Patrick Meenan, the creator of WebPagetest, noted in December 2012 that 90% of issues on the forums are time to first byte (TTFB) problems. TTFB is the time it takes to make the first request until the first bit of content is received. This includes things like DNS resolution, TCP connection, SSL negotiation, but also server processing time. “Server processing time” sounds vague, because it is. What exactly is going on here? Why is it taking so long?
We already have tools to debug back end performance issues. The discipline of Application Performance Management (APM) can give us the necessary insight into back end performance bottlenecks. This data is traditionally locked away in a DevOps admin interface.
Performance testing is a multi-disciplinary challenge. We need tools that can bridge the gap between front and back end performance testing.
Let’s get the ball rolling and talk about what needs to be done to accomplish this. What HAR files did for front end performance, we need a standard data interchange format for back end performance as well. With this data available in a consumable way, tools like WebPagetest will better be able to paint a more complete performance picture.
Want to get involved? Leave a comment or participate in the thread on the Google+ Web Performance community.