Monitoring the Performance of a Web Application with IBM Page Detailer

Abstract

IBM® Page Detailer is a browser side tool to measure the performance of a Web application. It collects most of its useful data at the socket level to reveal the performance details of items in the Web page, from the client’s (browser’s) perspective.

Page Detailer allows you to look at how and when each item is loaded in a Web page. Analyzing this data allows you to identify the areas where performance could be improved. The user’s perception of performance is determined based on the time to display pages, so measuring and analyzing this data will provide insight into the user’s experience of your application.

For related information about this topic, refer to the following IBM Redbooks publication:
IBM WebSphere V5.1 Performance, Scalability, and High Availability WebSphere Handbook Series, SG24-6198-01

Contents


Overview
IBM Page Detailer is a graphical tool that enables Web site developers and editors to rapidly and accurately assess performance from the client's perspective. IBM Page Detailer provides details about the manner in which Web pages are delivered to Web browsers. These details include the timing, size, and identity of each item in a page. This information can help Web developers, designers, site operators, and IT specialists to isolate problems and improve performance and user satisfaction. Page Detailer can be used with any site that your browser can access.

Page Detailer is a separately downloadable product that can be obtained from IBM alphaWorks® at: http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/pagedetailer

There are two versions available:
  • Evaluation version: This version is free but does not support all features.
  • Pro version: This version must be licensed for a small fee and contains the following additional features:
    • Full support for HTTPS (SSL) traffic
    • Saving and restoration of captured data
    • Ability to add/edit your own notes for captured pages and items
    • A find facility for working with text

The supported platforms for Page Detailer are Windows® 2000 and Windows XP.

Functions
The Page Detailer can monitor all HTTP and HTTPS requests originating from the machine where it is running. Thus it can be used to measure performance for Web applications running either locally or remotely, on either WebSphere Application Server or IBM WebSphere Studio Application Developer or any other Web site or application. Hence the Page Detailer may be used at any time during the project development cycle, from coding through to production support. Note that when analyzing the performance of non-production environments, differences in the production environment topology and configuration could result in differences in the measured performance results.

IBM Page Detailer gathers the following information:
  • Connection time
  • Socks connection time and size
  • SSL connection time and size
  • Server response time and size
  • Content delivery time and size
  • Delays between transfers
  • Request headers
  • Post data
  • Reply headers
  • Content data
  • Page totals, averages, minimums, and maximums

For each page that is accessed, a color-coded bar chart of the time taken to load the page items will be generated. The length of a particular bar gives a good idea of the relative time spent in loading that item, as compared to the whole page. You will see that in some cases, items of a page may be loaded in parallel. This will appear in the chart with bars that overlap. The information that is captured by the Page Detailer includes page size as well as sizes of all other items loaded by the browser.

Key factors for Web page loading time
Some of the key factors that influence the time to load a Web page in a browser are:
  • Page size.
  • Number, complexity, and size of items embedded in the page.
  • Number of servers that need to be accessed to retrieve all elements, and their location and network connectivity.
  • Use of SSL (this introduces an extra overhead).

The Page Detailer will help you to identify when one of these problems is affecting some or all of your application. It will also help to identify problems such as broken links and server timeouts.

Special Notices

This material has not been submitted to any formal IBM test and is published AS IS. It has not been the subject of rigorous review. IBM assumes no responsibility for its accuracy or completeness. The use of this information or the implementation of any of these techniques is a client responsibility and depends upon the client's ability to evaluate and integrate them into the client's operational environment. publib-b.boulder.ibm.com

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Publish Date
27 July 2004


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