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Performance Testing Comes Back With Boomerang

By Craig Buckler

Yahoo’s Boomerang is one of the most interesting and innovative projects I’ve discovered recently. Developers often test the performance of pages and scripts using tools such as Firebug and YSlow. The tools can typically measure load times and latency to ensure your pages remain responsive.

Unfortunately, you can never be certain your lab testing represents conditions in the real world. You might be using Chrome on a new Mac Book connected to a 100Mb broadband pipe, but what if the majority of your users are sitting on the other side of the world using IE4 on Windows 98 with a dial-up connection? (OK, it’s unlikely, but you get the idea!)

Enter Boomerang — a new Yahoo JavaScript project which measures response times experienced by actual users. The tool can be used to measure page load times, bandwidth, latency, Ajax calls, widget load times, and more. The collected data is passed back to a single beacon URL on your server where it can be stored and analyzed.

You should note that Boomerang isn’t an install-and-go solution like YSlow — you need to define your own testing parameters, storage and reports. However, I suspect easy-to-use hosted versions of the application will appear in the near future.

Boomerang is a beta, but it’s free and available to use now. For more information, read the Boomerang documentation, download the files, or browse the project at github.

Would you find Boomerang useful? Will you try it on your systems?

Meet the author
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler

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