Website performance – best practice to improve

Website performance comes in various flavours – but where to start with improvements? How to improve the performance? What are best practices to follow?

Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) talks in a blogpost about “An engineer’s guide to optimization“. Tony basically identified 5 steps to follow.

Step 1: Identify the metric. 

Identify a scenario worth being optimized – means it moves a business metric. If – after all thinking and crunching – you’re not able to identify a scenario with a clear relationship between the optimization and any business metric you should look for more pressing problems first – and revisit the performance issue later.

Step 2: Measure the metric.

After you’ve identified the metric – establish a repeatable benchmark of this scenario / metric. Include this metric measurement into your continuous integration / delivery pipelines and watch out for regressions. First, start with synthetic benchmarks and later include the real world (Real User Monitoring).

Step 3: Identify the theoretical optimum of your metric.

Think about your scenario and create a best-best-best-case. What would be the benefit, the performance maximum to gain out of the scenario. Given everything works really well, what would be the top-performance figure?

Step 4: Approach your optimium.

Identify the bottlenecks preventing you to reach the optimum. Work on these bottlenecks – start with the biggest impact first. Don’t stop optimizing until you reach a point where you have to invest more than you benefit.

Step 5: Profit from your achievements!

Realistic case study on agile development at large scale

A Practical Approach to Large-Scale Agile Development” by Gary Gruver, Mike Young and Pat Fulghum is a real-world example on how scaling of agile software development really works in a huge software producing organisation.

A Practical Approach to Large-Scale Agile Development

The authors describe in an easy-to-read language the journey of the HP firmware organisation starting in 2008 and taking around 3 years with a clear goal in mind: “10x developer productivity improvement”.

In the beginning they were stuck with a waterfall planning process with a huge planning organisation and not being able to move in software development as fast as business expected. A quick summary of activities showed that in the beginning the organization was spending 25% of developer time in planning sessions to plan the next years’ releases. Only 5% was spent on innovation. Nowadays, after acomplishing the 10x goal, 40% of developer’s time is spent on innovation.

The book highlights the relevance of a right mix of agile technologies with a good approach in software architecture and organisational measures to form a successful team of people striving for common goals. A fascinating read!

Most striving is the unemotional view on agile and how to apply it. They purposefully decided not to have self-organizing teams. So, agile is broken? Can’t be applied in such an environment? Not at all! The authors give good reason for not applying all agile patterns from the books – and it is working.

Clean Code Developer Initiative – a structured learning way to skill improvement

“Clean Code – A Handbook of Agile Software Craftmanship” by Robert C. Martin is a classical reading for software developers. Great, but how do you get the spirit he described into the heads of your whole software development organization? The Clean Code Developer Initiative by Ralf Westphal and Stefan Lieser drafts an interesting way to improve the skills of your software developers with the spirit of Uncle Bob Martin’s book in mind.

The Clean Code Developer Initiative (CCDI) proposes a grade based system with color coding. It borrows concepts from game design by introducing a level concept. Entry level is marked with black and levels up via red, orange, yellow, green, blue to white.

For each level there are principles and practices listed which a software developer – or a whole department – should follow to get to the next level.

Urs Enzler from planetgeek.ch produced a nice Clean Code Cheat Sheet – it’s worth a look.

Clean Code Cheat sheet

There is a nice poster available by “unclassified software development“. It’s even possible to print it out in A0 format – huge!

Clean Code Developer Poster

The whole level of a developer can be shown through wristbands. Allow them to be proud on their achievements!

Clean Code Developer wristbands

I personally haven’t tried the effort to introduce the principles of Clean Code into a software development department – but it looks like it’s a feasible effort. Accompanied by trainings and some team events, it should be possible to appeal to the developer’s honor – and improve your software quality standards.