BromBone – Headless Browser As A Service

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A few weeks ago I wrote about PhantomJS, CasperJS and how those WebKit-based tools help with web app testing.

While running your own PhantomJS instance should work alright in most cases, installing, optimizing and maintaining yet another software package on all of your dev machines and continuous integration servers adds more friction to your development process.

Hence, I was wondering if there’s a hosted PhantomJS service. In fact, there is: BromBone – a ‘headless browser as a service’.

BromBone is an infrastructure-as-a-service offering that allows you to run PhantomJS scripts against your own hosted PhantomJS instance without having to worry about software installation and server administration. It has a simple HTTP API you can submit PhantomJS scripts to.

Chad DeShon, the creator of BromBone, mentions three main use cases for BromBone:

  • automated website testing
  • taking website screenshots
  • search engine optimization

The last aspect is particularly interesting. Many modern websites tend to be rather JavaScript-heavy, which is fine for a great user experience but can be detrimental to search engine indexing because search engines usually can’t index JavaScript very well. PhantomJS / BromBone allows you to render a web page just as it would be rendered in your browser and serve the HTML result to search engine bots.

Though it might seem a bit steep at a first glimpse, the pricing is alright for a hosted WebKit environment.

In my opinion, BromBone is a very useful service. It’s great to see there’s an ecosystem evolving around PhantomJS.

Besides, the ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ references in the service’s name and the plan names are a nice touch.

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