On Nov 14th, Mozilla released Firefox Quantum. On launch day, I personally felt that the new version was rendering pages faster and I heard anecdotal reports indicating the same. There have also been a few benchmarks which seem to show that this latest Firefox version is getting content to screens faster than its predecessor. But I wanted to try a different approach to measurement.
Given the vast amount of performance information that we collect at Akamai, I thought it would be interesting to benchmark the performance of Firefox Quantum with a large set of real end-user performance data. The results were dramatic: the new browser improved DOM Content Loaded time by an extremely impressive 24%. Let’s take a look at how those results were achieved.
Since the HTTP Archive is capturing the timing information on each request, I thought it would be interesting to correlate request timings (ie, when an object was loaded) with page timings. The idea is that we can categorize resources that were loaded before or after and event.
I thought it would be interesting to explore how some of the page metrics we use to analyze web performance compare with each other. In the HTTP Archive “pages” table, metrics such as TTFB, renderStart, VisuallyComplete, onLoad and fullyLoaded are tracked. And recently some of the newer metrics such as Time to Interactive, First Meaningful Paint, First Contentful paint, etc exist in the HAR file tables.
But first, a warning about using response time data from the HTTP Archive. While the accuracy has improved since the change to Chrome based browsers on linux agents – we’re still looking at a single measurement from many sites, all run from a single location and a single browser or mobile device (Moto G4). For this reason, I’m not looking at any specific website’s performance, but rather analyzing the full data-set for patterns and insights.
As of July 2017, the “average” page weight is 3MB. @Tammy wrote an excellent blog post about HTTP Archive page stats and trends. Last year @igrigorik published an analysis on page weight using CDF plots. And of course, we can view the trends over time on the HTTP Archive trends page. Since this is all based on HTTP Archive data, I thought I’d start a thread here to continue the discussion on how to gauge the increase in page weight over time.
You may not think about it much, but fonts play a critical role in how quickly a web page renders. Custom font usage has increased steadily over the past six years, and as of this writing, 68% of sites in the HTTP Archive use at least one custom font. Continue reading
I worked on an interesting performance investigation recently, and I wanted to share some of the techniques I used to dig in and isolate the problem.
It all started when a customer informed me that they rolled back an HTTP/2 configuration push because it caused significant slowdowns on their site. And by significant they meant a greater than one minute delay in render time!
As with many performance troubleshooting efforts, I started with WebPageTest to get an idea of what was causing the delays. I then dug deeper with a variety of additional tools and techniques. This particular issue turned out to be caused by a really interesting bug in the Chrome browser, which was recently patched.
As web developers, we want to give our users the best possible experience, and so we tend to focus on how fast the page loads. In a recent blog post here, Flattening the Earth: Testing and Improving Content Delivery, the author uses WebPageTest to test how fast a page loads in various environments. But page loading speed alone doesn’t give us the full picture on the user’s experience.