Tech giants strive for web app benchmarking standard

benchmarking data

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced a new Web Performance Working Group tasked with coming up with a single standard for measuring cloud-based app performance times universally.

The group, which will be co-chaired by representatives from Microsoft and Google, will initially focus on creating a common API for measuring web page loading and app performance figures.

Both companies have already made a great deal of progress in that regard independently. The W3C's existing Web Timing draft spec is already part of the WebKit rendering engine behind Google's Chrome browser, with performance metrics having been made available to developers in July.

Microsoft, meanwhile, implemented the spec in its third platform preview of the forthcoming Internet Explorer 9 back in June. In both implementations vendor-specific prefixes have been used, but Microsoft's Jason Weber lead program manager for IE performance and one of the co-chairs of the working group says that will present only a minor obstacle.

"With two early implementations available, it shouldn't take long to finalize an interoperable API and remove the vendor prefixes," Weber argued in a blog post yesterday.

Weber said a common standard would be of huge benefit to developers, especially when working on emerging platforms such as HTML5.

"Enabling web developers to understand the real world performance characteristics of their applications is critical to the success of HTML5, and we're excited to have been selected as co-chairs of the new working group alongside Google," Weber said.

The existing Java-based method of checking app performance has long been seen as inadequate both for its difficulty and the fact that the testing process itself affects the performance it is supposed to be measuring a fact pointed out in a blog post by IE program manager Anderson Quach in June when detailing the IE9 Wed Timing spec.

"Measuring real-world performance of websites is difficult and error prone today. Developers are forced to use hacks, such as injecting low resolution JavaScript timestamps throughout their code, which slows down the pages for end users, introduces an observer effect, and provides inaccurate results which can drive the wrong behaviour," Quach wrote.

Only broad milestones have thus far been put in place for the Web Performance Working Group the first being the finalising of a First Working Draft specification by September 2010.