Improving Your Apps Has Never Been Easier With This New Tool

Written By: Harrison Hersch
August 27, 2018
5 min read

Taking a few minutes to make one or two key optimizations can help you quickly address performance issues, and we’re on an exciting journey to proactively point out those opportunities for you.

Over the coming weeks, some of you may start to see some messages show up in Quickbase with tips and suggestions on how to ensure optimal performance for your apps.  Quickbase builders are some of the most creative problem-solvers in the world, but with that creativity there also comes a lot of variation in how Quickbase apps are built. That’s why I’m so excited to introduce the ability for Quickbase to proactively alert you to pitfalls that you may encounter, without slowing you down.

These messages will focus on providing information about tools and techniques that you can use to keep your app running quickly and smoothly. Before we talk about what that looks like, I’d like to take a moment to explain why this is so important.

When you’re using it every day, it can be easy to forget that Quickbase is special, really special. One of the things that makes Quickbase so unique is that it’s an in-memory database that operates extremely quickly, even at high levels of complexity. If you’re curious about what that means, this awesome session from EMPOWER2018 will give you more detail: Quickbase Under the Hood.

Beyond the speed of Quickbase itself, another thing that I believe makes Quickbase special is how quickly you can build on it. While we can all agree that the speed of building is an incredible benefit, we also see how building fast can sometimes lead to small inefficiencies which compound over time and eventually impact performance. This is something that is true of any software environment, especially when people iterate and make changes over time. It’s not uncommon to end up with leftover fields which can and should be deleted, or old reports that just aren’t optimized. There are any number of other things that aren’t significant on their own, but which can add up to bigger problems when left unchecked.

Performance can be quite a deep topic, but in this case, it can actually be distilled down into one simple goal: “Make the computer do less work”. In a different blog post, I talked about how to diagnose and act on performance feedback. When we troubleshoot performance, we often look for a piece of lowhanging-fruit – such as a dashboard, report, or form that is taking too long to load. Here are a couple common examples:

  1. There is a dashboard that takes 5 seconds to load, and users access it 500x/day. This leads to about 40 minutes of processing time in a given day. By placing some of the more complex reports on another page and simply adding a link to that page on the original dashboard, the load time might be cut in half. That simple step would save 20 minutes a day of “think time” for the App.
  2. There is a single form that actually loads quite fast – maybe it loads in .75 seconds, but it is accessed 5,000x/day. This now represents just about an hour of “think time” for Quickbase. If we are able to make a simple change to the report settings and shave roughly .2 seconds off that load time, we have now saved about 16 minutes in a given day.

In either scenario, a small change gains somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes of saved time per day.

Many car owners know that it’s important to change their oil and rotate their tires regularly, rather than waiting for things to go bad. This regular maintenance is low cost and low effort, but high value. We want to encourage our builders to use the same mindset, especially as it relates to more complex applications and technology ecosystems. With Quickbase, there is a whole range of different actions that can facilitate great performance without sacrificing scale, and that’s exactly why we are starting this pilot. We will be gently informing our builders about the actions that are worth their time to investigate further, proactively providing the right tools when they’re needed. Nobody wants to have to replace their transmission, so in the same way that an oil change reminder prevents those expensive headaches, we are confident that these messages will help you and your users continue to have a great experience down the road.

What will this look like? To start, administrators of an application that load a report which takes more than 1 second to load, will see the following message:

We can see that by investing just a few minutes of time, builders can use the learn more about using the Quickbase Performance Profiler tool to improve the load time of their reports. Of course, if you do see this banner you can always choose to temporarily hide it and come back later when you have time. Based on the success of this pilot, we will continue to refine these messages and strive to get even more precise with the actions we suggest over time. In the meantime, we happily welcome any feedback that you can provide over in the Quickbase Community.

We are really excited to be able to offer you these insights, and we hope that you’ll join us to find out how even marginal improvements to a Quickbase app can lead to powerful results.

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