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What You Need to Know about In-browser Monitoring, Part 1

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Posted on December 19th, 2013 by Dean Cole in Tools

In-browser Monitoring

Monitoring your website is not just a preemptive measure

We all know that companies invest a lot of funds and efforts to build up a good image of its products and services. A rock-solid corporate identity could be a great corner stone for gaining and increasing the public trust of your company’s current and prospective clients. Once you have established a good company name, the main goal of the management is to keep that name clean and safe. And they do it, or at least they try to do it the best they can. 

But what happens when your name, your brand and the whole company identity are placed on the Web – just under the lid of a server plugged into the Internet? A place where, a bunch of machines control the performance and availability of your brand name and pretty much decide your company’s future. What happens when the servers you rely on stop working? Or when the end user is unable to buy your product just because of a bad website performance or a broken router?

A couple of years ago I came upon an article where Forrester Research published their research data regarding website performance and speed. They pointed out that if the loading time of the page exceeds more than 2 seconds, the end users are more likely to move to another website. Keep in mind that this data was collected back in 2009. The technologies have developed a lot since then and everything loads much faster now. With each year of technological development, the Internet speed increases and with that - the expectations of the end users go up as well. According to the results of another research by Google, only 250ms difference in the loading time of a specific website is enough to make the end user close the tab.

Considering the above, you could conclude that the performance of your website is extremely important for you and your business and thus - monitoring your web assets is a must and not just a preemptive measure.

The monitoring tools can help not only your engineers but also the decision-makers to keep the reputation of your company safe in the digital world as part of a quality online marketing strategy. This way you achieve higher availability and improve the performance of the HTML code, jpgs, css frames and any other components of your web site.

But, as we already mentioned, the technology is developing with an incredible speed and so has the architecture of the websites. Most websites are no longer just HTML code, text content and jpgs. It is almost impossible to surf a website today which doesn’t have any scripts implemented in it. Most developers now widely use Javascript, AJAX calls, iFrames etc. All these tools provide additional functionalities to the applications, but unfortunately are hard to monitor with most ordinary monitoring tools. But why?

When the end user enters the desired address in the address bar of his browser and clicks "enter", the following happens:

  1. The browser breaks the address to its fundamentals: scheme, host, port, user, pass, path, query, fragment
  2. Then the host must be resolved
  3. If no issue occurs, the browser opens a TCP connection (there is an exchange of certificates in case the connection is secured)
  4. Once the connection is established, the browser sends a request to the server, as the request depends on the type of the protocol (request header)
  5. Then the browser receives a reply from the server split in two – response header and content.
  6. As soon as the browser gets the content starts visualizing it (the visualization includes re-creating of the content as any of the implemented scripts requirements are observed accordingly.)

The good news is that all these steps are executed with the blink of an eye and the end user gets the results as soon as the page is completely loaded in front of him. However, the implemented scripts in the content are impossible for monitoring with the ordinary monitoring tools because in their essence, the traditional monitoring tools are scripts programmed to execute the steps above without having the possibility to visualize the received from the server content. Why? Simply because they do not have an engine (as the browser has) which to de-compile the received content.

All this should not make you think that the traditional monitoring tools are not effective. Of course they are. It just depends on what you are using them for.

And when the situation requires monitoring of a website full of scripts, the best solution is In-browser monitoring.

In Part 2 I will explain to you how the in-browser monitoring works and how it can be of help to you.

Dean Cole

Loves the good music, sports and the Boston Celtics. Looks on motivation as the main key to success and believes that hard work always pays off. Account Manager at WebSitePulse

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