Dialing In to Web App Performance Testing

Our Chief Technology Officer Kaushal Amin’s recent piece published in App Developer Magazine examines what to do when web app performance goes askew. In particular, Amin articulated the importance of web app performance testing and how so many companies make the common mistake of forging ahead with a web app without testing, only later to witness functional flaws – realizing too late that testing performance of the app itself is an absolute must.

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But wait, does that mean test every functionality of the web app to make sure everything is performing flawlessly?

Not exactly.

When it comes to web app performance testing, it’s crucial to examine the business relevance of the functions of the web app, the degrees of performance that impact business outcomes, and a willingness to conclude that certain web app functions, depending on their relative importance to the overall business, can be acceptably ‘good enough’.

It’s highly likely that a web app performance issue went awry because there was a lack of attention in the planning of the web app as to its business importance. In addition to not properly thinking through to what degree the functions of the web app have to perform in order to optimize business outcomes, the original planning most likely lacked the presence of a “what if” scenario.

For example, this quarter we expect the web app to have a certain number of concurrent users, but what if we underestimated? If that happens, can the app readily adapt?

Of course our engineering DNA within us wants everything to work as planned; but even then, that can be deleterious to the business mission. With limited resources, it’s important to focus the app performance – and testing of the app performance – on what really matters, business-speaking.

First and foremost examine what really has to occur in performance of the app for the business to be supported to a sufficient standard. Focus on testing for that specific app performance and forego examining aspects that have little relevance to the business outcome at hand.

Amin’s feature article in App Developer breaks down web app performance issues into three key code analysis areas: Presentation tier, Business tier, and Data access/database tier.

Tracking down problem areas used to be a labor intensive process but today the market is full of good solutions for profiling and tracking, allowing you to readily locate problem areas. Some suggestions of tools to help manage issues include: Firebug, Safari Developer Tools, Google Speed Tracer, JProfiler and Visual Studio.

In brief, Kaushal Amin’s article looks at 3 steps to successful web app performance tuning, including testing and identifying slow performance areas, prioritizing the findings, followed by triaging and fixing the problem issues.

For a more in-depth study please turn to App Developer.


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