Collected thoughts about software and site performance ...

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Home | Entries about Measuring Performance (16), in reverse date order:

Measuring Mobile Web Sites

Illustration: Web Analytics Report

The methods commonly used to measure Web sites often don't work for mobile sites, because of differences among mobile platforms and devices. The biggest obstacles are lack of support on mobile devices for Cookies, JavaScript, and client IP addresses.

The Wikipedia article on Mobile Web Analytics provides a succinct introduction to these and other challenges -- see the section on "Problems with tracking visitors, visits and clickpaths in the Mobile Web". Because of these limitations, the tagging methods used by traditional Web analytics tools do not work on most mobile devices.

While researching this subject, I discovered Kaizen Analytics, an excellent blog by Michael Notté. In a recent post, Michael provides a useful overview -- see Mobile Analytics: vertical-specific vs. traditional Web Analytics solutions. Michael points out that there are other ways to collect data about mobile Web sites. He outlines four solution approaches, illustrating each with a helpful diagram:

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Choosing Performance Management Tools

Illustration: Apdex Logo

With over 30 application performance management (APM) tool vendors offering scores of products, buyers face hundreds of confusing choices. Compounding the problem, the lack of a common taxonomy, or standard APM nomenclature, makes cross-vendor product comparisons especially challenging.

To address this challenge, NetForecast has developed an APM tools framework anyone can use to define APM requirements and map them to vendor offerings. On June 30 2010, Peter Sevcik will describe this framework in a Webinar hosted by the Apdex Alliance ...

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Four Laws of Web Site Performance

Illustration: Stopwatch

Human beings don’t like to wait. We don’t like waiting in line at a store, we don’t like waiting for our food at a restaurant, and we definitely don’t like waiting for Web pages to load.

Those words open Web Page Response Time 101, an excellent article by Alberto Savoia. Although it was published in July 2001, it remains every bit as relevant and useful today. It does a really good job of explaining and summarizing two fundamental aspects of Web performance -- human behavior and site behavior.

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Web Analytics Vendors Adapt to Web 2.0

Illustration: Web Analytics Report

Most hosted Web Analytics vendors charge you according to page views -- not unreasonable since each view is a call to their server and a new record in their database. But what happens when Ajax and other rich applications eliminate the notion of a "page"?

That's from Web 2.0 Changes Web Analytics Pricing Models, a recent post by Phil Kemelor in CMP's Intelligent Enterprise Weblog. Describing how he sees Web Analytics (WA) vendors adapting to Web 2.0, Phil continues ...

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Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

The Law of Measurements

Performance Wisdom: 8

The result of any measurement will depend upon what is measured, how the measurement is done, and how the results are computed

Recent posts have discussed some insightful statements about the importance of measurements by Lord Kelvin, Grace Hopper, Tom DeMarco, and Tom Gilb.

In the last of these, I concluded that Gilb's observation (Anything you need to quantify can be measured in some way that is superior to not measuring it at all) gets across the value of measurements without making any claims that are too far-reaching or contentious.

A follow-up comment and the ensuing conversation with Ben Simo -- author of Quality Frog, a blog about software testing and software quality -- reminded me of this post, which I'd been meaning to complete and publish for a while. I'll explain the reasons for the delay below.

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Controlling What You Can't Measure

Tom Gilb on Measurement

Management Wisdom: 2

Performance Wisdom: 6

Anything you need to quantify can be measured in some way that is superior to not measuring it at all

Posts on The Importance of Measurements and Controlling Software Projects have reviewed the origin of the saying that "you can't manage what you can't (or don't) measure". Today I look more closely at its meaning and validity -- how true is it?

One apparent contradiction is that this much quoted fact of management is also widely viewed as a fallacy -- or at least, as an over-exaggerated claim -- especially by people in the software engineering profession, which seems (in the person of Tom DeMarco) to have coined the saying in the first place. That contradiction was highlighted in a 2003 book by Robert L. Glass, Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering [Amazon].

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Controlling Software Projects

Tom DeMarco on Control

Management Wisdom: 1

You can't control what you can't measure

My post on The importance of measurements highlighted Lord Kelvin's famous statement that "if you cannot measure, then your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory", and the modern saying that "you can't manage what you can't (or don't) measure." Both advance the notion that measurements are indispensable.

I also discussed the origin of the second saying, which is very widely quoted, but rarely attributed to anyone. People sometimes cite Peter Drucker or W. Edwards Deming, but it seems fairly certain that both of those attributions are mistaken.

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The Wisdom of Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper's
Rule

Performance Wisdom: 5

One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions

Previous posts in this series described the influence of Moore's Law and Wirth's Law on application performance, how to balance hardware capacity and software demand with a systematic approach to performance tuning, and the five fundamental elements of computer system performance.

This post is the second of a small group devoted to the importance of measurements. Kelvin's dictum ("if you cannot measure, then your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory"), and the popular saying, "you can't manage what you can't (or don't) measure," each advance the idea that measurements are indispensable.

But such a sweeping claim may not actually be true in every instance, so I am now highlighting some slightly more focused statements about the value of measurements.

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The Importance of Measurements

Lord Kelvin's Dictum

Performance Wisdom: 4

If you cannot measure, then your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory

Previous posts in this series described the influence of Moore's Law and Wirth's Law on application performance, how to balance hardware capacity and software demand with a systematic approach to performance tuning, and the five fundamental elements of computer system performance.

Today's post is the first of several that will review insights on the central importance of measurements. Previously I've described how I view measurements as the foundation of all performance management -- see, for example, The ABC's of Measurement Data and my review of Practical Service Level Management.

Today's quote by Lord Kelvin sums up my point of view. Unless you have measured something, your attempts at managing it, and maintaining or improving its performance, will be unscientific at best ...

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Ajax Performance Management

Illustration: Monitor and AJAX

In my post on Ajax Wisdom, I reviewed the progress of Ajax against the Gartner Hype Cycle, concluding that Ajax had not yet advanced beyond the Trough of Disillusionment. I referred to Michael Mahemoff's recent post about Ajax concerns as just one piece of evidence.

Michael responded (see the comments) that the mere existence of concerns does not indicate anything, because any viable technology has outstanding problems to be solved. To judge Ajax I should really look at the progress that has already been made in solving problems. So let's do that ...

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