Typing Speed Mini Spec

jason-sanjose edited this page May 15, 2012 · 9 revisions
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CodeMirror Event Handling

CodeMirror's approach to keyboard event handling uses a hidden textarea for text input http://codemirror.net/doc/internals.html. For typing performance, the most significant point to observe is that CodeMirror uses a short polling interval to detect changes to the textarea once the input event has fired.

Profiling with Web Inspector

Measuring typing performance manually is straightforward with Web Inspector's Timeline panel. The input event appears nested under the keypress event. This input event marks the starting time.

Web Inspector Timeline

There are multiple milestones in CodeMirror's event handling. Line-patching related DOM changes happen early. Other DOM changes and inspection happen later such as scrolling, gutter updates, etc. Often the typed character(s) will get repainted by the browser quickly, however, related changes to the DOM cause following keyboard input processing to lag.


Our current approach to measurement relies on the following:

  1. DOM input event - The same event CodeMirror uses on it's hidden textarea. This is our start time.
  2. webkitRequestAnimationFrame - Triggered before each repaint. Since this can vary based on the application structure (e.g. CSS style rules, re-layout, etc.), we record significant repaints relative to CodeMirror's event handling: (1) first repaint after input, (2) last repaint before CodeMirror's onChange event and (3) first repaint after CodeMirror's onChange event.
  3. CodeMirror onChange event - Triggered when all DOM updates are complete. This is more than just line patching to display characters, this includes scrolling, updating inlines, etc.

Alternatives and Trade-Offs

  1. Instrumenting CodeMirror internals - To keep Adobe's fork of CodeMirror as close as possible to mainline, we've decided against instrumenting CodeMirror. While this detailed level of instrumentation may be helpful, we are more concerned with the bigger picture, response time between keystrokes. The measurements mentioned above give us that data without any changes to CodeMirror.
  2. console.profile() - Again, this is more information than we need. Also, profiling significantly degrades performance. Our event handling and requestAnimationFrame approach has a negligible impact on performance.

Conditions That Affect Typing Speed

  • Keyboard Event intervals (Words Per Minute range 20 to 80 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_per_minute)
  • Native OS keyboard settings: repeat rate and delay until repeat
  • Size of document
    • Gutter changes to add/remove line numbers
  • Size of viewport
    • Text changes that trigger scrolling
    • Window/Editor size
  • Line wrapping
  • Syntax highlighting
    • CodeMirror mode (some languages might have more expensive syntax highlighting than others)
    • What type of token you're in (e.g. is typing text within a comment cheaper than typing within a variable name?)
    • What character you typed (e.g. typing "." starts a new token instead of appending to previous; or typing the "/" and the end of a block comment triggers many syntax highlighting updates)
    • Well-formed documents
    • Mixed content
  • CodeMirror pollingInterval
  • Number of inline widgets
  • Number of keyboard shortcuts
  • Electric chars (auto indenting matching braces)
  • Auto indenting (smartIndent setting)
  • Typing carriage return (presumably more expensive than a letter key)
  • If you are NJ

Manual Testing

See https://groups.google.com/d/topic/brackets-dev/hagQVKGGuPM/discussion.

Automated Testing

Automated tests will be written as Jasmine specs. We don't currently have build automation of any sort. For now, we intend to manually run these tests on dedicated test machines.

To reliably simulate typing, we use setTimer() at an appropriate WPM interval to change the hidden textarea value. This triggers input events for CodeMirror.

Test Case Outline

Note: We'll likely add test cases in phases based on the permutations of the conditions above. The outline below serves as an initial set of test cases include general tests as well as known scenarios that we wish to investigate as of Sprint 8. Test media will be located in TBD.

  • General Tests for both full editors and inline CSS editors
    • Typing a single char
    • Typing a sequence of 80 chars - 19 WPM (average composition), 80 WPM (fast pro typist), 15ms (mac) and 30ms (win) keyboard repeat intervals
    • Deleting a single char
    • Deleting a sequence of 80 chars - 15ms (mac) and 30ms (win) repeat intervals

Performance Investigation Notes

  • The standalone CodeMirror demos do not show the typing speed lag that we see in Brackets.
  • Timeline profile comparisons between Brackets on CodeMirror show major differences in repaint regions. CodeMirror standalone data shows repaint regions isolated to the edited line. Bracket's repaint regions show extra repaints of the entire browser surface. Update 5/14: It appears the difference is due to the flex box layout used in Brackets. I confirmed in Brackets, Chrome and Firefox that the entire #main-view repaints for each DOM change in CodeMirror.
  • Press-and-hold tests are also snappy in CodeMirror standalone. There's a 1:1 correspondence between characters typed and onChange events. In Brackets, that ratio is approximately 6:1 on my current generation MacBook Air. input events are getting batched due to the longer layout/repaint times.