Fifty five years ago yesterday (July 17, 1964), Donald Campbell broke the land speed record at Lake Eyre, Australia, attaining a speed of 403.1 mph. That record has subsequently been broken many times, but what makes Campbell’s record interesting, to me, is that it was the last time that the record would be broken by a wheel-driven vehicle. Subsequent records were broken by jet-powered cars, and so a purist might argue that Campbell’s record still stands today.
Donald clearly inherited his interest in speed from his father Malcolm Campbell, who raced cars and motorcycles in the 1920s and first broke the land speed record himself in 1924 at a speed of 146.16 mph. Campbell senior broke the record eight more times, finally in 1935 at a speed of over 300 mph. He also set the water speed record in 1939 and his son Donald reset the record seven more times himself. In fact, although Malcolm died of natural causes, it was during a water speed record attempt that Donald Campbell died, at the age of just 45.
In 1964, shortly after Campbell’s land speed record breaking run in Australia, the FIA changed the rules and allowed jet propelled vehicles to qualify for the record. That actually had the effect of nullifying Campbell’s record, since a jet propelled car had already been clocked at a faster speed. The land speed record is currently held by British fighter pilot Andy Green, who drove his car Thrust SSC at a speed of 763 mph in 1997, becoming the first land-based vehicle to break the sound barrier.
As a species, we’ve always been obsessed with speed, at least since the early 20th century. Records are there to be broken, and vast amounts of resources have been poured into attempts to do so. But there are other reasons we like things to go fast. Commuters have a tendency to drive fast on their way to work because they want the commute to go quickly. People eat at McDonald’s when they’re in a hurry, not to savor each mouthful of food that they eat there. And with our software apps, we want them to react fast, to minimize the amount of time we have to sit at the keyboard waiting for a response.
So what is “fast”, in terms of software user interface? I think the standards here haven’t changed in decades, and largely adhere to the “powers of 10” principle: a response time of 0.1 seconds gives a user a sense that the app is reacting instantly, a response within 1 second indicates a delay, but allows the user to continue their train of thought, but a response of 10 seconds or more is beyond most people’s attention span and causes the user to lose concentration.
And it’s not just apps with UIs that need to go fast. If you have an agent that needs to “batch” process a large number of documents in a database, there’s usually a finite limit to the amount of time that the app can take. For example, an application that updates exchange rates overnight and recalculates a large number of data points usually only has a small window of time in which it needs to complete.
So what can you do if your application is under performing? IBM published its own list of performance considerations, which is fine for when you are building new applications from scratch. If you’re trying to track down performance issues in existing code, and in particular if you’re performance tuning code that’s written in LotusScript, then you should take a look at Teamstudio Profiler.
Profiler is a full-featured performance profiler for LotusScript that breaks down timings for your LotusScript code line by line and shows the timings in the context of your code. Also, there’s no need for any code changes to run the performance profiler. Turn it on, run your code, turn it off and see the results. That makes it super-easy to use, and there’s no risk of making mistakes when you’re editing code to add or delete timing code.
Not all of your performance related issues will be contained in LotusScript code. But for those that are, it can be really hard to track down where those issues are located in order to fix them.
The HCL Notes and Domino applications that you are tasked with maintaining may not be about to break any speed records. But if you have users complaining that they’re running slowly, or if you have agents that are overrunning their allotted time windows, Profiler is a tool that just might help. Click below to learn more.