Sometimes a picture—or an interactive visualization—can be worth more than a thousand words. I recently came across this amazing visualization of the evolution of the Web, created by members of the Google Chrome team, that shows the interplay of Web technologies and browsers that make the modern Internet possible in a way that no mere verbal description could attempt. It’s a beautiful and addictive technology history lesson interactively tracing the evolution of browsers and Web technology along with the growth of the Internet.

As I spent time working through its brilliant depiction of the incredible complexity that browser and Web technologies bring to application and customer experience management, I had something of an epiphany—the story it tells makes a strong case that New Relic Browser—along with other parts of the New Relic Software Analytics Platform, including New Relic Synthetics and New Relic Insights—should be a part of any application performance monitoring (APM) implementation.

Backend vs. frontend

Think of the challenges that developers have managing the backend parts of their apps. Complexity continues to explode in the backend—from the adoption of containers, microservices, and cloud platforms as well as the increasing popularity of languages such as Node.js and Python. But at least developers actually control most aspects of those parts of their apps: the programming languages they used, containers, versions, databases, etc.

Now consider that on the frontend, they control very little. They send their frontend app out to the client and have no control over what browser, device, or connection the user has (let’s set aside internal corporate pages and apps for the moment). This makes managing the frontend (and thus the customer experience) an incredible challenge.

browser performance

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Moreover, a huge chunk of the customer experience is based on time in the browser. Yet most APM users are not using browser-resident monitoring.

Why not? Could it be the lack of control causes them to think that taming the frontend beast is akin to jousting at windmills? That there’s little they can do about browser issues, so why bother?

That’s simply no longer true. With New Relic Browser, you can see this tangle of data and quickly assess and address the issues (i.e., slowness and errors) that affect a majority of your users. You can begin to see there can be some order in this chaos.

Enter New Relic Insights

Now enter New Relic Insights, which can give app developers further control by helping them to understand the macro- to microtrends of their users’ browser-based behavior. Insights can help reveal their users’ most important pages, browser versions, devices, etc. Teams can target their development and QA efforts based on these conclusions.

New Relic Synthetics adds proactive verification

synthetics and insights screenshot

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And it’s not just a black box. Companies can create New Relic Synthetics scripts to verify the availability, performance, and correctness of these key pages and interactions. They can use Synthetics data to give them deterministic, repeatable data that eliminates the variability of real user data and provides a known baseline against which to compare test versions and new releases.

New Relic Browser and Synthetics—along with New Relic Mobile—can provide the foundation to more fully understand customer experience. The combination helps bridge traditional APM with software analytics, based on understanding business outcomes.


Smartphone image courtesy of

Andy Wetzel is Senior Director, Industry Solutions for New Relic. View posts by .

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