How do I debug a video playback lag in my AngularJS/Node.js app, potentially caused by too many open connections or browser issues?

3 years back, I created an AngularJS/Node.js app for looping short videos, serving as a playlist management tool for ledboarding displays. It features a videoOutput directive, replicated five times on the screen, each loading a sequence of 15-second videos. Videos switch every 15 seconds by updating the source in a video tag, served locally and streamed via Node.js.

Recently, at one customer’s setup, video playback began lagging after two hours without sync issues some videos would halt after 5 seconds in certain players but not others, progressively worsening until a browser refresh temporarily resolves it.

The problem doesn’t occur with shorter playlists and persists across different computers, including my laptop. Restarting the server offers brief improvement. This might be due to excessive open server connections or a Chrome issue. How can I debug this more effectively?

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Hey Sahil!

You can tackle a video playback lag in your AngularJS/Node.js application, which is caused by open connections or browser-specific issues and you should adopt a structured approach to debugging. Start with monitoring your application’s resource usage over time. You can use tools like Chrome’s Task Manager to keep an eye on memory and CPU consumption by browser tabs, while Node.js monitoring tools such as PM2 can track your backend processes. High resource utilization could indicate underlying issues like memory leaks or excessive processing.

Secondly, investigate network activity through Chrome Developer Tools’ Network tab, and watch for any signs of delayed responses, failed requests, or an unusually high number of requests that could suggest connection issues. For a deeper dive into network performance, tools like Wireshark can offer detailed insights into traffic patterns and potential congestion.

Other than that, memory leak is a common cause of gradual performance degradation. Using the Memory tab in Chrome’s Developer Tools to take and compare heap snapshots over time can reveal if your application’s memory usage is steadily increasing, a telltale sign of leaks.

If you suspect that open connections are to blame, consider implementing a connection pooling mechanism or limiting the number of concurrent video streams. Although Node.js is capable of handling numerous connections simultaneously, each active connection consumes system resources, and managing these connections more efficiently can mitigate the lag. Regularly updating your AngularJS and Node.js libraries, along with the browsers on which your application runs, can help you benefit from the latest performance optimizations and bug fixes.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek advice from the developer community. Documentation for your technology stack, forums like Stack Overflow, and other developer communities can be invaluable resources for troubleshooting and finding solutions to complex issues.

In short, addressing video playback lag in a web application involves a combination of monitoring, optimization, and active community engagement. By methodically examining each potential factor, from resource usage and network activity to software updates and community wisdom, you can pinpoint the root cause and implement an effective solution.