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Despite all the changes in tools and diagnostic technologies in the past few years, Web application performance-tuning still relies on basic trouble-shooting skills and simple common sense.
This afternoon, in a busy hallway of the Moscone conference center at JavaOne, I got mixed up and got into the wrong line: instead of entering the "Web Application Stress Testing" session, I attended "Top Ten Ways to Botch Enterprise Java Scalability and Reliability" session given by Cameron Purdy.
Cameron's presentation was to-the-point, and very effective, as he mixed witty quotations from leading programmers, writers, engineers and philosophers with his humor and personal experiences. I enjoyed the session quite a bit since it was obvious that he had come across real-world and complex Web application tuning problems before.
The ten ways of botching were all common-sense ways such as: know your requirements, use common sense and assume nothing—take things with a grain of salt, or know where your application's bottlenecks are. This was for sure the best technical, real-life session I have attended in the past two days.
What I found amazing, however, was that almost exactly three years ago to the day I posted a web-application article on Artima, written with Jeffrey Blake, about my experience with web-application performance tuning. It would seem that nothing has changed in the past three years in about Web application tuning: no silver bullets and no easy ways out, just simple trial and error, hard detective work, and good planning.
A word of comment to Sun and the JavaOne organizers: JavaOne technical sessions are so much more helpful when they are presented by battle-scarred programmers and IT professionals who have been through the real-life drama of programming and solving IT issues. A lecture from a Sun or Java project team leader is simply just that: a lecture filled with theory, overhead slides, and void of real-life experience. I find it extremely valuable to learn from the actual work-experience of others as it helps me avoid problems that they have faced before.
If you feel you discovered any enlightening experience or tip solving a Web application performance problem in the past few years, please feel free to add it to the comments. Who knows, you may end up helping a software engineer solve his or her performance problem on time, and get him or her to go home in time to catch the late-night show.
|Arash Barirani is a developer with a taste for fast software and fast cars. He enjoys reading Artima.com, and likes to comment on questions that have no real answers. His favorite subject area is user interface design and performance bottleneck resolution.|