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An early preview of the new WebXPRT 4 results viewer!

Last week, we shared some new details about the changes we’re likely to make in WebXPRT 4, and a rough target date for publishing a preview build. This week, we’re excited to share an early preview of the new results viewer tool that we plan to release in conjunction with WebXPRT 4. We hope the tool will help testers and analysts access the wealth of WebXPRT test results in our database in an efficient, productive, and enjoyable way. We’re still ironing out many of the details, so some aspects of what we’re showing today might change, but we’d like to give you an idea of what to expect.

The screenshot below shows the tool’s default display. In this example, the viewer displays over 650 sample results—from a wide range of device types—that we’re currently using as placeholder data. The viewer will include several sorting and filtering options, such as device type, hardware specs such as browser type and processor vendor, the source of the result, etc.

Each vertical bar in the graph represents the overall score of single test result, and the graph presents the scores in order from lowest to highest. To view an individual result in detail, the user simply hovers over and selects the bar representing the result. The bar turns dark blue, and the dark blue banner at the bottom of the viewer displays details about that result.

In the example above, the banner shows the overall score (250) and the score’s percentile rank (85th) among the scores in the current display. In the final version of the viewer, the banner will also display the device name of the test system, along with basic hardware disclosure information. Selecting the Run details button will let users see more about the run’s individual workload scores.

We’re still working on a way for users to pin or save specific runs. This would let users easily find the results that interest them, or possibly select multiple runs for a side-by-side comparison.

We’re excited about this new tool, and we look forward to sharing more details here in the blog as we get closer to taking it live. If you have any questions or comments about the results viewer, please feel free to contact us!

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

Investigating the possibility of WebXPRT user accounts

One of our goals during the ongoing WebXPRT 4 development process is to be as responsive as possible to user feedback, and we want to emphasize that it’s not too late to send us your ideas. Until we finalize the details for each workload and complete the code work for the preview build, we still have quite a bit of flexibility around adding new features.

Just this week, a community member raised the possibility of a WebXPRT 4 feature that would enable user-specific test ID numbers or accounts. One possible implementation of the idea would allow a user to sign up for a WebXPRT test account as an individual or on behalf of their organization. The test accounts would be both free and optional; you could continue to run the benchmark without an account, but running it with an account would let you save and view your test history. Another implementation option we are considering would let users generate a permanent user ID number for themselves or their organization. They could then use that number to tag and search for their automated test runs in our database, without having to log into an account.

Our biggest question at the moment is whether our user base would be interested in WebXPRT user accounts or test IDs. If this concept piques your interest, or you have suggestions for implementation, please let us know!

Justin

Improving WebXPRT-related tools and resources

As we move forward with the WebXPRT 4 development process, we’re also working on ways to enhance the value of WebXPRT beyond simply updating the benchmark. Our primary goal is to expand and improve the WebXPRT-related tools and resources we offer at WebXPRT.com, starting with a new results viewer.

Currently, users can view WebXPRT results on our site two primary ways, each of which has advantages and limitations.

The first way is the WebXPRT results viewer, which includes hundreds of PT-curated performance scores from a wide range of trusted sources and devices. Users can sort entries by device type, device name, device model, overall score, date of publication, and source. The viewer also includes a free-form filter for quick, targeted searches. While the results viewer contains a wealth of information, it does not give users a way to use graphs or charts for viewing and comparing multiple results at once. Another limitation of the current results viewer is that it offers no easy way for users to access the additional data about the test device and the subtest scores that we have for many entries.

The second way to view WebXPRT results on our site is the WebXPRT Processor Comparison Chart. The chart uses horizontal bar graphs to compare test scores from the hundreds of published results in our database, grouped by processor type. Users can click the average score for a processor to view all the WebXPRT results we currently have for that processor. The visual aspect of the chart and its automated “group by processor type” feature are very useful, but it lacks the sorting and filtering capabilities of the viewer, and navigating to the details of individual tests takes multiple clicks.

In the coming months, we’ll be working to combine the best features of the results viewer and the comparison chart into a single powerful WebXPRT results database tool. We’ll also be investigating ways to add new visual aids, navigation controls, and data-handling capabilities to that tool. We want to provide a tool that helps testers and analysts access the wealth of WebXPRT test information in our database in an efficient, productive, and enjoyable way. If you have ideas or comments about what you’d like to see in a new WebXPRT results viewing tool, please let us know!

Justin

Round 2 of the WebXPRT 4 survey is now open

In May, we surveyed longtime WebXPRT users regarding the types of changes they would like to see in a WebXPRT 4. We sent the survey to journalists at several tech press outlets, and invited our blog readers to participate as well. We received some very helpful feedback. As we explore new possibilities for WebXPRT 4, we’ve decided to open an updated version of the survey. We’ve adjusted the questions a bit based on previous feedback and added some new ones, so we invite you to respond even if you participated in the original survey.

To do so, please send your answers to the following questions to benchmarkxprtsupport@principledtechnologies.com before July 31.

  • Do you think WebXPRT 3’s selection of workload scenarios is representative of modern web tasks?
  • How do you think WebXPRT compares to other common browser-based benchmarks, such as JetStream, Speedometer, and Octane?
  • Would you like to see a workload based on WebAssembly (WASM) in WebXPRT 4? Why or why not?
  • Would you like to see a workload based on Single Page Application (SPA) technology in WebXPRT 4? Why or why not?
  • Would you like to see a workload based on Motion UI in WebXPRT 4? Why or why not?
  • Would you like to see us include any other web technologies in additional workloads?
  • Are you happy with the WebXPRT 3 user interface? If not, what UI changes would you like to see?
  • Have you ever experienced significant connection issues when testing with WebXPRT?
  • Given its array of workloads, do you think the WebXPRT runtime is reasonable? Would you mind if the average runtime increased slightly?
  • Would you like to see us change any other aspects of WebXPRT 3?


If you would like to share your thoughts on any topics that the questions above do not cover, please include those in your response. We look forward to hearing from you!

Justin

A huge milestone for XPRT runs and downloads!

We’re excited to have recently passed an important milestone: one million XPRT runs and downloads! Most importantly, that huge number does not just reflect past successes. As the chart below illustrates, XPRT use has grown steadily over the years. In 2021, we record, on average, more XPRT runs and downloads in one month (23,395) than we recorded in the entire first year we started tracking these stats (17,051).

We reached one million runs and downloads in about seven and a half years. At the current rate, we’ll reach two million in roughly three and a half more years. With WebXPRT 4 on the way, there’s a good chance we can reach that mark even sooner!

As always, we’re grateful for all the testers that have helped us reach this milestone. If you have any questions or comments about using any of the XPRTs to test your gear, let us know!

Justin

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