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Category: Web-based testing

Exploring the WebXPRT 4 results viewer

Now that WebXPRT 4 is live, we want to remind readers about the features of the WebXPRT 4 results viewer. We’re excited about this new tool, which we view as an ongoing project that we will expand and improve over time. The viewer currently has over 100 test results, and we’re just getting started. We’ll continue to actively populate the viewer with the latest PT-curated WebXPRT 4 results for the foreseeable future.

The screenshot below shows the tool’s default display. Each vertical bar in the graph represents the overall score of a single test result, with bars arranged from lowest to highest. To view a single result in detail, the user hovers over a bar until it turns white and a small popup window displays the basic details of the result. Once the user clicks to select the highlighted bar, the bar turns dark blue, and the dark blue banner at the bottom of the viewer displays additional details about that result.

In the example above, the banner shows the overall score (227), the score’s percentile rank (98th) among the scores in the current display, the name of the test device, and basic hardware disclosure information. Users can click the Run info button to see the run’s individual workload scores.

The viewer includes a drop-down menu to quickly filter results by major device type categories, and a tab that allows users to apply additional filtering options, such as browser type, processor vendor, and result source. The screenshot below shows the viewer after I used the device type drop-down filter to select only laptops.

The screenshot below shows the viewer as I use the filter tab to explore additional filter options, such browser type.

The viewer also lets users pin multiple specific runs, which is helpful for making side-by-side comparisons. The screenshot below shows the viewer after I pinned four runs and viewed them on the Pinned runs screen.

The screenshot below shows the viewer after I clicked the Compare runs button: the overall and individual workload scores of the pinned runs appear as a table.

We’re excited about the WebXPRT 4 results viewer, and we want to hear your feedback. Are there features you’d really like to see, or ways we can improve the viewer? Please let us know, and send us your latest test results!

Justin

A note about WebXPRT 4 and Internet Explorer

During some recent internal WebXPRT 4 Preview testing, we discovered that the WebXPRT 4 Preview does not run in Internet Explorer (IE) 11. In fact, before the first workload begins in IE, the WebXPRT 4 built-in WebAssembly (WASM) check fails and produces an error message.

The reason we haven’t tested WebXPRT 4 on IE 11 before now is that Internet Explorer is currently in its end-of-life phase. Microsoft has been removing support for IE 11 in Microsoft 365 and other apps for some time, they did not include the desktop version of IE 11 in Windows 11, and they are removing support for IE 11 in Windows 10 on June 15, 2022. Among Windows users, the most popular browsers are now Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox.

We’re proud that WebXPRT has historically had broad, cross-platform compatibility in almost any browser. However, the modern web is rapidly incorporating powerful tools such as WASM that do not work in older legacy browsers. To maintain the benchmark’s relevance in future years, we need to deprioritize some level of legacy compatibility, and this begins with WebXPRT 4 release.

For the WebXPRT testers who wish to continue testing with IE 11, WebXPRT 3 will remain on our site for the foreseeable future. Barring any further changes from Microsoft, the benchmark should continue to run in existing instances of the Internet Explorer desktop app.

The official WebXPRT 4 launch is approaching, and we hope to announce the release date within the next few weeks! Until that time, we will continue to share the latest updates here in the blog. If you have any questions or comments about WebXPRT 4 or compatibility with legacy browsers, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

The WebXPRT 4 Preview is here!

We’re excited to announce that the WebXPRT 4 Preview is now available! Testers can access the Preview at www.WebXPRT4.com or through a link on WebXPRT.com. The Preview is available to everyone, and testers can now publish scores from Preview build testing. We may still tweak a few things, but will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI and features we do not expect to affect test scores.

Longtime WebXPRT users will notice that the WebXPRT 4 Preview has a new, but familiar, UI. The general process for kicking off both manual and automated tests is the same as with WebXPRT 3, so the transition from WebXPRT 3 to WebXPRT 4 testing should be straightforward. We encourage everyone to visit the XPRT blog for more details about what’s new in this Preview release.

In addition, keep your eye on the blog for more details about the all-new WebXPRT 4 results viewer, which we expect to publish in the very near future. We think WebXPRT testers will enjoy using the viewer to explore our WebXPRT 4 test data!

After you try the WebXPRT 4 Preview, please send us your comments. Thanks and happy testing!

Justin

Here’s what to expect in the WebXPRT 4 Preview

A few months ago, we shared detailed information about the changes we expected to make in WebXPRT 4. We are currently doing internal testing of the WebXPRT 4 Preview build in preparation for releasing it to the public. We want to let our readers know what to expect.

We’ve made some changes since our last update and some of the details we present below could still change before the preview release. However, we are much closer to the final product. Once we release the WebXPRT 4 Preview, testers will be able to publish scores from Preview build testing. We will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI or features that are not expected to affect test scores.

General changes

Some of the non-workload changes we’ve made in WebXPRT 4 relate to our typical benchmark update process.

  • We have updated the aesthetics of the WebXPRT UI to make WebXPRT 4 visually distinct from older versions. We did not significantly change the flow of the UI.
  • We have updated content in some of the workloads to reflect changes in everyday technology, such as upgrading most of the photos in the photo processing workloads to higher resolutions.
  • We have not yet added a looping function to the automation scripts, but are still considering it for the future.
  • We investigated the possibility of shortening the benchmark by reducing the default number of iterations from seven to five, but have decided to stick with seven iterations to ensure that score variability remains acceptable across all platforms.

Workload changes

  • Photo Enhancement. We increased the efficiency of the workload’s Canvas object creation function, and replaced the existing photos with new, higher-resolution photos.
  • Organize Album Using AI. We replaced ConvNetJS with WebAssembly (WASM) based OpenCV.js for both the face detection and image classification tasks. We changed the images for the image classification tasks to images from the ImageNet dataset.
  • Stock Option Pricing. We updated the dygraph.js library.
  • Sales Graphs. We made no changes to this workload.
  • Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan. We replaced ASM.js with WASM for the Notes task and updated the WASM-based Tesseract version for the OCR task.
  • Online Homework. In addition to the existing scenario which uses four Web Workers, we have added a scenario with two Web Workers. The workload now covers a wider range of Web Worker performance, and we calculate the score by using the combined run time of both scenarios. We also updated the typo.js library.

Experimental workloads

As part of the WebXPRT 4 development process, we researched the possibility of including two new workloads: a natural language processing (NLP) workload, and an Angular-based message scrolling workload. After much testing and discussion, we have decided to not include these two workloads in WebXPRT 4. They will be good candidates for us to add as experimental WebXPRT 4 workloads in 2022.

The release timeline

Our goal is to publish the WebXPRT 4 preview build by December 15th, which will allow testers to publish scores in the weeks leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2022. We will provide more detailed information about the GA timeline here in the blog as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about the details we’ve shared above, please feel free to ask!

Justin

Thinking about experimental WebXPRT workloads in 2022

As the WebXPRT 4 development process has progressed, we’ve started to discuss the possibility of offering experimental WebXPRT 4 workloads in 2022. These would be optional workloads that test cutting-edge browser technologies or new use cases. The individual scores for the experimental workloads would stand alone, and would not factor in the WebXPRT 4 overall score.

WebXPRT testers would be able to run the experimental workloads one of two ways: by manually selecting them on the benchmark’s home screen, or by adjusting a value in the WebXPRT 4 automation scripts.

Testers would benefit from experimental workloads by being able to compare how well certain browsers or systems handle new tasks (e.g., new web apps or AI capabilities). We would benefit from fielding workloads for large-scale testing and user feedback before we commit to including them as core WebXPRT workloads.

Do you have any general thoughts about experimental workloads for browser performance testing, or any specific workloads that you’d like us to consider? Please let us know.

Justin

A clearer picture of WebXPRT 4

The WebXPRT 4 development process is far enough along that we’d like to share more about changes we are likely to make and a rough target date for publishing a preview build. While some of the details below will probably change, this post should give readers a good sense of what to expect.

General changes

Some of the non-workload changes in WebXPRT 4 relate to our typical benchmark update process, and a few result directly from feedback we received from the WebXPRT tech press survey.

  • We will update the aesthetics of the WebXPRT UI to make WebXPRT 4 visually distinct from older versions. We do not anticipate significantly changing the flow of the UI.
  • We will update content in some of the workloads to reflect changes in everyday technology. For instance, we will upgrade most of the photos in the photo processing workloads to higher resolutions.
  • In response to a request from tech press survey respondents, we are considering adding a looping function to the automation scripts.
  • We are investigating the possibility of shortening the benchmark by reducing the default number of iterations from seven to five. We will only make this change if we can ensure that five iterations produce consistently low score variance.

Changes to existing workloads

  • Photo Enhancement. This workload applies three effects to two photos each (six photos total). It tests HTML5 Canvas, Canvas 2D, and JavaScript performance. The only change we are considering is adding higher-resolution photos.
  • Organize Album Using AI. This workload currently uses the ConvNetJS neural network library to complete two tasks: (1) organizing five images and (2) classifying the five images in an album. We are planning to replace ConvNetJS with WebAssembly (WASM) for both tasks and are considering upgrading the images to higher resolutions.
  • Stock Option Pricing. This workload calculates and displays graphic views of a stock portfolio using Canvas, SVG, and dygraph.js. The only change we are considering is combining it with the Sales Graphs workload (below).
  • Sales Graphs. This workload provides a web-based application displaying multiple views of sales data. Sales Graphs exercises HTML5 Canvas and SVG performance. The only change we are considering is combining it with the Stock Option Pricing workload (above).
  • Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan. This workload uses ASM.js to sync notes, extract text from a scanned receipt using optical character recognition (OCR), and add the scanned text to a spending report. We are planning to replace ASM.js with WASM for the Notes task and with WASM-based Tesseract for the OCR task.
  • Online Homework. This workload uses regex, arrays, strings, and Web Workers to review DNA and spell-check an essay. We are not planning to change this workload.

Possible new workloads

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP). We are considering the addition of an NLP workload using ONNX Runtime and/or TensorFlowJS. The workload would use Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) to answer questions about a given text. Similar use cases are becoming more prevalent in conversational bot systems, domain-specific document search tools, and various other educational applications.
  • Message Scrolling. We are considering developing a new workload that would use an Angular or React.js to scroll through hundreds of messages. We’ll share more about this possible workload as we firm up the details.

The release timeline

We hope to publish a WebXPRT 4 preview build in the second half of November, with a general release before the end of the year. If it looks as though that timeline will change significantly, we’ll provide an update here in the blog as soon as possible.

We’re very grateful for all the input we received during the WebXPRT 4 planning process. If you have any questions about the details we’ve shared above, please feel free to ask!

Justin

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