Lisa Frank

Testing Single Page Applications with SiteSpectThe choice of technology for building a website will impact your consumer experience. At SiteSpect, we are seeing more digital businesses build Single Page Applications (SPA) as the architecture for an improved site experience.

To better understand SPA and how SiteSpect supports testing these sites, I spoke with our Product Manager, Iwo Kadziela. Iwo led the development effort and has great insights into what makes us a better choice for optimizing SPA sites.

LF: What is SPA?
IK: SPA sites deliver an app-like experience in a web browser. Most companies consider SPA sites for mobile websites where it makes sense to provide a more fluid and responsive, native app-like experience for the end user.

LF: Why are our customers implementing SPA sites?
IK: In addition to the user experience, there are additional benefits. SPA sites benefit from an improved site performance after the first request, a reduced number of network requests, and lower bandwidth usage. For these reasons, we are seeing some clients leverage SPA frameworks for both desktop and mobile websites.

LF: How does SPA work?
IK: With an SPA site, all of the code is loaded on the initial call and the content is changed dynamically without requiring a page load. If there are requests to the origin after the initial load, they are generally API requests for fresh data. The application is controlled through JavaScript and many SPA sites use popular frameworks such as BackBone, Angular, or React. Also, many SPA sites use heavy browser caching and client-side templates to improve performance. One potential downside for customers to consider is that while performance does improve for the second and third click, the first click will have performance degradation due to the amount of data that is loaded.

LF: We’ve supported the testing of SPA for some time. What are the recent enhancements?
IK: SiteSpect’s Origin Experiments® feature has been used for a while to test SPA sites and I still think it is a great way of testing complex features, large redesigns, and any back-end logic. However, we wanted to create a better solution for simple changes and we have recently launched a new feature, Client-Side Factors, which work on the client side where SPA frameworks exist. In SiteSpect, a Factor is the content that you want to modify, such as a button, a line of text, an image, or even an entire page. Client-Side Factors, along with our JavaScript SDK and specific adapters for Angular, Backbone, and React, enable SiteSpect to support testing SPA sites more effectively.

LF: How is testing a SPA site different with SiteSpect than with another vendor’s optimization tool?
IK: Since SPA sites load everything on the first request, it’s crucial to hook in and execute test changes as soon as possible. Another vendor might use a JavaScript tag to make a change in the SPA, but that tag would need to be downloaded first before it can act. SiteSpect works as a reverse proxy, which means that it makes changes in the flow between the browser and the origin server, on the very first request. This allows Client-Side Factors to be delivered and ready as soon as the SPA is loaded by the browser.

LF: Are there any additional updates planned for SiteSpect’s support of SPA?
IK: We will continue to iterate on Client-Side Factors, adding more capabilities and features. As SPA sites gain even more traction, we will also be adding new adapters to support additional frameworks.

We believe that SPA will continue to be a popular choice for web development. Our extended functionality now allows your team to do even more with SiteSpect and SPA. We encourage you to request a custom demo of SiteSpect or contact the Help Desk with any questions.

Tags: Product Features

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