Response times, availability, and stability are vital factors to
bear in mind when creating and maintaining a web application. If you’re
concerned about your web pages’ speed or want to make sure you’re in
tip-top shape before starting or launching a project, here’s a few useful, free tools to help you create and sustain high-performance web applications.
I’ve tried to include a wide variety of tools that are easy to use,
and have tried to keep them as OS and technology-independent as
possible so that everyone can find a tool or two.
YSlow grades a website’s performance based on the best practices for high performance web sites
on the Yahoo! Developer Network. Each rule is given a letter grade (A
through F) stating how you rank on certain aspects of front-end
performance. It’s a simple tool for finding things you can work on such
as reducing the number of HTTP request a web page makes, and
Ajax performance analysis post on IBM developerWorks that outlines practical ways of using YSlow in your web applications.
Firebug is an essential browser-based web development tool
for debugging, testing, and analyzing web pages. It has a powerful set
of utilities to help you understand and dissect what’s going on. One of
the many notable features is the Net (network”) tab where you can
inspect HTML, CSS, XHR, JS components.
3. Fiddler 2
Fiddler 2 is a browser-based HTTP debugging tool that helps
you analyze incoming and outgoing traffic. It’s highly customizable and
has countless of reporting and debugging features. Be sure to read the “Fiddler PowerToy – Part 2: HTTP Performance”
guide on the MSDN which discusses functional uses of Fiddler including
how to improve “first-visit” performance (i.e. unprimed cache),
analyzing HTTP response headers, creating custom flags for potential
performance problems and more.
Cuzillion is a cool tool to help you see how page
components interact with each other. The goal here is to help you
quickly rapidly check, test, and modify web pages before you finalize
the structure. It can give you clues on potential trouble-spots or
points of improvements. Cuzillion was created by Steve Saunders,
the ex-Chief Performance at Yahoo!, a leading engineer for the
development of Yahoo’s performance best practices, and creator of YSlow.
monitor.us is a free web-based service that grants you a
suite of tools for monitoring performance, availability, and traffic
statistics. You can establish your website’s response time and set up
alerts for when a service becomes unavailable. You can also set-up
weekly, automated benchmarks to see if changes you’ve made impact speed
and performance either positively or negatively.
The IBM Page Detailer is a straightforward tool for letting
you visualize web components as they’re being downloaded. It latches
onto your browser, so all you have to do is navigate to the desired
site with the IBM Page Detailer open. Clicking on a web page component
opens a window with the relevant details associated with it. Whenever
an event occurs (such as a script being executed), the tool opens a
window with information about the processes.
Httperf is an open-source tool for measuring HTTP server
performance running on Linux. It’s an effective tool for benchmarking
and creating workload simulations to see if you can handle high-level
traffic and still maintain stability. You can also use it to figure out
the maximum capacity of your server, gradually increasing the number of
requests you make to test its threshold.
Pylot is an open-source performance and scalability testing
tool. It uses HTTP load tests so that you can plan, benchmark, analyze
and tweak performance. Pylot requires that you have Python installed on
the server – but you don’t need to know the language, you use XML to
create your testing scenarios.
PushToTest TestMaker is a free, open-source platform for
testing scalability and performance of applications. It has an
intuitive graphical user interface with visual reporting and analytical
tools. It has a Resource Monitor feature to help you see CPU, memory,
and network utilization during testing. The reporting features let you
generate graphs or export data into a spreadsheet application for
record-keeping or further statistics analysis.
Wbox is a simple, free HTTP testing software released under
the GPL (v2). It supports Linux, Windows, and MacOS X systems. It works
by making sequential requests at desired intervals for stress-testing.
It has an HTTP compression command so that you can analyze data about
your server’s file compression. If you’ve just set up a virtual domain,
Wbox HTTP testing tool also comes with a command for you to test if
everything’s in order before deployment.
WebLOAD is an open-source, professional grade stress/load
testing suite for web applications. WebLOAD allows testers to perform
monitoring, recording, and analysis purposes, using client-side data to
analyze performance. It’s not just a performance tool – it comes with
authoring and debugging features built in.
DBMonster is an open-source application to help you tune
database structures and table indexes, as well as conduct tests to
determine performance under high database load. It’ll help you see how
well your database/s will scale by using automated generation of test
data. It supports many databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle,
MSSQL and (probably) any database that supports the JDBC driver.
The OctaGate SiteTimer is a simple utility for determining
the time it takes to download everything on a web page. It gives you a
visualization of the duration of each state during the download process
(initial request, connection, start of download, and end of download).
The Web Page Analyzer is an extremely simple, web-based
test to help you gain information on web page performance. It gives you
data about the total number of HTTP requests, total page weight, your
objects’ sizes, and more. It tries to estimate the download time of
your web page on different internet connections and it also enumerates
each page object for you. At the end, it provides you with an analysis
and recommendation of the web page tested – use your own judgment in
interpreting the information.
Site-Perf.com is a free web-based service that gives you
information about your site’s loading speed. With Site-Perf.com’s tool,
you get real-time capturing of data. It can help you spot bottlenecks,
find page errors, gather server data, and more – all without having to
install an application or register for an account.
More Tools and Related Resources
- Apache JMeter
a Java-based desktop application for performance testing Apache servers.
- The Grinder
an open-source load testing framework that intends to make automated tests simpler.
- “Optimizing Page Load Time”
an article on improving page load time.
- “What the 80/20 Rule Tells Us about Reducing HTTP Requests”
a blog post on the YUI blog explaining the precedence of front-end performance for optimal response times.
If you have a favorite web performance tool that wasn’t on the list,
share it in the comments. Would also like to hear your experiences,
tips, suggestions, and resources you use.
And if you’re interested in analyzing the effectiveness of a web page design, be sure to check out 7 Incredibly Useful Tools for Evaluating a Web Design.