Welcome!

Java Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Jim Kaskade, Liz McMillan, Nikita Ivanov

Related Topics: Java, SOA & WOA, AJAX & REA, Web 2.0, Open Web, Apache

Java: Article

Top Performance Mistakes: Supersized Content

Top performance mistakes when moving from test to production

Because of the efforts of people like Steve Souders, John Resig, Sergey Chernyshev, Paul Irish, ... a lot has changed when it comes to optimizing web site performance. Browser and Application Performance Vendors built tools to make Web Performance Optimization easier than ever before. Web Frameworks are optimized to generate better web pages.

However, looking at the following chart reminds us that best practices, conferences and tools alone didn't succeed and building optimized web sites is getting even harder. As can be seen, the main problem with modern web sites is the growing number of resources, the size of the content, and the declining user experience that results from the first two items:

Page Size and Number of Objects on an Average Page doubled over a period of 12 months

If your testing efforts are not focusing on these metrics, read this graph as: "Let's test and optimize our page size!"

You don't want to spend endless test cycles optimizing your applications' "business logic" performance when the major impact of page load times come from too much multi-media content, JavaScript files or content from third-party providers. To prevent this from surprising you, all it takes is testing your application from the perspective of your real end user. This enables you to prevent "super-sized" web pages from hitting the public web. In this blog I show some examples of why pages end up being too big and how to identify these problems before moving them to production.

Example #1: Too many resources
Have you ever analyzed the pages of your application using tools such as dynaTrace AJAX Edition, YSlow, Google Page Speed or SpeedOfTheWeb? The following example is taken from a blog I did last year analyzing the page performance of retail web sites. It shows how many resources are loaded for a single page and how loading that many resources from a large number of different domains comes with the additional cost of Connect and DNS time per domain.

Many websites do not follow Web Performance Optimization Best Practices leading to very long page load times

When we compare this to another online retail store, it becomes clear that there is a lot that can be achieved by optimizing resources loaded on the initial page visit.

Testing and optimizing web sites on resources can lead to 5 times faster page load time

It's clear that not every web site can be optimized like this - but there is a lot of room for improvement and there are lots of easy wins we can achieve. Whether it's merging JavaScript files or using CSS Sprites to reduce the number of images, any or all of these are steps that make sure your web pages won't get supersized.

The statistics shown at the beginning of this post clearly highlight that the average web site is growing in size and complexity. To avoid this, it takes a testing team that focuses on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as # of Images, # of CSS Files, # of external domains, # of used JavaScript Frameworks ... The Best Practices are out there; so are the tools. Now it only takes effort to implement them.

The good news is that testing and verifying these KPIs can be automated and integrated in your continuous performance test process. This avoids manually looking over the results of every single tested page of your application. Here's what it takes to implement it:

  1. Testing Tools that use real browsers in order to test downloads of dynamic content, JavaScript Times, ...
  2. Browser Diagnostic tools that analyze tested pages based on these performance metrics
  3. A Smart Performance Repository that automatically alerts on performance regressions

The following screenshot shows what continuous testing on these KPIs looks like and how to identify regressions immediately by monitoring these metrics for every page and for every test:

Analyzing Key Performance Indicators for every tested page identify regressions early on

Example #2: Heavy Third-Party Content
As already highlighted in the first example, it's not only your own content that can blow up your pages. You probably rely on third-party content such as Ads, Social Platform Widges or Map Services. If that's the case you want to make sure that:

  • Your pages only load the third-party content that is really needed, e.g, global includes in web projects may load third-party content on pages where not necessary
  • You include this third-party party content in an optimized way, e.g., why provide an interactive world map when all you want to do is show a static image of your address?

Klaus Enzenhofer wrote a great blog about Third Party Content Management applied - where he highlights the impact of third-party content and also how to test it. The key message is that you need to understand what type of third-party content you really need, how much impact it has on your page load times, and how to optimize it. Klaus did some testing with Standard Google Maps vs. Static Maps and how this one change can optimize your page load time while still relying on third-party content. The following table shows the difference when using these two ways of including the Maps Services on your page:

KPI

Standard Google Maps

Static Google Maps

Difference in %

First Impression Time

493 ms

324 ms

-34%

Onload Time

473 ms

368ms

-22%

Total Load Time

1801 ms

700 ms

-61%

JavaScript Time

563 ms

0 ms

-100%

Number of Domains

6

1

-83%

Number of Resources

43

2

-95%

Total Pagesize

636 Kb

77 Kb

-88%

For measuring the overhead of third-party content simply take the same tools as explained in the previous example. The following shows the timeline view of dynaTrace where the overhead of Facebook and Google+ are easy to spot:

Analyze your page load times to spot slow third-party content

Call-to-Action
Let's make sure that all the great work that has been done to optimize web site performance is not just left to the browser vendors - they won't be able to speed up your web sites by building a new JavaScript engine or by allowing the browser to download more content on more parallel network connections. Keep the following list in mind:

  • Make sure that these Best Practices are enforced early in the development cycle as well as throughout your performance testing
  • Monitor the critical Key Performance Indicators to ensure that your web sites don't end up super-sized
  • Test using real browsers and don't exclusively rely on protocol-based performance testing

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
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.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.