Latest Addition to the APM Team
by James Meickle on

Welcome to TraceView

Howdy, folks! I’m James, the newest TraceView engineer at AppNeta. I was a Drupal web developer until few months ago, most recently on a very large Drupal Commons Pressflow 6project utilizing memcachedVarnish, and Akamai. It’s been three weeks since I started as the second sales engineer here within our Application Performance Management (APM) division, and you can definitely draw a conclusion about how busy I’ve been that I’m just now saying hi!

The Application Performance Management team

The APM division within AppNeta is growing fast, and right from my first day I was shadowing demo calls and helping out on the support board – and all that before I’d even finished my orientation! Actually, we keep our engineers busy enough that it took a few days before we could schedule a session of “Trace Academy” to bring me up to speed. It was worth the wait! I learned a great deal about the internals of our system and the impressive list of technical challenges that had to be solved to get to this point.

A typical day as a sales engineer involves giving several TraceView demonstrations over the phone (you have asked us for one, right?). I also answer a lot of questions about our supported features and development roadmap. My favorite type of call, though, is the data walkthrough. After you’ve signed up for our free trial and installed our instrumentation, I’ll use your own data as a starting point to show you how to diagnose even truly pernicious performance problems with TraceView.

TraceView Team A TraceView heatmap provides unparalleled visibility into the performance of custom web applications

Of course, I have to be ready to answer really obscure questions about TraceView that no orientation process would cover (and yes, before you ask, we do support RFC 1149!). I believe that the best way to learn how an application works is to jump right into developing it, and luckily, sales engineer isn’t just a title here. I’ve already made my first commit, filed feature requests, and taken part in product planning meetings – that’s a lot of opportunities to learn.

Getting to Know the Apps

Given my background, I’ve carved out my own niche as the engineering team’s “Drupal guy” by making sure that our roadmap includes development geared towards my favorite CMS. An increasing number of clients are coming to us with Drupal sites, ranging from small development shops managing hosting for their clients to corporate divisions running multi-server EC2 infrastructures behind CDNs. To that end, in my time here I’ve already built demo sites in Pressflow 6 and Drupal 7 and submitted a patch to the community-maintainedTracelytics Drupal module that squishes a major bug.

Next up, I’ll be submitting a patch to support segmentation based on whether a page was in Drupal’s page cache. I’d also like to provide more user-configurable options for how to collect trace data, like taking advantage of our code profile feature.

Later, I’ll be working with our partners at Acquia to make sure that TraceView works on a variety of Drupal configurations on their environment. Acquia alone offers a number ofDrupal installation profiles, and there are many more created by the wider Drupal community – it’s my goal to make sure that TraceView is as awesome as it should be on all of them. I may even get a chance to work on our support for load-balanced Drupal sites by exposing information about the black box that is Varnish, letting you diagnose whether your code is breaking your caching. I’m looking forward to my first brush with C – I’m sure that experience alone will warrant a future blog post!

Improving the Performance of Web Apps

So, if you’re interested in learning how you can use TraceView to improve the performance of your web application, register for our free 14-day trial. I’ll gladly give you a data walkthrough using your app as an example!

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