Friday, June 19, 2009

WebWait tests the speed of your website and its free!


What's WebWait?
  • WebWait is a website timer.
  • Use WebWait to benchmark your website or test the speed of your web connection.
  • Timing is accurate because WebWait pulls down the entire website into your browser, so it takes into account Ajax/Javascript processing and image loading which other tools ignore.
To use WebWait visit http://webwait.com/ and enter the url of the site you wish to test into the box on the page and click on "Time It!"

Testing this site (the one you are on now) comes out under 20 seconds. A its a Blogger site I was expecting as much. On my own domain at http://newbeltane.com the result is faster at less than 10 second. Testing www.google.com comes out at between 0.3 and 1.0 seconds, not really a surprise!

Written by Michael Mahemoff, WebwWait has two main uses:
  • As a webmaster, how fast does your site load?
  • As a web user, how fast is your connection and web browser? Imagine you're IMing with a friend, and he notices the page loads slowly. Run a trial on WebWait and send your friend the URL, then they can test it too and you can get a summary of the time it takes.

How does WebWait compare to other benchmarking techniques?

Compared to other techniques such as browser plugins, command-line tools, and websites that pull the data to themselves, WebWait has the following advantages:

  • Accurate timing. You get actual load times in the same client web users are running, not simulated times.
  • Runs in multiple browsers. There are plugins that do this, but as well as the installation overhead, they are usually specific to one browser. With WebWait, you can just cut-and-paste the same URL into different browsers. (No Safari yet as it doesn't listen to iframe onload ???.)
  • Respects your cookies and authentication - If you can access a URL in a web page, you can benchmark it with WebWait. Trying to set up cookies for use with a command-line tool like Curl is hard work. Doing it with a plugin is usually impossible. Doing it with a third-party website is dangerously insecure.
  • Access servers running on your machine or behind the firewall in the your LAN, unlike most external services.

In some cases, those other techniques have benefits over WebWait:

  • Command-line tools, though they suffer from not taking into account browser rendering and Javascript parsing, have the benefit of being scriptable.
  • Browser plugins, though they require installation and are less portable, may be more convenient.

In all cases, there is a common issue to be aware of, which is that the timing is dependent on your own internet setup and local setup. For this reason, WebWait reflects the site being tested in the browser address bar - send this to a friend on the other side of the world to see how fast the site loads over there. (Or send it to a friend using a different browser and operating system.)

How should I run a WebWait test?

In general, it's more realistic to be running just one browser window, and ensure any major operating system delays, such as hard drive swapping, aren't going to affect the browser's performance. So ensure there aren't so many programs running that swapping will be impacting on browser performance.

Does This work in all browsers?

It's been tested in IE6, Firefox, and Opera. There's a problem with Safari for now as it ignores the IE and Firefox Iframe onload event.

Can I test secure sites that require login?

Yes, visit that site first and log in - this will set up your cookies. Then you'll be able to open it up in WebWait.

Why do I get the popup dialog telling me the page can't be loaded?

WebWait works by placing your site inside an IFrame embedded on the WebWait website. Some websites refuse to be embedded in a parent website. Unfortunately, the standard technique they use is to remove the parent website altogether and put themselves in its place. If this happens while you are trying to load your website, it means your Javascript code is causing this problem. Remove it to test with WebWait.

I have a suggestion/comment/flame

Please mail michael@mahemoff.com.

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