New Relic Synthetics, Now Available to All

Last month at FutureStack14 we announced a newcomer to the New Relic family of products, New Relic Synthetics.

Today we are excited to say that Synthetics’ doors are officially open to everyone! Come on in and create your free ‘ping checks’ or start a free 14-day trial and really dig into the performance of your business-critical transactions and API end-points using our scripted browser testing.

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(See the performance over time of every asset on your page)

New Relic Synthetics hands you the remote control to real browsers around the world to help make sure your website, application, or API is behaving as you would expect it to, 24×7.

What is “Synthetic”?

Since the beginning, New Relic’s DNA has been about measuring the performance of real users interacting with your production systems. This organic usage data is part of the critical systems-intelligence technology companies need at their fingertips to know their apps are healthy and performant.

That said, some questions are hard to answer with confidence if you rely solely on user-based performance data. We heard these questions loud and clear and decided to create a place dedicated to answering them at a glance.

Know before your customer does: positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to make and keep friends, motivate co-workers and teams, and give you the peace of mind that all the most important pieces of your app are working even in the middle of the night.

“Wait what? I don’t see a connection there…”

It’s a pretty simple idea really. If you have an e-commerce site, and you live and die by the fact that visitors to your site must be able to search for an item, add it to their cart, and check out, wouldn’t it be great if you knew with confidence that this process was working even in the middle of the night when traffic may be low or non-existent?

That is a focus of New Relic Synthetics, letting you sleep easy because our robots have your back and will proactively tell you when something isn’t working. Actually we call them ‘minions,’ but don’t worry, they aren’t of the evil variety. We have a pretty strict hiring policy in that regard.

The clean room

The Internet is an amazing thing that connects everyone to everything, and it can be a loud, noisy, and chaotic place where it is difficult to hear what’s important.

With so many outliers, edge cases, and transient events, wouldn’t it be nice if you could schedule some transactions to occur from the same locations over and over again and store that performance data in a separate place giving you a cleaner, quieter, and more consistent signal to analyze for changes and deviations?

Yep, you guessed it, that‘s another reason why we created New Relic Synthetics. You can now have dedicated performance data points from locations around the world so you’ll know when Australia, even though it produces only 5% of your traffic, is unable to buy from your site because your CDN provider’s POP location there is not serving your key static assets.

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From simple to flexible

New Relic Synthetics offers four ways to keep tabs on your site. We call them ‘check types’ and I’ll give you a quick overview of how they work and some things you can do with them.

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Ping: The first check type is what we call “Ping.” These are attractive for a few reasons. One, they are free. Yep, free. And two, they are simple to set up, just plug in a URL and we can let you know that everything is running OK.

Simple Browser: These are just as easy to set up as the ping check, but they come with more data. We do a full page load with a real browser and save the performance bits for you to peruse at your leisure, including total page size, resource timing data, response codes, and headers. We even save the console.log output for debugging.

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Scripted Browser: Our customers have some real flexibility here. You’re now in control of a real browser using WebDriver. Here are just a few things you could write checks for:

  • Login / authentication
  • Search and results
  • Checkout / purchase
  • How many of element X are on the page?
  • Is all of my CSS/ JS minified and gzipped?

Scripted API: This is another powerful check that lets you make one or more HTTP requests and assert that they are both successful and the data returned is as expected. You can do things like:

  • Make sure your API is paginating and not returning more than X results per request
  • Validate the structure of your JSON by spot checking keys and values
  • Ensure that your API results are actually accurate when known inputs result in known outputs

Today we have nine locations around the world from which these checks can run.

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The analytics cherry on top

(Note: Always stay past the credits at a Marvel movie.)

Once you start digging into New Relic Synthetics you’re going to love the detailed information we put at your fingertips. The fact that you can choose a resource (image, CSS, .js, .webp, etc.) on your page and see its individual load time performance over a given time window can be useful to help identify problems.

We didn’t stop there though.

You may have heard about a product we call New Relic Insights. It’s our software analytics product that lets you ask real-time questions of your data and get corresponding answers.

Well, we are excited to announce that all New Relic Synthetics Pro customers will also get access to their Synthetics monitoring data in New Relic Insights—for free! This includes

  • Access to 13 months of Synthetic monitoring data
  • Ad-hoc querying using NRQL
  • Custom dashboards to track and report on key metrics important to your business

Here are a few examples of the questions you can use Insights to ask of your Synthetics data:

  • What are the 10 slowest image resources across all of my sites?
  • What domains do my pages spend the most time fetching resources asynchronously from?
  • What is the 95th, 98th, and 99th percentile page load time from Brazil in the last three hours compared to last week at the same time?

Get started with your free 14-day trial today. If you have any feedback or questions as you get to know Synthetics, let us know in our Community Forum.

Nate Heinrich is a product manager at New Relic. He has a background in IT management, Web development, and operations. His hobbies include sports that include balls and nets, games of the video variety, and experimenting with machine learning APIs to one day predict something useful. View posts by .

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