Web Tortoise


Web Performance – Presenting With a Cycle Plot


Hello! This #WebTortoise post was written 2013-OCT-31 at 09:36 AM ET (about #WebTortoise).

Main Points

#- Happy Halloween.

#- Use Cycle Plots to compare cyclical points (e.g. from a time-based graph) right next to each other. For example, compare the Response Time of Monday, the 28th right next to the Response Time of Monday, the 21st right next to the Response Time of Monday, the 14th right next to …

#- Chart/Graph Name: Cycle Plot. Shows: Performance, Availability and/or Reliability


Okay, here’s the situation (your parents went away on a week’s vacation?). Are looking at a traditional time-based, #WebPerf line graph showing last week’s Response Times and want to compare some type of cycle (e.g. this Monday versus last Monday versus the prior Monday versus etc or, this noon hour versus the last noon hour versus the prior noon hour versus etc). However, due to the nature of the time series, are unable to do this very easily.

Enter the Cycle Plot.

A Cycle Plot is a type of line graph useful for displaying cyclical patterns. Cycle plots were first created in 1978 by William Cleveland and his colleagues at Bell Labs (Bryan Pierce, A Template for Creating Cycle Plots in Excel).

In this Webtortoise Story, will use a Cycle Plot to see the hours of the day side-by-side. Specifically, we’ll compare the Response Time for each of the 24 hours in a day, for each day of the week.

First, the traditional time-based line:

Webtortoise Cycle Plot Graph 1

Straight away, notice Response Time fluctuation potentially effect of peak load versus non-peak load. Going from Midnight (hour, “0”) to Noon (hour, “12”) and then back toward the end of the day (hour, “23”), can see the Response Times rise and fall. Can also see the Response Times on SAT-SUN (weekends) versus MON-FRI (weekdays) are also less (further bolstering the peak versus non-peak theory).

Now, let’s take the above time-based graph and show:

– The Midnight hour of SUN next to the Midnight hour of MON next to the Midnight hour for the rest of the weekdays
– The 01:00 am hour of SUN next to the 01:00 am hour of MON next to the 01:00 am hour for the rest of the weekdays
– And so on, for each respective hour for each respective weekday

Resulting in the following Cycle Plot:

Webtortoise Cycle Plot Graph 2

Reading the Chart: In the above chart, first notice how the breakdowns are switched.  Where were showing days below the hours, are now showing the hours below the days.  In each of the 24 hour “panels” along the X axis, the blue lines are the individual data for each day of the week where the orange lines are the average for that same respective day.

Now lets “Zoom In” to hopefully crystalize the chart reading.

The Midnight hour:

Cycle Plot Midnight Hour

The 01:00 AM hour:

Cycle Plot 0100 am Hour

Insights from the Chart

Now knowing how to read the chart, here are some initial observations:

– Take a look at the orange line averages and see how the overall Response Times definitely rise, starting at around @ 6-7 am
– Take a look at the orange line averages and see how the overall Response Times definitely fall, starting at around @ 7-8 pm
– Within each hourly panel, the first data is SUN and the last data is SAT. Can then say the weekends are faster than the weekdays (could see this in the regular time-based line graph, too, to be fair)
– The Variance/Deviation for some of those peak hours appear to be much higher than for some of those off-peak hours (Just eyeballing e.g. the 11:00 PM or Midnight hour, versus e.g. the 08:00 AM or Noon hour).

Just For Fun

Remove the orange line averages and instead replace them with a second-order trendline. The resulting chart is:

Webtortoise Cycle Plot Graph 3

In the above graph, the blue lines are still the individual data. Have just replaced the orange averages with black trendlines.

Notice the shape of most trendlines to be either a candy cane ‘hook’ shape or a small ‘mountain top’ shape. For those trendlines not following that pattern, might investigate further to see why they are different (possible causes: maintenance windows, incidents, releases or etc).

Fair warning: The thought to add a second-order trendline came from the previous observation of the weekends being faster than the weekdays. Recall the first data in each series was SUN and the last data in each series was SAT, so the hook/mountain top shapes re-enforce this.  Knowing which graph to use in which situation comes from experience and trial & error; don’t be afraid to ‘play with your graphs’.

Document Complete / OnLoad:

_The following is optional reading material._

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/leovasiliou

Twitter: @LvasiLiou

Google:  http://www.google.com/+LeoVasiLiou

Download the Excel file here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9n5Sarv4oonakJzTklGS1N5Q1E/edit?usp=sharing

#CatchpointUser #ChartsAndDimensions #KeynoteUser #Performance #SiteSpeed #WebPerformance #Webtortoise #WebPerf #WPO #DataVis

#ExcelCyclePlot #ExcelPanelChart #ExcelManuallyCalculatingTrendlines


Web Performance Charts in Action – Panel Charts


Hello! This #WebTortoise post was written 2013-JUN-12 at 02:45 PM ET (about #WebTortoise).

Main Points

#- Use panel charts for certain web performance data to make reading them easier.
#- Will need to manually calculate trend lines for panel chart data as the Excel built-in trend line function(s) ‘spans panels’.
#- Excel Line Chart, Excel Panel Chart


In Webtortoise World, are constantly looking at Performance and Availability data by various dimensions. Can look at data by Host (Performance of Host1 vs Host2 vs etc), by ISP (Performance of Verizon vs L3 vs etc), by Geography (Performance of East Coast vs West Coast vs etc) and by etc. The problem is can be tough to discern and understand when there are a lot of chart data on a single chart.

Enter panel charts.

Panel charts take multiple chart data and split them into separate ‘panels’, while still being on a single chart (the illusion is of multiple charts, though). These panel charts are generally shown side-by-side and have the benefit of using the same axes (by default).

A non-panel chart:

This first chart is not a particularly atypical chart type. It shows respective median Response Times, for a 24-hour period (2013-JUN-06 to be exact), by ISP. It could be Synthetic data, could be RUM data or could be data from any other instrumental ‘ruler’. Is not important this Breakdown is by ISP (the Breakdown could be anything really). What IS important is to concede how tough it is to read the individual measurements. Who’s the worst performer? Who’s the best performer? Are they all following the same trend?

The Charts and Dimensions of Availability and Performance

The panel chart:

Is taken the above line chart and made into this below panel chart, with each of the respective ISP’s Performance data in their own panel. With [intentionally] no additional formatting, can more easily read the information (No additional formatting was applied so as to compare only the layout change. Purpose is to convey the value of the panel chart based on its own merit).

The Charts and Dimensions of Performance and Availability

The panel chart with additional formatting:

One thing would not ever attempt to do with the first chart is add a trend line for each series! Shudder to think how much of a hot mess that’d have been! With the panel chart, though, adding trend lines makes the chart even more valuable (In this case, added 2nd-order Polynomial trend lines as might expect a Performance pattern to be similar to peak traffic pattern). Note to add trend lines to each panel means to manually calculate the trend line for each series (see article link in the below optional section) as Excel’s built-in trend line capability ‘spans panels’.

The Charts and Dimensions of Performance and Availability

Let’s go back and answer some of those initial questions:

Q: Who’s the worst performer?
A: ISP 7 is clearly the worst performer.

Q: Who’s the best performer?
A: ISPs four and six are neck-and-neck for ‘the best performer’.

Q: Are they all following the same trend?
A: No! While each other ISP has a slight Performance degradation during peak traffic, ISP 5 is actually trending down!

Document Complete / OnLoad:

_The following is optional reading material._

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/leovasiliou

Twitter: @LvasiLiou

Download Excel file here https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9n5Sarv4oonMVhPVGVLRXBXdEk/edit?usp=sharing

Manually Calculate Trendlines in Excel http://www.slideshare.net/ksatyamahesh/computing-trendline-values-in-excel

PeltierTech Article on Panel Charts http://peltiertech.com/Excel/ChartsHowTo/PanelChart1.html

#CatchpointUser #ChartsAndDimensions #KeynoteUser #Performance #SiteSpeed #WebPerformance #Webtortoise #WebPerf #WPO
#ExcelManuallyCalculatingTrendline #ExcelPanelChart #ExcelTrellisChart #SmallMultiples

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