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Tools of the trade – improve portal performane using browser tracing tools

So you think the server is tuned, you Get your free I(E)Tunes and the Chop your logs!, but something still doesn’t flow right… what can it be? How can you trace it? Do you think the server response is optimized? Let’s be sure of that!

Finding performance problems doesn’t always mean you need to take your administrator permissions and dive into the bowels of the monster (a.k.a your portal server). You can get a pretty good picture of what is going on using your browser and some http tracing software. This week I want to give you a glance of some tools that can help you trace the problem from the client side. Next time I will demonstrate how to find these pesky annoying problems, identify them and off course – take care of them once and for all.

You will be amazed of the amount of information you can reveal from this easy-to-do client side tracing.


What tool are you looking for?

You are looking for a tool that will help you monitor the client-server chit-chats, easy to do if you work for one of the intelligence agencies… if not, you will need a gauze soaked with anesthesia, pair of scissors, lock picking equipment and some heavy tool to beat the network’s administrator password out of him. OR just keep on reading :)).
The best tool will be one that is plugged into the browser and can show what is loaded from cache and what is going over the wire, second in best is a “proxy like” tool that can only show what is going via the net, it will also require additional configuration. On this point I will say that I don’t have any specific preference for one of the tools, SAP has a license for one so I use it and it gives me what I need, I don’t see any clear advantage in one of the other tools I mention below. If you have different experience the “comments” part below is craving for content…


For IE we have the following tools (partial list of tools):

HTTPWatch –

HTTP Analyzer –

Debug Bar –

For FireFox

Proxy tools (won’t show you the cache requests)


How to work with it?

In each tool it is slightly different but the principal is the same, you click some “start” button, perform your scenario (for example, login to the portal) and then “stop”. You can now analyze the data that was collected. What you are interested in is the request headers, amount of content, whether or not the response came from local cache or server, what was the response code etc…

Screenshot of HTTPWatch trace of the portal:

HTTPWatch screenshot


Marked with red you can see the http requests and some basic info about each one, below are the details (marked in blue).

Next time we will discuss real-life examples of client-server communication.


Until next time,


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