Sunday, July 19, 2009

Browser Responsiveness Testing

I play a game on Facebook called Hatchlings. Part of the game is going out to other persons Hatchlings nests and finding new eggs. The object is to collect all the eggs available with new ones being released every week or so. Some of the eggs are rare and only come up randomly based on some unknown statistical calculation.

Being the happy web hacker I found that not all player profiles are open to finding eggs but quite a few are open. I made bookmark sets of these open baskets numbering about forty-five per folder so I could gather the eggs and this process led me to wondering which browser could do this process for me faster.

Opening 45 bookmarks at once requires some good computing power but my home PC is an Intel Quad Core Q9650 with 8Gb ram and a 25Mbps connect speed. My PC is also quite optimized.

Here are some of my observations

45 tabs opening

Firefox 3.5.1
  1. Con - Runs in a single instance unless you set up multiple profiles which is PITA
  2. Con - UI becomes unresponsive while the pages are rendering. You can move without experiencing a big responsiveness delay of like 5-10 seconds and.
  3. Con - Running another instance of the browser while the main is loading is impossible
  4. Con - Even after a new browser is open it will not function sometimes for loading a new URL. Sort of like the other instance is preventing it from working.
  5. Pro - Tab views of same domain and path scale together. If you scale the view window all the windows with the same domain and path scale to the same size for easier viewing
  6. Pro -Add Block Plus allows me to not have to see the junk advertising
  7. Pro - Flash Block allows me block Flash from running
  8. Con - View Scaling only allows you to go so small
Safari 4.0.2
  1. Con - View scaling is not bound together and is forgotten between window opens
  2. Con - UI suffers slight non-responsiveness
  3. Con - CPU Utilization is much higher and causes my CPU fan to kick up a notch
  4. Con - No Plugins - AddBlock or FlashBlock
  5. Con - Runs under a single instance which might account for some of the UI non-responsiveness
  6. Pro - All tabs render much faster than the compared Chrome or Firefox
  7. Pro - By far the fastest web page rendering
  1. Pro - Most responsive outer UI. Can be moved around the screen will the tabs are being rendered
  2. Con - "Aw Snap" errors quite often stating that something went wrong while displaying the web page
  3. Con - Error "Script on the page used too much memory. Reload to enable scripts again" Which I checked into and there is a bug report out (support issue reported)
  4. Pro - I can still launch a new browser instance and browse while the other instance is working (or failing)
  5. Pro - Seems to run multiple instances as you open new windows but groups are opened under only one instance (it appears)
  6. Pro - You can rip a tab out from the tab bar to it's own window
Internet Explorer 8.0
  1. Pro - Seems to run multiple instances of the browser (seen in task manager) to provide the browsing and rendering speed
  2. Con - Browser outter UI is not responsive at all till all tabs rendering is completed. You can open a new browser instance but it suffers the same non responsiveness.
  3. Pro - Supports view scaling like Firefox and remembers it between browser sessions
  4. Con - Uses the highest CPU utilization spiking my entire Windows Vista experience
  5. Pro - View Scaling allows you to go very very small.

Experience Summary

While Chrome, Internet Explorer 8 and Safari 4.0.2 seem to be close on par for page rendering time the Safari UI lead in responsiveness even though it runs under a single instance. Note that Safari also seemed to kick my CPU fan up a notch and appeared to use more of the CPU to do it's work.

Of this entire bunch tested all support very similar navigation options of Ctrl+tab to move from tab to tab and Ctrl+W to close a tab and commonly Ctrl+Shift+Tab no navigate back on tab. I like that in all of these Alt+F4 closes the browser.

Firefox's implementation of the screen scaling by domain+path and the fact that it remembers your last preference is better than the others I looked at.

Firefox was the slowest to render all the tabs in all cases.

Safari seems to be the fastest at page rendering but it could be just UI responsiveness that gave me that impression since all but Firefox seemed to close. I would perhaps rank my speed/responsiveness with the following
  1. Safari (best)
  2. Chrome (second)
  3. IE (third)
  4. Firefox (last)
Overall I am still going to use Firefox for my primary work because of plug-in support. It would be good to note that perhaps without the add-ons that Firefox might have worked much for my speed experience.

I'm not a fan of the Chrome UI at all but I do like the ability to rip a tab to it's own window (not sure why I like that ability but I do)

I'm not a fan of how all Microsoft Products seem to be digging a grave by per-suing UI updates to their products that mean the end-user has to re-learn where everything is again and again. I F'n hate that shit..

My overall suprise here is that though I use Safari the least I think it kicked butt overall. If they would implement View a scaling remember then I'd use it all the time and only user Firefox when I'm doing web page development.

Kevin Pirkl

1 comment:

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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