used on various devices, it should be tested on all major devices, including smartphones, desktops, laptops, and tablets.
  • Integration: Users may want to integrate the software with third-party solutions. Testing it for integration issues with leading third-party solutions, APIs, and databases ensures they are compatible with the software.

Top Tools for Compatibility Testing

Using the right tools can make the compatibility testing process easier. With that in mind, here are the top available that the team of testers can utilize to validate the compatibility of the software.

  • BrowserStack: BrowserStack is one of the most popular compatibility testing tools. It is a cloud-based testing tool that can help test apps or websites on different browsers and operating systems. Moreover, it supports over two thousand device and browser configurations for optimum testing.
  • BitBar: Among the most powerful testing tools, BitBar comes with features such as automated testing, real-time testing, and seamless integration with leading third-party testing frameworks that can help in efficient compatibility testing.
  • Lambada Test: Lambada Test is a browser compatibility testing tool that helps identify whether your web app can function on desktop and mobile devices.
  • Browsera: Browsera is an automated cross-browser testing tool that can test web pages for scripting and layout issues on various browsers.
  • BrowserShots.
  • Virtual Desktop.
  • Secure Platform.
  • CrossBrowserTesting.
  • Spoon Browser Sandbox.
  • IE Tab.
  • Equafy.
  • Testing Bot.
  • BrowseEmAll
  • Adobe Browserlab.
  • GhostLab.
  • BrowserSeal.
  • Microsoft SuperPreview.
  • Simulator and Emulator.

Best Practices for Compatibility Testing

In addition to using the top testing tools, implementing the best testing practices also helps with compatibility testing. Considering that fact, the following are the best practices that you can use for compatibility testing:

  • Identify the Target Platforms and Requirements: Before you create test cases, it is best that you identify the target platforms, configurations, and devices that your program will support. Doing so will help you pick the right tools and allow you to make the right changes to the software.
  • Use Real-World Scenarios: Make sure to test the software using real-world scenarios, as it will help find common issues that may occur when the users use the software.
  • Test on Real Devices: Sometimes, testers prefer performing tests using simulators or virtual devices. Even though they may find some issues, relying solely on them is not recommended. Testing on real devices should also be in your pipeline to obtain accurate results.
  • Involve Stakeholders: Compatibility testing can be most effective when stakeholders such as QA testers, developers, and end-users are involved. Their unique perspective can help stabilise the software across different devices and platforms.


Compatibility testing is an important process in software development that helps ensure that the created software works as anticipated across different platforms, configurations, and devices. Performing configuration testing can help identify and address compatibility issues and offer a seamless experience to users. With the rising number of platforms and devices, compatibility testing has become an integral part of the software testing life cycle. Using the right tools along with the best practices can improve the quality of the software significantly. Checkout list of trusted compatibility testing service providers in USA here.

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