Quick Start Guide
After installing pagetest it should be available the next time you launch Internet Explorer.
To launch pagetest: Under the Tools menu in Internet Explorer you will have an entry for "AOL Pagetest" (if not, it is not correctly installed). Just select the menu item and the pagetest dialog will open up.
Measuring a web page: Once the pagetest dialog is open it is ready to start measuring. The next page you go to in Internet Explorer will be measured by pagetest (you will see it measuring as it displays the waterfall of the page loading as the page components come in). When pagetest thinks the page is done loading (2 seconds of no activity with no outstanding requests) most of the menu items will become available and it will display warning icons to the left of any requests that failed one of the optimization guidelines. If you want to manually stop measurement (perhaps because it is not automatically detecting the end) you can select "Stop Measurement" from the Tools menu (in pagetest, not Internet Explorer). It is important to remember that pagetest measures exactly what your current experience is with the page so if you want to see what a first-time visitor to the page would see make sure to clear your cache and cookies before measuring.
Once a measurement completes, pagetest will not measure any new activity until you tell it to by selecting "New" from the File menu. As a shortcut, if you navigate to about:blank it will also prepare for a new measurement (a good way to do this is to set up about:blank as your home page and just hit the "home" button in Internet Explorer when you want to start a new measurement).
Understanding the results: The default view of the results is a waterfall display of the various requests that make up the page:
Each line in the waterfall corresponds with a request made by Internet Explorer for content that is part of the page. Each item in the waterfall can consist of up to 4 different components (the yellow highlighted request is a good example).
The first component which is a dark blue/grey is the time spend doing a DNS lookup. The next component which is orange is the socket connect time. Both of these components may or may not be present as the DNS requests are usually only done once per host name and the socket connections can be re-used for multiple requests. The third component which is green is the "time to first byte". This includes the time needed to send the request to the server up until the response first starts coming in. The last bar (light blue) is the time spent downloading the actual content from the server. Next to each waterfall item is the time spent for all of the components combined. Additionally, any 400+ responses (errors) will be highlighted in red and any 300-399 responses (usually redirects and not-modified responses) will be highlighted in yellow and the response code will be in parenthesis. The actual content download time is the only time spent doing actual useful work (in most cases), all of the rest of the times are just setting up for being able to do the downloads and should be minimized as much as possible.
There are also two vertical lines displayed in the waterfall view. The first one (green) is the "render start time". This is the point at which the browser first displays any content to the user. The second line (blue) is the "Document Complete time" which is the time when the browser would fire the onLoad event.
If you expand any of the waterfall entries (click on the +) you will get some high-level information about the request (individual component times, full url, IP address of host, etc). Double-clicking on the label of a waterfall item (left column in the display) will bring up a dialog with the full request and response headers for the request. Additionally, if the content was text (html, js, css) it will also include the contents of the response (un-gzipped if it was gzip encoded):
Optimization Checklist: Once measurement is complete you have the option to see a checklist view of the various optimization suggestions:
In this view you will see each request and how it performed against the 8 recommendations for performance that we recommend implementing. A green check means that the item passed the test, a red X means it failed and a yellow warning icon means it partially passed. A blank entry means the recommendation was not applicable to that request. At the top there will be a % score for each guideline which is an average of the results for that guideline with passes counting as 100%, warnings counting as 50% and failures counting as 0% (N/A does not count towards the average).
Exporting waterfalls and checklists: The waterfall and optimization checklists can be exported as .gif images from the File menu (Export...).
Optimization Report: In addition to the graphical checklist, pagetest can also produce a detailed optimization report that provides specific information about each failure and in some cases what the gain will be by fixing it. You can save out the optimization report by selecting "Save Optimization Report" from the file menu.
Full headers: Pagetest also has the option to save out a full report of all of the requests made in a single report (including full request and response headers). This is done through the "Save Report" item in the File menu.