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Practical Monitoring by Mike Julian

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Chapter 6. Frontend Monitoring

Many companies often overlook frontend monitoring, usually due to monitoring being the “thing that Ops owns.” Your average sysadmin/ops engineer doesn’t often think about the frontend of an app, aside from the public-facing web servers. Unfortunately, this represents a pretty large blind spot, as we will soon see.

In this chapter, we’ll talk about why this is a blind spot and how to change that by looking at various approaches for frontend monitoring. We’ll wrap up the chapter with how to integrate frontend monitoring into other tools you’re already using to make sure you don’t lose those performance gains over time.

What do I mean by frontend monitoring? I define the frontend as all the things that are parsed and executed on the client side via a browser or native mobile app. When you load a web page, all of the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images constitute the frontend. All of the work a webapp does on fetching data from databases, executing backend code (e.g., Python, PHP), or calling APIs for data—that’s the backend. As more and more work is moved from the backend apps to the frontend, this delineation can get a little blurry.

In fact, with the proliferation of single-page apps (SPAs), it’s not uncommon for a spike in JavaScript errors to occur without any corresponding spikes in HTTP errors. Traditional approaches to monitoring simply aren’t suited for a world of client-side browser apps.

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