Chrome Extension of the Week: Speed Tracer


Anyone can benchmark a Web browser. While the overall validity of any given browser test can vary, in terms of how well it actually indicates a browser's average performance, there are nevertheless a ton of different ways to approximate your browser's rendering speeds. And not only can you run these tools across different versions of a single browser--you can use the benchmarks to compare competing browsers to determine which is really the best combination of speed and features for you.

The fun doesn't stop there, however. A new test is entering the fray that allows you to directly measure all the bits and pieces of any Web App on the, well, Web. It's Chrome-specific, as it's developed by Google itself, but the Speed Tracer extension is chock-full of useful measurements for all sorts of potential stopgaps that could  impact a typical Web app: JavaScript parsing and execution,  CSS style recalculation and selector matching, DOM event handling, and network resource loading, to name a few.

As you might expect, this extension is primarily geared toward developers--I can't envision that an average person would have much need to know just how many milliseconds it takes to load a random piece of JavaScript in any given page. However, it is kind of neat to see just how and when events are loaded. As well, an easy-to-interpret chart--the "sluggishness graph"--gives you a quick visual indication of when any given Web app starts grinding to a halt.

Of course, since Google's search index now takes site speed into account when generating the prominence of a page's listing on its search results, tools like Speed Tracer have become even more important in the overall Web development picture. And if you're really hardcore, you can use this tool to compare different site iterations across a wide span of time to see just how new improvements and upgrades help or harm your favorite Web apps.

Maximum PC picks one new Chrome extension as its favorite of the week each... week. Have a nifty extension that you can't live without? Twitter David Murphy @acererak with your latest suggestions.

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