Parallels Desktop Pro Edition and Website Development Tasks

There are a number of features in the recently released Parallels Desktop Pro Edition that streamline the development and testing of websites and webpages. This short blog post examines several of these features in some detail.

Testing in Multiple Browsers

There are a lot of different browsers out there—some with multiple versions. NetMarketShare reports 11 different desktop browsers that have more than 2% market share, and that’s not including the browsers on tablets and phones. (See Figure 1.) Testing on all these browsers—or even a subset of them—can be a time-consuming task. And remember, some of these browsers can’t be installed side-by-side. There is no way, for example, to have IE 8 and IE 9 installed on the same copy of Windows.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Desktop browser market share in August 2015, according to NetMarketShare.

Enter Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition. With this utility, you can have IE 8 and IE 9 (and IE 10, IE 11, and Microsoft Edge) right on your development machine—and all running at the same time. You can even test in all of them simultaneously using your web development tool (Dreamweaver, WordPress, Microsoft Expression, etc.) to make changes to your site. Figure 2 shows the website on the same staging server displaying in these five different browsers.

Figure 2

Figure 2: IE 8, IE 9, IE 10, IE 11, and Microsoft Edge simultaneously accessing the same site on a staging server, using virtual machines and Parallels Desktop Pro Edition.

This is possible in Parallels Desktop Pro Edition because incompatible browsers are each running in separate installations of Windows in separate virtual machines (VM).

Want to test with IE 9, for example, but don’t have a copy of Windows with IE 9?  No problem. Through a joint effort of Microsoft and Parallels, VMs of many versions of Windows are available for free with essentially one button click. These VMs are Windows trials, but they last for 90 days. Figure 3 shows the IE 9 with Windows 7 VM ready to download from the Parallels Virtual Machine Wizard.

Figure 3

Figure 3: Ready to download a free VM with IE 9 with Windows 7. These 90-day trials of Windows were specifically designed for web developers to test their websites.

Stress Testing

How does your site behave when the server’s bandwidth is constrained or noisy? Or the client’s network is slow?

These questions are easy to answer due to the network conditioning feature of Parallels Desktop Pro Edition. You can easily throttle down the speed of the server or the client, as long as they are in a VM. You can even artificially introduce noise in the network by dropping a percentage of packets. Figure 4 shows the network conditioning dialog of Parallels Desktop Pro Edition. You can set these values separately for the server’s virtual machine or the client’s virtual machine.

Figure 4

Figure 4: Conditioning the network for an Ubuntu virtual machine running the Apache2 web server. Here the outbound network connection is constrained to 7 kbits/sec (down from the default the 1000 Mbits/sec), and 20% of the packets are dropped, simulating a very slow, very noisy network.

The conditioning of the network can be set or changed while the virtual machine is running, so it is easy to turn this on or off, or change the values at any time. See my blog post on Network Simulation for more details and a video of this feature in action.

Quick Server Testing

If your staging server is in a VM, there is a quick one-button-press to test it in the Mac’s default browser. Just pressing the “SSH” button in the Parallels Desktop Control Center will connect the Mac browser to the VM’s web server. (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5

Figure 5: The SSH button, shown for any running VM, will connect the Mac’s default browser to the web server of that VM.

Note: The SSH button works for Windows and Linux virtual machines, but not for Mac OS X VMs, which is why the SSH button is disabled for the OS X El Capitan VM.

Try out each of these features for web developers or testers by downloading your free trial of Parallels Desktop Pro Edition and the free trial VMs from Microsoft.


Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition