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Category: WebXPRT 2017

Glimpses of the next WebXPRT

Development work on the next version of WebXPRT is well underway, and we think it’s a good time to offer a glimpse of what’s to come.

We’ve updated the photo-related workloads with new images and are experimenting with adding a new task to the Organize Album workload. The task utilizes ConvNetJS, a JavaScript library designed for training neural networks within the browser itself, to assign classifications to a set of images. It’s an example of the type of integrated deep learning tasks that will be showing up in all sorts of devices in the years to come.

We’re also testing an additional task in the Local Notes workload using Tesseract.js, a popular OCR (optical character recognition) engine. Our scenario uses OCR technology to scan images of purchase receipts and gather relevant information.

We’re testing these new tasks now, and will include them only once we’re confident that they produce consistent and reliable results without extending the benchmark’s runtime unnecessarily.  Consequently, the next WebXPRT might contain variations of these tasks, or other new technologies altogether. We mention them now to offer some insight into the types of workload enhancements that we’re considering.

We’ve been working hard on the new WebXPRT UI as well. The image below shows the new start page from an early development build. We’re still making adjustments, so the final product will probably differ, but you do get a sense of the new UI’s clean look.

WebXPRT screen shot

As we’ve said before, we’re committed to making sure that WebXPRT runs in most browsers and produces results that are useful for comparing web browsing performance across a wide variety of devices. We appreciate the feedback we’ve gotten so far, and are happy to receive more. Do you have ideas for the next WebXPRT? Let us know!


Decisions, decisions

Back in April, we shared some of our initial ideas for a new version of WebXPRT, and work on the new benchmark is underway. Any time we begin the process of updating one of the XPRT benchmarks, one of the first decisions we face is how to improve workload content so it better reflects the types of technology average consumers use every day. Since benchmarks typically have a life cycle of two to four years, we want the benchmark to be relevant for at least the next couple of years.

For example, WebXPRT contains two photo-related workloads, Photo Effects and Organize Album. Photo Effects applies a series of effects to a set of photos, and Organize Album uses facial recognition technology to analyze a set of photos. In both cases, we want to use photos that represent the most relevant combination of image size, resolution, and data footprint possible. Ideally, the resulting image sizes and resolutions should differentiate processing speed on the latest systems, but not at the expense of being able to run reasonably on most current devices. We also have to confirm that the photos aren’t so large as to impact page load times unnecessarily.

The way this strategy works in practice is that we spend time researching hardware and operating system market share. Given that phones are the cameras that most people use, we look at them to help define photo characteristics. In 2017, the most widespread mobile OS is Android, and while reports vary depending on the metric used, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S7 are at or near the top of global mobile market share. For our purposes, the data tells us that choosing photo sizes and resolutions that mirror those of the Galaxy line is a good start, and a good chunk of Android users are either already using S7-generation technology, or will be shifting to new phones with that technology in the coming year. So, for the next version of WebXPRT, we’ll likely use photos that represent the real-life environment of an S7 user.

I hope that provides a brief glimpse into the strategies we use to evaluate workload content in the XPRT benchmarks. Of course, since the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community is an open development community, we’d love to hear your comments or suggestions!


Thinking ahead to WebXPRT 2017

A few months ago, Bill discussed our intention to update WebXPRT this year. Today, we want to share some initial ideas for WebXPRT 2017 and ask for your input.

Updates to the workloads provide an opportunity to increase the relevance and value of WebXPRT in the years to come. Here are a few of the ideas we’re considering:

  • For the Photo Enhancement workload, we can increase the data sizes of pictures. We can also experiment with additional types of photo enhancement such as background/foreground subtraction, collage creation, or panoramic/360-degree image viewing.
  • For the Organize Album workload, we can explore machine learning workloads by incorporating open source JavaScript libraries into web-based inferencing tests.
  • For the Local Notes workload, we’re investigating the possibility of leveraging natural-brain libraries for language processing functions.
  • For a new workload, we’re investigating the possibility of using online 3D modeling applications such as Tinkercad.

For the UI, we’re considering improvements to features like the in-test progress bars and individual subtest selection. We’re also planning to update the UI to make it visually distinct from older versions.

Throughout this process, we want to be careful to maintain the features that have made WebXPRT our most popular tool, with more than 141,000 runs to date. We’re committed to making sure that it runs quickly and simply in most browsers and produces results that are useful for comparing web browsing performance across a wide variety of devices.

Do you have feedback on these ideas or suggestions for browser technologies or test scenarios that we should consider for WebXPRT 2017? Are there existing features we should ditch? Are there elements of the UI that you find especially useful or would like to see improved? Please let us know. We want to hear from you and make sure that we’re crafting a performance tool that continues to meet your needs.


TouchXPRT’s future

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that we’ve been reviewing each part of the XPRT portfolio. If you missed our discussions of HDXPRT, BatteryXPRT, WebXPRT, and CrXPRT, we encourage you to check them out and send us any thoughts you may have. This week, we continue that series by discussing the state of TouchXPRT and what we see down the road for it in 2017.

We released TouchXPRT 2016, an app for evaluating the performance of Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile devices, last February. We built the app by porting TouchXPRT 2014 performance workloads to the new Universal Windows App format, which allows a single app package to run on PCs, phones, tablets, and even consoles.

TouchXPRT 2016 installation is quick and easy, and the test completes in under 15 minutes on most devices. The app runs tests based on five everyday tasks (Beautify Photos, Blend Photos, Convert Videos for Sharing, Create Music Podcast, and Create Slideshow from Photos). It measures how long your device takes to complete each task, produces results for each scenario, and gives you an overall score.

As we think about the path forward for TouchXPRT, we’re aware that many expect 2017 to be a year of significant change in the Windows world, with two updates scheduled for release. Microsoft is slated to release the Windows 10 Creators Update (Build 1704) in April, and a subsequent version of Windows codenamed Redstone 3 may arrive this fall. Many tech observers believe that the Creators Update will introduce new creativity and gaming features, along with a UI upgrade named Project NEON. Major foundational shifts in the OS’s structure are more likely to appear with Redstone 3. At this point, quite a lot is still up in the air, but we’ll be following developments closely.

As we learn more about upcoming changes, we’ll have the opportunity to reevaluate TouchXPRT workloads and determine the best way to incorporate new technologies. Virtual reality, 3D, and 4K are especially exciting, but it’s too soon to know how we might incorporate them in a future version of TouchXPRT.

Because TouchXPRT 2016 continues to run well on a wide range of Windows 10 devices, we think it’s best to keep supporting the current version until we get a better idea of what’s in store for Windows.

If you have any thoughts on the future of Windows performance testing, please let us know!


WebXPRT in 2017

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the future of HDXPRT and BatteryXPRT. This week, we’re discussing what’s in store for WebXPRT in 2017.

WebXPRT is our most popular tool. Manufacturers, developers, consumers, and media outlets in more than 350 cities and 57 countries have run WebXPRT over 113,000 times to date. The benchmark runs quickly and simply in most browsers and produces easy-to-understand results that are useful for comparing web browsing performance across a wide variety of devices and browsers. People love the fact that WebXPRT runs on almost any platform that has a web browser, from PCs to phones to game consoles.

More people are using WebXPRT in more places and in more ways than ever before. It’s an unquestioned success, but we think this is a good time to make it even better by beginning work on WebXPRT 2017. Any time change comes to a popular product, there’s a risk that faithful fans will lose the features and functionality they’ve grown to love. Relevant workloads, ease of use, and extensive compatibility have always been the core components of WebXPRT’s success, so we want to reassure users that we’re committed to maintaining all of those in future versions.

Some steps in the WebXPRT 2017 process are straightforward, such as the need to reassess the existing workload lineup and update content to reflect advances in commonly used technologies. Other steps, such as introducing new workloads to test emerging browser technologies, may be tricky to implement, but could offer tremendous value in the months and years ahead.

Are there test scenarios or browser technologies you would like to see in WebXPRT 2017, or tests you think we should get rid of? Please let us know. We want to hear from you and make sure that we’re crafting a performance tool that continues to meet your needs.


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