WebPageTest and Catchpoint: Our Year Building and Growing with the Community
WebPageTest recently completed a year as part of the Catchpoint family. Jeena James, General Manager, looks back at the highlights and learnings so far, and ahead at what's next.
WebPageTest recently completed a year as part of the Catchpoint family (yes, we acquired a company during the pandemic). In the past twelve months, we have built an entire WebPageTest team to power the developer experience around web performance. We’ve also launched initial premium experiences on the platform.
Our developer community continues to contribute to the beloved open-source version, as well as share best practices with other users. Most significantly, w_e have not broken anything (always a good sign)._
There is no formula for making acquisitions work and there’s really no timeline by which you can determine if one is successful or not. I’ve experienced both great and not-so-great acquisitions in the past, and so have our founders.
What sets the greats apart, is when both companies make a conscious decision to come together to create better access and deliver holistic value to their customers. It cannot be about just the words you say during an announcement. Instead, it’s about the effort you put in every day to enhance the credibility that the companies have separately built with their customers and users. It’s been remarkable to see that evolution and growth this year among Catchpoint customers, as well as WebPageTest users and the open-source community at large.
All this would not have been possible if it were not for the developers and performance specialists around the world who are part of our community. You all trust our platform to run millions of performance tests every month and provide you with comprehensive insights that help you build user experiences that matter. We can’t thank you enough!
As we look back on this last year and move along to the next stage of our journey, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of our key milestones. It has been a phenomenal year of WebPageTest and Catchpoint coming together. We have been privileged to build on our ongoing commitment to the developer ecosystem.
Over the next few days, you’ll also get to hear from Mehdi Daoudi, Catchpoint CEO and co-founder, Drit Suljoti, Catchpoint CTO and co-founder, and Tim Kadlec, Director of Developer Experience Engineering, about their experiences as well.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the highlights and learnings.
Pat’s basement is real
I don’t think we can talk about WebPageTest without talking about Patrick Meenan’s basement. The basement is real and so are the devices, browsers, and network connections where Pat, the creator and founder of WebPageTest, spent years building the platform that millions of developers around the world have grown to love, rely on, and build on top of.
After the WebPageTest acquisition announcement late 2020, we started carefully migrating the setup out of the basement, as well as adding additional devices and browser support. Today, we have global coverage, with real browser and network connection experience that can help any developer in any part of the world (including mainland China) test websites and measure performance confidently.
“It has been incredible to see WebPageTest turn into a real production service with highly redundant servers and auto-scaling test infrastructure that is consistent globally, and real investment being put into its development and operation.
The most visible evolution was around the UI redesign, which was very refreshing to see, but I'm particularly excited about the investment that went into building the iOS simulator support to get scalable real Safari testing. As more of the dev tooling becomes Chrome-centric, huge volumes of web traffic still come from Safari on iOS, so it is important to provide that visibility.”
Patrick Meenan, Creator of WebPageTest
Performance measurement is integral to web experiences, and developer needs are integral to building WebPageTest
Your company has a choice as to which tool, third-party tag, or framework to use when developing your website. Similarly, your users have alternatives to choose from when it comes to having uninterrupted and delightful online experiences, whether they are shopping, reading content, or banking online. Therefore, measuring the performance impact of a website should not be complex or an afterthought.
Whenever prioritization discussions have been on the table, the team behind WebPageTest relies on our guiding principle: listen and truly comprehend what our users are asking from a performance platform. The answer: drive efficiency, increase productivity, and provide actionable intelligence to help teams build great digital experiences on the web.
Over the last year, this approach has helped us launch features and platform experiences for engineering teams from code to consumers. We dug into the performance metrics for Google Core Web Vitals so developers can accurately pinpoint optimization areas to improve SEO and user experience. Leading companies around the world like The Telegraph, the UK’s leading news site, continue to share best practices around measuring and fixing issues with WebPageTest and Core Web Vitals.
We also launched a host of other features and UI changes along the way. Excitingly, we continue to see significant growth with millions of users - both new and existing - who trust WebPageTest to help them get to the bottom of webperf insights.
“I'd have to say that the thing that I'm most proud of over the last year is that the transition to the new production infrastructure and account management was completely seamless for existing WebPageTest users. There were a LOT of teams involved across Catchpoint and they all pulled together to make it happen. This extends into the business side of things where commercial services have been layered on top of the free offering without reducing the value that the development community gets out of using the free features day-in and day-out.”
Patrick Meenan, Creator of WebPageTest
WebPageTest API – an ongoing project
In April, 2021, we made the WebPageTest API publicly available for anyone to run performance tests on WebPageTest more programmatically. It also allows teams to integrate testing and results seamlessly into their DevOps workflow, thanks to the following features:
- Use NPM wrapper for NodeJS to easily integrate with your existing CI/CD tooling.
- Run tests within VSCode to quickly test the impact of changes right from your code editor.
- Check code changes with Github Actions and set performance budgets.
- Debug, triage, and collaborate with your teams within Slack.
- Build visualization dashboards with Google Sheets, Grafana, and more.
It has been inspiring to see our API users building more integrated experiences using the API to improve user experience not only for themselves, but also to scale to their customers and make it available to the community at large.
With the help of the WebPageTest API, a leading CPG company has been able to look at the performance metrics across all the brands and locations they support and notice trends at a high level, while also being able to share the problematic areas with their developer teams seamlessly so they can be quickly fixed.
A team that builds and grows WITH the community
Over the last decade, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned working alongside developer ecosystems is this: Building developer experiences must go hand-in-hand with ensuring there is a strong team who will ideate, build, and grow with the developer community.
Sometimes that means trying out new avenues of interactions, such as setting up live audits on Twitch and YouTube. It was such a pleasant surprise to see the lively banter among the audience in a new space, kittens on screen, and the occasional do-doodo-dodoooo humming from Tim Kadlec. Oh, how we miss seeing everyone at in-person webperf events! These live digital sessions give a sense of being in the same room, and hopefully it’s a nice break for our audience, too, to just connect.
We continue to invest in building a developer-focused and performance-obsessed team (just like our developers and users!).
A few of us were able to get together in the Fall.
Today, our team comprises of:
- Product and engineering members – This includes our newly formed Developer Experience engineering group, comprised of developers and performance experts themselves, who are all obsessed with building strong products and features for fellow developers.
- Developer solutions members – focused on helping you make the most of your web performance needs.
- Growth and product marketers – who are passionate about assisting the developer journey.
- A head of community – who focuses on creating more immersive and engaging experiences with and for our users and developers.
- AND let’s not forget our extended team across the rest of Catchpoint - These are the folks who provide us with unparalleled support and guidance on various aspects of running a developer-focused business unit.
Each of us bring diversity in experiences and unity in supporting our mission of improving digital experiences for all. I can’t wait for the day we all get to meet in person!
The next few months will be super exciting, as we launch crucial and holistic product experiences with WebPageTest and Catchpoint. We can’t wait to elevate the developer experience overall, no matter how early or advanced our users are in their web performance journey. WebPageTest users will be able to access more actionable insights, drive efficiency in measuring performance, and quickly find where the issues lie...Or better still, never have to find issues in the wild! Imagine the newspaper headline about detrimental user experiences that didn't make it to the press because you could take care of them pre-launch!
Likewise, we will continue to invest in industry-wide efforts around building awareness and informing web performance standards. On the community front, get ready for some really engaging programs that will be launching soon.
We are stoked about what’s coming, hope you are too!