Performance tooling in 2024 and beyond

Elizabeth Sweeny
Elizabeth Sweeny

The Performance panel in Chrome DevTools has been helping developers measure and optimize their runtime performance in one form or another for the better part of 15 years. Starting with a panel called 'Timeline', it evolved to the Performance panel you know today.

Over that time, Chrome launched other powerful performance products and features. Notably, Lighthouse was launched in 2016 to help spot optimization opportunities more easily. The experimental Performance Insights panel was released in 2022 to test new ways of surfacing performance insights.

The Performance panel is packed with data and features to help developers dive deep into page load and runtime performance issues. But let's be real for a minute, and acknowledge that it can be challenging to use and difficult to identify the biggest opportunities to improve page performance. Additionally, the power of other tools that help sort through noise and quickly isolate opportunities—like Lighthouse—are disconnected from the Performance panel.

In our quest to make it easier for developers to identify and reproduce performance issues, we are going to bring features and learnings from Lighthouse and the Performance Insights panel and integrate them into the existing Performance panel. We're also focusing on the UX and usability to improve the effectiveness of the Performance panel as a web performance optimization tool.

What's the result? A single panel—easier and more powerful than ever—for all performance data and insights.

Taking action on web performance, made easier

Your feedback confirms that the high information density compounds usability challenges. We're actively developing fixes and features to help. Key optimization journeys, like improving Core Web Vitals, are getting first-class treatment. We plan to introduce features like annotations, enabling you to mark findings and share learnings with your colleagues. Surfacing correlations in the data will help improve the ability to understand a complex system, with more ways for you to reveal how the data is connected, like network requests to main-thread activity.

We will ship new features as we develop them, and every few months share an update of the new capabilities the panel offers. Hang tight! You'll start seeing new features soon!

The power of Lighthouse, in the Performance panel

We've seen how developers use both the Lighthouse and Performance panels, and context switching between the two is a challenge. Furthermore, taking action on Lighthouse findings can require going into the Performance panel to get more additional context. This causes friction, as the prescriptive overview of a page's performance is disjoint from detailed performance data.

We are going to deeply integrate Lighthouse's performance analysis via the Performance panel. With this integration, Lighthouse will shine a light on the top opportunities to improve page performance within the Performance panel itself, accompanied with all of the detail necessary to take action on the opportunity.

After moving all performance functionality into the Performance panel, the independent Lighthouse panel in DevTools will become redundant, and will be sunset. This panel sunset will not happen until the second half of 2025. It's important to emphatically state that Lighthouse is not going away.

Screenshot of the Performance panel with the Lighthouse logo

Lighthouse is here to stay

The Lighthouse npm module, and the Lighthouse report in PageSpeed Insights (including the PSI API) will not be retired. We remain dedicated to the availability and quality of Lighthouse as an open-source tool that can be used in a developer's preferred environment to evaluate page performance.

This integration serves as a way for us to level up both the Performance Panel, and Lighthouse's capabilities for developers trying to reason about loading, responsiveness, and content stability.

The experimental Performance Insights panel will be deprecated

The Performance Insights panel was shipped as an experiment to see how we could better address three key pain points: reduce the information density of the Performance panel, support use case-driven analysis, and reduce the learning curve that comes with using the Performance panel.

We have learned a lot from the experiment through developer feedback. We validated that use case-driven analysis—for example, "I want to optimize LCP", or "I want to optimize pages to be more responsive"—is extremely valuable, and that features like the Layout Shifts Track make diagnosing and improving metrics far more straightforward.

Developers also found the Performance Insights panel to be more approachable than the Performance panel, validating that the reduced information density is appealing. However, this reduced density came at a cost in many cases, requiring developers to go to the Performance panel to get the detailed data necessary to take action.

Our learnings—and many features from the experimental Performance Insights panel—will be integrated into the Performance panel. Features like use case-driven analysis and improvements to information density, along with Lighthouse integration, will help us to make insights about page performance more actionable than ever before.

The Performance Insights experiment will be removed later in 2024.

Where to give feedback

As we ship new features, we welcome feedback. If you have ideas on how to improve the features added—or if your existing flow through the panel is being unduly disrupted—we want to hear from you. We want to hear what's working, what's not, and what you think can be done better. Thank you!