How we have improved the Export capability in Fleets Analyzer

Exporting data is a key feature of any data tool, and this is true of Fleets Analyzer. When we designed the export feature we increased (compared to previous products) the limit on the number of exportable rows to 100,000 and placed no limit on the number of columns. We also made sure that the exported Excel file is an exact copy of the results grid, including the column order.

What we didn’t have access to when designing the export solution for Fleets Analyser was data on the export habits of users of our previous products (ACAS and ASO Fleets). It’s clear now that we underestimated the frequency with which Fleets Analyzer users export data, and also the size of those exports.

The majority of users perform a search, reach the results set they wish to see, and then export the results for further manipulation in Excel. But, a very small number of users have been sequentially exporting very large quantities of data (some users have queued >100 exports in less than an hour). This has led to a far greater load on the exports server than was ever anticipated. It resulted in many export requests having to be queued before the export could be initiated.

Export Improvements

As part of the ongoing performance improvements, we have made two changes to how Fleets Analyzer handles exports:

  1. We’ve changed how the Excel file is built (each export consists of a query followed by the build of the output file);
  2. We’ve changed the export server configuration, from a single serial process to five processes that run in parallel;

So, what does this mean for users? It means that individual exports are much faster than before. An export performed after March 2017 can be up to five times faster than the same export performed between July 2016 and March 2017. And up to 10 times faster than the same export performed prior to July 2016 (we’ve optimised the export process twice during the last 12 months). As well as a much faster individual export, the introduction of parallel processing means you are far less likely to have to wait in a queue for your export to initiate.

The chart below shows the results for eight different exports, compared across three versions of Fleets Analyzer (June 2016, July 2016, and July 2017)

Figure 1. Export time for various Saved Searches, including two very large custom searches.

We will continue to monitor the Export situation, and will make further changes in future if they are required.