At work, I was tasked to add auto-playing Flash video feeds on the home page of one of our web sites, and I decided that before I do anything I should implement a quick AJAX-driven bandwidth check so that dial-up users aren’t fed a heavy video feed without prior user consent. I threw the test together in a matter of three or four hours, and sent the engineering team an e-mail letting them know that this is new working functionality we can use any time.
The funny thing about the timing is that on the same day another co-worker working on another web site needed the same functionality immediately. To be honest, I overheard talk about this, and so I hoped my contribution would be useful for that project as well. I have no doubt my co-worker could have accomplished the same task, but being able to drop off sharable solutions like this is part of what makes a team environment so valuable.
The Bandwidth Test: What It Is and How it Works
The functionality I’m referring to here is a bandwidth test using AJAX.
(Please excuse the horribly crappy illustration — I had to use Paint.NET as I don’t have Adobe Illustrator installed on my laptop, and then on top of that Live Writer and/or Live Spaces does weird things to the image. Click to enlarge.)
The test is not intended to be exact, but to be an approximation to determine whether your connection is moderately fast or dog slow. But the accuracy of the test gets better the slower the connection is, so a slow connection–which comprises the more vulnerable web audience–will be less likely to have incorrect test results than a higher speed user.
The test is implemented on a site by adding a small, simple ASP.NET tag:
(Add to top of .aspx file:)
<%@ Register Src="~/controls/SpeedTest.ascx" TagPrefix="ajax" TagName="SpeedTest" %>
ExecuteTest (gets/sets bool) true = Adds test script which auto-executes.
false = Doesn’t do anything client-side.
UseCookies (gets/sets bool) true = Disables test execution if the Request already has the assigned cookie.
false = Doesn’t evaluate cookies.
Demo (from a slow cable connection as host): http://www.jondavis.net/CodeProjects/SpeedCheck/SpeedTest.aspx
Question of the Day: How do you scale out the server load of a web site to multiple IIS hosts to improve performance?
If anyone out there is reading this, make your comments known, I will update this post tomorrow. If you’re viewing an RSS feed, follow the article URL.