Choosing GWT and SmartGWT over other technologies

About 2 years ago Sofico started a project to replace its rich desktop application (built with PowerBuilder) with a browser based rich internet application. The developers selected GWT and SmartGWT as core technologies to leverage their in-house Java expertise because they believed in the potential of what these (fairly) new technologies had to offer. Their goal was to replace the existing desktop client with a new one which ran in a browser. Their eyes where set on a better user experience and high degree of customization possibilities to give their customers the flexibility and adaptability that they need to run their businesses.

Need End-to-End Visibility into GWT Black Box

GWT was a great choice as they could soon deliver the first basic version. The problems started when trying to figure out what was actually going on in these frameworks in order to analyze performance problems reported by the first testers.

Developers started off by using the “usual suspects” – browser-specific Dev Tools for Chrome, Firefox and IE. Back then, the built-in tools lacked first class JavaScript performance analysis capabilities which made it difficult to analyze a complex browser application. Additionally, there were no integration capabilities into server-side performance analysis tools such as JProfiler which would allow them to analyze the impact and correlation between server-side and client-side GWT code. Taking performance seriously, the performance automation team came up with some key requirements for additional tooling and process support.

Requirement #1: Browser to Database Visibility to “understand” what’s going on

Do you know what really happens when a page of a GWT application is loaded? No?! Neither did the developers from Sofico. Getting insight into the “Black Box” was therefore the first requirement because they wanted to understand: what really happens in the browser, how many resources are downloaded from the web server, which transactions make it to the app server, what requests are cached, where is it cached and how the business logic and data access layer implementation impacts end user experience.

The following screenshots show the current implementation which gives the developers full visibility from the browser to the web, app and database server. The Transaction Flow visualizes how individual requests or page loads and services by the different application tiers are processed.

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