Paratrooper Digital

Testing server side geolocation

For one of our clients we recently had to test server side geolocation that we were putting in place. One option would have been to modify the backend to fake a different IP, but without actually testing the site loading from one of those geographic locations we wouldn’t be sure that it was working.

We ended up using a free service called web page test

Some of it’s features

  • Takes a video of the page load.

    You can see a video of how the page loads, sometimes viewing of how images come in can shape how one goes about loading them.

  • Visual hierarchy of page load

    You see the timeline of the page load as it happened, with each request staggered as the browser request them. This is similar to what you see in most developer tools like those for Chrome and firebug

  • Details of all the requests.

    While you don’t see the full response you do get to see the primary headers and the responses for each of the requests. Super helpful in tracking down problems.

  • Best practices while you wait

    As an added bonus wheil you wait for the test to complete there are some best practices shared with how to improve the performance of your site. Good for people not familiar with performance measures.

  • Free

    Can’t argue with free, even if you have to wait.

Some of it’s limitations

  • Need to wait in a queue

    The tests get run in series so if people are using the service you’ll have to wait. We waited maybe

  • Not all browsers

    Some locations only had specific versions of IE, others only chrome. Each location didn’t seem to have a full suite of browsers.

As HTML5 and geolocation functionality continues to become more prominent (not just in mobile but on the desktop as well) having ways to test geolocation truly from a different location will become more integral. It should be noted that there is a larger set of tools and ways to do geolocation faking when its browser based, but this didn’t help in our situation due to the geolocation being server side.

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About Nate Frank

Nate is currently a Senior Presentation Layer Architect at Razorfish Chicago. As an SPLA Nate: participates in technology leadership team and resource allocations, manage fulltime and contractor resources, represents technology for groups of brands across multiple clients, furthers development of standards within the office, architects project implementations and fosters community and mentoring.

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