Private Browsing Not Just For Keeping Secrets
One part of testing web application involves frequently logging in and out to change logged in user types. For example, lets say you own a web site where you want your users to post ideas for t-shirt slogans. You would need to test both the user perspective (submitting the idea) and the admin perspective (moderating the idea). However logging in an out, in modern web applications, can be a bit of a pain. This is even more true when your bouncing between a staging server, a production server, and a development server. To reduce this pain we look to a feature that was made popular by Google Chrome.
Incognito mode, is designed to give you a “private browsing experience.” Basically if you share your computer with other people it ensures that they can’t poke around in your browsing data. Several years ago we had to clear cookies, delete caches, and erase histories. Now you just use incognito mode, and all that data is limited to the time you have the window open. You can see a short video explaining this below.
This also has a very interesting side effect for website testing. Because your data is lost when you close the window you are logged out. Also because your current data is not used in incognito mode, your current logins are not moved not in place. Best use an example.
Here we can see that I am logged into my twitter account. Everything is normal and fine. If I launch incognito mode, I get get a totally new window, that contains none of my session data. Below you can see this result, zoomed out of course.
Notice the little guy in the top left, and the fact that it appears that I am totally logged out of twitter.
Not only does this let you easily log in as another user, but when you close the incognito window, your original data is left unharmed. This means you can quickly test logging in as several users, without having to install several browsers, or clearing you cookies each time.
Chrome and Safari (maybe other web-kit based browsers too) have this mode. You can learn how to start using incognito mode by reading this article. I have not personally tried all of them. Chrome, and safari work the best in my opinion (and chrome’s is a tiny bit easier to use).
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