Latest Posts on Managing Web Performance

Should Your Code Your Own Web Applications or Hire Someone Else?

Whether it be for business or personal use, there are a lot of details that must be considered before the creation of a web application, the most immediate of which is whether or not the site should be self-made or professionally done. Even if the funds are available for hiring a third party, is it the right choice? Before making any crucial decisions about design, functionality, or even a name there are some simple questions that should be answered before considering hiring someone more experienced with web development. What will the app be used for? How often might updates be required? Is coding really as difficult as it may seem? What features will be needed?

If you’re planning to create web app and know absolutely nothing about coding, this can pose a problem as coding is fairly difficult. Although there are a number of sites where you can learn how to code and develop apps, there’s a steep learning curve there most of the time, and if you’re unfamiliar or uneasy about trying to learn this yourself, then you may be better of hiring a professional.

From Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), to Ruby and other coding languages, including the different scripts, such as Java Code, the work put into coding an app can become very confusing and time consuming. However, creating application that looks both professional and functional is not impossible, it just takes time to learn the process. There are certain elements that may have to be omitted, such as animations or special features, without more advanced knowledge of coding.

On the other hand, hiring a service to do the programming and coding work saves time and effort but not without its own consequences: besides the expense, maintaining the application potentially means retaining the company for their services, and perhaps for far longer than anticipated. It also means giving up a certain amount of control, or rather having to delegate every matter of change involving the application with a third party. The developer chosen would also have full access to the app for a certain period of time, and this could mean sharing sensitive or proprietary data. In the end, after considering all the positives and negatives of either choice, the final decision ultimately comes down to which is best for your individual situation. There’s no technical right and wrong answer, so you need to determine what works best for you and then go ahead with that plan.

One final thing to think about for after you’ve got your final web application deployed and running is the idea of monitoring. Yes, it’s crucial to even monitor a little video player on your website. There are a number of web app monitoring services available, and if you aren’t utilizing at least even a free solution, all of those development dollars you put into your app might go to waste because no one can access it.

Application Performance Monitoring Tools and Testing: Why It’s Important

Although we’ve made great strides in application performance management, the need for adequate testing remains. In fact, not even the most sophisticated IDEs can spare developers from this critical step of software programming. They may have simplified coding and automated interface design, but testing has always been and will always be an external exercise that rests solely on the developer. Here’s why application performance testing is so important.

Slow application performance can increase costs and ruin a company’s reputation

It doesn’t matter if you offer your web application as freeware or as a commercial product. Buggy software can slow performance and increase costs by (1) delaying release dates, (2) suspending development of other projects, (3) requiring paid overtime and/or (4) necessitating refunds to angry customers. Complicating the situation even further, dissatisfied customers may publicly express their discontent and ruin a product’s potential to develop a devoted following. Even worse, the developer’s reputation may suffer as well.

Improper application management can lead to off-label usage

At some point in an application’s life-cycle, an end-user will run the app in an unintended way. When pursing off-label usage of an app, users typically feel frustrated as functionality and performance of the application suffer. When managing the life-cycle progress, it is imperative to have an application performance monitoring (APM) system in place for testing. An APM system can catch off-label usage and alert the managing IT application engineer to the issue. Programmers do not need to accommodate every unintended action that users take, however, they should assume a significant number of end-users will encounter application performance and functionality issues in the first cycle of product release, and implement an application performance monitoring strategy to help manage this process.

The application may not perform correctly on all platforms

We all know that a single website can take on a completely new appearance in different browsers. Colors will be off, carefully lined HTML DIVs will be askew, and CSS specified fonts will disappear in favor of installed typefaces. Web applications suffer from the same effects, making things like cross browser testing absolutely imperative. One of the best ways to monitor and track errors with cross-compatibility issues when browsers are updating is to use a web application monitoring service. There are numerous vendors and companies that offer these services, so they’re readily available and not too expensive. One of my favorites is Kiwi Monitor, which offers both a free and paid application monitoring tool.

One thing to note about cross platform issues is that an app’s GUI isn’t the only issue affected here. Both browsers and the servers that they access can change the way a coded app operates, which is why developers have to either code separate versions for each browser and/or server combo, or program a single app with conditional statements that can address a variety of environments and their specific needs.

It’s important to remember that the need for testing increases with every modification. Never assume that fixing one bug is a sufficient repair job because chances are, a single change can alter a significant number of other areas in an application and inadvertently create additional bugs. So to summarize, in the app development cycle it is important to implement an application performance monitoring tool and then test, test, and test again!

What Causes a Website to Go Down?

Whether you’re operating a small blog or a large scale website, chances are that you’ve experienced some downtime at one point or another. For most website owners, this is incredibly frustrating because during this time, visitors aren’t able to access your site, and that can be a big problem. Even regular readers to your blog can become frustrated and never come back again. Even with that said, the biggest frustration above anything else may be that it’s often hard to identify the causes of why a website is down. Anything from malicious hackers to server issues can cause a website to go dark, and for an unknown amount of time too. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why a website might go down.

To start with, unreliable hosting is without a doubt one of the most frequent causes of website downtime. There are many budget hosting companies that advertise low rates, but that comes at a price—and that is the availability of your website. Although they often advertise 99% uptime, budget hosts frequently struggle to meet even 70% uptime. This is not to say that expensive hosts don’t have issues too, but they are more frequently seen in budget hosts because they “oversell” the space on their servers hoping that not all websites will need the resources at once. Their estimates are frequently wrong, and then you’re left with a website that isn’t consistently up. One reason that people don’t often notice this with budget web hosts is because they don’t have a system in place to monitor uptime and downtime. There are a number of third-party solutions available for a reasonable rate that can help you get a handle on this problem, and even approach a web host about a refund or discount when their uptime falls below the specific number in their service-level agreement.

Another reason that websites are sometimes down is because of outside threats like hackers. Whether it’s to take control of your email server, or to manipulate other aspects of your site, malicious tampering can cause a lot of database errors and other problems with the way your website communicates with the server. Sometimes an extremely slow connection from the server to the DNS can be a cause of your site being down as well. In order to make sure this isn’t the problem, it’s sometimes a good idea to run a web site speedtest if you are suspect that connectivity issues might be part of the problem.

Sometimes a site can go down because of other reasons, such as a plugin conflict in WordPress, a sudden surge in traffic, or even an error by the website owner where they’ve made a coding error that causing a conflict with the site’s files. Hopefully now you have a good idea of some of the basic and most common causes of website downtime. Check back soon as we’ll be authoring a number of other posts on this blog that can help to educate you on more performance-based issues! Stay tuned!

Development Ideas: How to Pick a Winner

Our modern lives have become dependent on the World Wide Web. From personal use to business applications, research to entertainment, the Internet permeates every aspect of our daily routines. Gone are the times when a static web page would suffice to promote a business, transmit information, or connect people across the world. Today people expect to interact with the online software they are using. The advancements in web application are continually making more innovations possible while also increasing the users’ expectations.

So how does a web developer know if their idea will be a winner? There are several aspects that must be considered in this process. Taking the proper steps of analysis, market research, software specification, interface elements, and maintenance will get a developer going in the right direction. Some other important factors to consider are flexibility, security, simplicity, and usability.

Currently, the software for web pages and web-based solutions utilizes a wide range of programming languages to develop specific applications. The availability of these multiple options helps to ensure that new web applications are compatible with the vast variety of platforms, servers, and systems for which they may be implemented.

The people using the World Wide Web cover every demographic and the ways they are utilizing the Internet are endless. It could be an individual shopping for regular household items or perhaps something more specialized. Corporations may be using their websites to solidify their brand as well as interact with both employees and customers. People are realizing more each day the wealth of information at their fingertips.

With these awesome capabilities some considerations must be addressed with regards to web development. Personal or confidential information must be protected even as it is being shared with authorized users globally. While many processes can now be automated, they must be properly tested before something goes wrong when they are being used. With the wide audience that many of these programs reach possible complications must be considered and eliminated.

Another important factor when deciding how to bring an application to fruition and determining whether it will perform as expected is how people will access it. With the abundance of smart phones, tablets, and the different operating systems, these programs need to be versatile and easy to use.

The exponential growth and sophistication of both the web applications and the devices we use them on make the web development industry an exciting place to explore. Our increasing reliance on technology brings us new innovations every day. A great idea properly executed can help shape this ever-evolving industry as well as bring an individual, business, or organization great success with an Internet presence.