Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: Rajesh Lain, Sebastian Kruk, RealWire News Distribution, Harald Zeitlhofer

Related Topics: AJAX & REA, Java, XML, SOA & WOA, .NET, Web 2.0

AJAX & REA: Article

Analyzing Webpage Performance with AJAX Edition 4

What makes older versions of IE so slow as compared to newer versions of Firefox?

It's been a while since we released the last major version of Compuware dynaTrace AJAX Edition. With AJAX Edition 4 we introduce the capability to test across all versions of Internet Explorer (IE) starting with IE6 and all versions of Firefox starting with 3.6.

Why is this important? Well, check out the test results of several pages we tested on IE6, 7 and 8 and contrast them with tests of the same pages using Firefox 16 and 18. A product page on Zappos.com loads in 1.3 seconds in Firefox 18 as compared to 5.6 seconds in IE6. That is four times slower on IE's rather ancient browser. Despite a concerted effort by the industry to get people to use updated browsers (including this one by Microsoft), we're still seeing a big mix in the browser versions people use to access websites. That means it's important to analyze webpage performance across browser versions to ensure your site functions and performs as it's supposed to.

In this article I want to show you how to do it and what the typical differences in performance are.

Step 1: Download Free Compuware dynaTrace AJAX Edition
Go to the AJAX Edition webpage and click on the download link. Run the Windows installer and launch it from your Start menu. You will be prompted to register a new APM Community account; use your existing account or continue with a five-day registration-free period. After five days the product remains free to use but you need to register an account. Registering a community account gives you full access to the discussion forum on the Compuware APM Community Portal where you can network with AJAX Edition peers and Compuware application performance experts to learn best practices, post questions and find troubleshooting tips.

Step 2: Capture Data Across Multiple Browsers
Now we are ready to start capturing performance data.

Click on "Click here to start tracing" and select either IE or Firefox. As you will be testing a web page you will be prompted for a name and a URL that you assign to that name, e.g., Zappos and zappos.com. Click "Run" and AJAX Edition will launch your browser and navigate right to that URL.

The AJAX Edition toolbar in IE and Firefox (here it's a status bar) indicates that the browser is connected to AJAX Edition and capturing all performance-relevant data while the browser is connected.

Walk through a use case on the page that you are testing, e.g., navigate through the menus, do a search, put items in your shopping cart or try out the social plugins. AJAX Edition will automatically capture all Network Roundtrips, JavaScript Executions, Rendering Activity and AJAX Requests for later performance analysis.

You may need to modify your browser's settings for this step to work properly. Check out our tips page for more information.

Step 3: Analyze High-level KPIs
I recorded several steps on zappos.com with different browsers. I used IE6, 7, 8 and Firefox 16 and 18. As I don't have all these browsers installed on my local machine I used different machines with AJAX Edition installed locally. After recording my sessions I exported the data into a dtas file and imported it all into my local AJAX Edition instance for analysis. This is also a typical use case in test departments where tests are done on different machines with different configurations. A performance expert receives these sessions for analysis and comparison.

All sessions are now available for analysis. Double-clicking a session opens the Performance Report showing high-level KPIs for each URL visited.

If you want to know the details about how these KPIs are calculated you can read up on them on our Best Practices on Web Performance Optimization community page.

When I checked zappos.com I saw a huge difference in page load time. Sure, I had expected this, but now I can quantify exactly what the difference is, and how different the experience of using the site is for people accessing it on different browsers. The majority of the time turned out to be spent in JavaScript, which took significantly longer on older browsers such as IE 6, IE 7 and Firefox 16.

Check out the following table that shows the key metrics across the different browsers for one of the product pages. The Fully Loaded time is the important metric to look for and the Client Time (Java Script Time) is the one metric with the biggest contribution to that Fully Loaded time:

IE 8 and Firefox 18 are about four times faster in Fully Loaded Time as compared to IE 6, which spends a large amount of time in JavaScript execution.

When looking at the Timeline View of the fastest (IE8) and the slowest (IE6) browsers, it is easy to spot where the differences are during page load:

The long-running JavaScript blocks in IE6 cause the majority of the page load difference compared to its "younger brother," IE 8

It shows how much performance impact JavaScript running on an older browser has on page load time. If supporting older browsers is still a priority for your business you'd better test and optimize for it.

Step 4: Deep-dive Analysis
The AJAX Edition doesn't just leave us with a nice timeline view but also allows us to drill into the JavaScript executions that take so long. Double-clicking on these long-running JavaScript blocks opens the JavaScript PurePath Dashlet that allows us to navigate through the exact JavaScript execution. The following screenshot shows the PurePath dashlet with the highlights on the long-running JavaScript methods. Seems like the problem is related to encoding and decoding long strings that are extraordinarily slow on IE6:

The decode and encode methods are the major contributors to the slow JavaScript execution. The AJAX Edition highlights these methods and also shows the actual source code responsible for it.

Besides going deep into JavaScript, AJAX Edition also provides deep insight into XHR (AJAX) Calls and how these calls impact page performance. Another unique aspect is analysis options for Rendering and Layout activities such as CSS Evaluations, Layouting and Drawing.

If you want to learn more about the deep-five diagnostics options I recommend, check out the online video tutorials on the specific views: AJAX Edition Tutorials.

Step 5: Compare Against Your Competition
Optimizing your site to work well on different browsers is great, but what if you are still much slower than your competition? AJAX Edition has built-in integration with Speed of the Web, which allows you to compare your KPIs against other websites in your industry. Once you have registered a community account and activated your copy of AJAX Edition you can select a category on the first tab in the Performance Report. Your KPIs will then be compared against the latest tests done by Speed of the Web.

On Speed of the Web you can select a category and see how your web performance optimization efforts compare to your competition.

Speed of the Web not only provides the KPIs of the top sites in different industries, it also allows you to test your own site using the same testing infrastructure as used to compute these values used in the comparison. Go to the SpeedoftheWeb.org and enter your URL. Not only will you get an online result of a tested URL you've entered, you will also get an AJAX Edition Session for download as Speed of the Web uses AJAX Edition to run these tests.

Step 6: Go Beyond Your Browser
Not all performance problems can be fixed by optimizing your JavaScript code, using sprites or enabling proper caching. You may also want to automate most of this testing instead of manually analyzing all this data for every build. If you are interested in how to automate performance analysis as well as getting insight into server-side performance problems, check out some of our other blogs such as Top Performance Problems from Zappos, Monster and Co as well as Next Generation Web Performance Optimization.

More Stories By Andreas Grabner

Andreas Grabner has more than a decade of experience as an architect and developer in the Java and .NET space. In his current role, Andi works as a Technology Strategist for Compuware and leads the Compuware APM Center of Excellence team. In his role he influences the Compuware APM product strategy and works closely with customers in implementing performance management solutions across the entire application lifecycle. He is a frequent speaker at technology conferences on performance and architecture-related topics, and regularly authors articles offering business and technology advice for Compuware’s About:Performance blog.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Latest Stories
With the explosion of the cloud, more businesses are transitioning to a recurring revenue model to generate reliable sales, grow profits, and open new markets. This opportunity requires businesses to get to market quickly with the pricing and packaging options customers want. In addition, you will want to take advantage of the ensuing tidal wave of data to more effectively upsell, cross-sell and manage your customers. All of this is possible, but only with the right approach. At 15th Cloud Expo, Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder at Aria Systems and the inventor of cloud billing panelists, will lead a panel discussion on what it takes to launch and manage a successful recurring revenue business. The panelists will offer their insights about what each department will need to consider, from financial management to line of business and IT. The panelists will also offer examples from their success in recurring revenue with companies such as Audi, Constant Contact, Experian, Pitney-Bowes, Teleko...
Planning scalable environments isn't terribly difficult, but it does require a change of perspective. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will broaden your views to think on an Internet scale by dissecting a video publishing application built with The SoftLayer Platform, Message Queuing, Object Storage, and Drupal. By examining a scalable modular application build that can handle unpredictable traffic, attendees will able to grow your development arsenal and pick up a few strategies to apply to your own projects.
Come learn about what you need to consider when moving your data to the cloud. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Skyla Loomis, a Program Director of Cloudant Development at Cloudant, will discuss the security, performance, and operational implications of keeping your data on premise, moving it to the cloud, or taking a hybrid approach. She will use real customer examples to illustrate the tradeoffs, key decision points, and how to be successful with a cloud or hybrid cloud solution.
The cloud provides an easy onramp to building and deploying Big Data solutions. Transitioning from initial deployment to large-scale, highly performant operations may not be as easy. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will discuss the benefits, weaknesses, and performance characteristics of public and bare metal cloud deployments that can help you make the right decisions.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Is your organization struggling to deal with skyrocketing volumes of digital assets? The amount of data is growing exponentially and organizations are having a hard time managing this growth. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Amar Kapadia, Senior Director of Open Cloud Strategy at Seagate, will walk through the essential considerations when developing a cloud storage strategy. In this discussion, you will understand the challenges IT is facing, why companies need to move to cloud, and how the right cloud model can help your business economically overcome the data struggle.
If cloud computing benefits are so clear, why have so few enterprises migrated their mission-critical apps? The answer is often inertia and FUD. No one ever got fired for not moving to the cloud – not yet. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Michael Hoch, SVP, Cloud Advisory Service at Virtustream, will discuss the six key steps to justify and execute your MCA cloud migration.
The 16th International Cloud Expo announces that its Call for Papers is now open. 16th International Cloud Expo, to be held June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
In today's application economy, enterprise organizations realize that it's their applications that are the heart and soul of their business. If their application users have a bad experience, their revenue and reputation are at stake. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management at CA Technologies, will discuss how a user-centric Application Performance Management solution can help inspire your users with every application transaction.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudian is a Foster City, Calif.-based software company specializing in cloud storage. Cloudian HyperStore® is an S3-compatible cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable hybrid cloud storage solutions. Cloudian actively partners with leading cloud computing environments including Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and the vast ecosystem of S3 compatible tools and applications. Cloudian's customers include Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, Nifty, and LunaCloud. The company has additional offices in China and Japan.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise), a leading value-added provider of server and storage virtualization, and r-evolution will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise) is a leading value-added provider of software, systems and solutions for corporations, government organizations, and academic institutions across the United States and Canada. TechXtend is the Exclusive Reseller in the United States for r-evolution