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Crisis Averted: The Value of Performance Testing

Woman gesturing in frustration at something on her laptop. performance testing

Creating and maintaining positive user experiences is one of the most influential factors in the success of any business. Thriving online platforms gain traction because they meet the consumers’ expectation of high-quality experiences which are underlined by factors such as ease and speed.

Think about your favourite e-commerce platforms, for example. Now, imagine that platform with slow and complicated check out processes, pages that take forever to load and constant crashes. Would it still be your favourite? Probably not. Even the most patient saint hates that annoying buffering signal.

Herein lies the merit of performance testing. Performance testing is the process of assessing the Speed, Scalability and Stability of a system. Incorporating robust performance testing in your deployment pipeline can be the difference in having ~1K users and >100K users.

There are quite a few performance tests. Each has a different focus point and goal and work towards a greater objective of revealing how the system responds in a variety of situations. A few examples are Load testing, Endurance testing, Stress testing and Peak testing.

 

Assessing the Speed

“Two hundred and fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number for competitive advantage on the Web.”

– Harry Shum, Microsoft.

This metric identified by Harry Shum speaks to the importance of minimizing the time it takes for you application to completely load. It is given that if your page or app doesn’t load immediately it directly impacts the user’s experience. Users expect no delay, even if at times a little delay might be reasonable based on the goal the app might be trying to accomplish. As such speed is one of the most important factors to consider before deploying an application.

 

Assessing the speed involves a number of things but a key area is the recording of the load time of page elements and as a result the page as a whole and then focus on minimizing this over time. It’s a well-observed fact that apps that load faster have a competitive edge over apps that take a bit more time to get up and running.

Assessing the Scalability

Ensuring your application is prepared for any growth is key to maintaining positive user experience. Mocking application behaviour as more and more users interact with your system over time needs to be a key part of the development pipeline. Having an understanding of the expected resource usage and the reliability early on can provide key insight on how to best prepare and react to the situation.

 

Assessing the Scalability can be viewed as assessing the speed under less than optimal conditions such as a database reaching maximum capacity or one of the servers going down due to a sudden influx of concurrent requests. Simulating these conditions allows a team to define accurate thresholds and as a result what measures, alerts or safeguards need to be in place as this is vital to the long-term success of any application.  

Assessing the Stability

How many users can you handle until the system breaks with its current infrastructure?

This is one of the key questions to ask in assessing the scalability of your application.  Getting quantitative answers to such questions will help you to better estimate the amount of financial risk involved and prepare for it since now you have an idea of how many users your application can handle.

Assessing the stability is directly correlated to assessing the scalability because a stable application will scale well as changes occur. The ideal results of Assessing the Stability are commonly obtained by conducting stress tests that give you vital information about application performance in critical scenarios.

 

Best NodeJs performance testing tools

There are a number of existing tools that can be used to conduct the necessary tests. Each has various Pros and Cons but there is one tool in particular that I would recommend, QualityMeter.

Designed by the QualityWorks team, QualityMeter is a lightweight tool that can be easily integrated into the testing pipeline. It is defined within the QDD development process. The unique tool combines some of the best features available in three other tools:

Autocannon – https://github.com/davidmarkclements/0x, load testing tool

0x – https://github.com/davidmarkclements/0x, profiling and bottleneck discovery tool

Climem – https://github.com/mcollina/climem,  memory profile and monitoring in terminal

 

These three tools are powerful because they’re lightweight and can be customized to fit the needs of a team. However, knowing how to use them together might prove to be a little tricky. This is why instead of including the dependencies individually,  QualityMeter incorporates all the features into an open source tool that provides a broad performance test coverage in a lightweight package. Reach out to us at QualityWorks to learn about QualityMeter and how to use it to improve your performance testing experience.

The value of performance testing lies in its ability to help you to develop an application that users will love and find valuable. Keeping users satisfied ultimately translates into more business and more revenue which makes performance testing not just a solid investment but a necessity. 

Contact us to learn more about how conducting performance testing can help you to deliver better service.

 

 

Javon Davis is a QA Consultant at QualityWorks Consulting Group that specializes in mobile app development and mobile automation.

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