Update to Chrome 73 and infrastructure upgrade

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After several months of intensive work (and a new coffee machine), we are pleased to announce the next update of our service: June 13th (03:00 AM UTC). It will include an update to Chrome 73, a revised access management policy for detailed reports and a technical architecture revamped to meet the growing needs of our ever-increasing number of customers.

Chrome 73

Dareboost’s performance test probes are based on Chrome browser. Chrome development team releases a new major version every 6 weeks. To offer more stable results in our performance tests, and to provide relevant and actionable data to the customers of our performance monitoring solution, our Chrome instances are not automatically updated. We control the update cycle in order to limit its frequency and monitor the impact, allowing us to share them with our our customers beforehand.

As we upgrade to Chrome 73, get ready to see changes in the performance results of some of your web pages. Here are some notable differences we have observed:

  • New, more targeted favicon loading policy (link rel=”icon” and related), resulting for some sites in a decrease in the number of files loaded (fewer requests and smaller measured page weight).
  • The manifest.json files, if defined in the source code of the pages, will now be loaded and therefore visible in your waterfalls.
  • Partial Content responses (HTTP 206 code, often used for streaming content, such as videos) will be lighter than before for media that are not auto-playing (and for which the preload policy is Chrome default, i.e. preload=”metadata”).
  • We also observed improvements on lazy-loading for specific JS libraries. Some images included in containers hidden with CSS were previously loaded unnecessarily. With this new version of Chrome, they will properly benefit from the lazy-loading behavior.
  • Chrome supports TLS 1.3 (since Chrome 70). HTTPS Websites also supporting TLS 1.3 will now be tester loaded using TLS 1.3 rather than TLS 1.2 (with potential impact on TTFB)
  • Other changes, more subtle, also come with this new version of Chrome and can therefore lead to changes in performance results.

The User Agent strings (HTTP header) will automatically be updated in your configurations with Chrome upgrade on our infrastructure, except for the “Custom devices” you may have created.

Besides the changes related to Chrome, we also took advantage of this update to improve our end-of-load mechanisms during performance tests.

Web pages that make extensive use of blocking Javascript, completely hogging the browser for a significant period of time, will now be better managed. Dareboost will wait, up to 5 seconds, for JavaScript to finish such processing, before considering it’s a problem and so interrupting the performance test. The pages concerned by this additional waiting mechanism are very rare (fortunately, given the impacts on the user experience in such cases!), but the evolution was still required to stabilize their results.

As usual, our customers will benefit from a dedicated event on their Dashboard and monitoring graphs to help them easily identify any changes that may be related to the update.

Reports are private by default

One of Dareboost’s strong points is to offer easy ways to collaborate for the whole web project team. For example, by simply sharing reports directly through their URLs.

Up until now, reports were publicly available by default, so you could share them with anyone, even if they were not part of your Dareboost account. An option on our advanced settings form would allow you to define the generated reports as private. This “private” option was automatically enabled when using the basic authentication option (.htaccess) which, by definition, contains sensitive information.

As of June 13th, the new reports will be private by default for all our customers. You will continue to be able to share your report by its URL among users of the same Dareboost main account. To share a report with an “external” collaborator, we have introduced a new one-click action, making a report publicly available:

public/private option screenshot from a report

Important: any page monitor created after June 13th will adopt this behavior. The generated reports will be private by default. An option will be available to maintain the current behavior (monitoring will then produce public reports).

On existing monitors, access policy will not be modified. If you do not need public reports, please activate the “private reports” option on your monitors as of now.

A more robust and resilient architecture

As our customers can attest, there are very few incidents on our service. Nevertheless, we have decided to invest heavily in the design and implementation of a new architecture to ensure that we are better prepared for the challenges presented by our business growth and the ever-increasing number of websites being monitored.

One of our first incentives was to strengthen Dareboost’s resilience to network or hardware incidents that can occur on our infrastructure (IBM Cloud). As a consequence, we have migrated all our applications (excluding test probes) to the same Region (Frankfurt), which gives us the opportunity to work on 3 different datacenters (close enough to guarantee the necessary performance, and far enough so that the datacenters are independent). This choice is also the guarantee of an European location for all the data we store.

In a few weeks, all our application components will be redundant.
Interruptions of service are already very rare and should therefore become completely exceptional. We will algo gain in agility by simplifying our deployment processes.

A service interruption is expected during the switch to this new version of Dareboost (the IP addresses of our probes will not change), but should be limited to a few dozen minutes. The intervention is scheduled for 5:20 a.m. Paris time. (03:20 AM UTC).

As always, our team is available to answer your questions.

More than ever, Dareboost is evolving to better serve its customers and free users. We are excited to see this new milestone come to life, and lay the foundation for accelerating our growth and innovation. All this would not be possible without the constant trust of our prescribers and customers. Thank you.
Rendez-vous in a few weeks for new announcements!

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