Web performance – Weekend must-read articles #30

web performance

This is our collection of must-read articles for the weekend.  There’s something about GitHub, Etsy, and more.

Every week we bring you a collection of links to places on the web that we find particularly newsworthy, interesting, entertaining, and topical. We try to focus on some particular area or topic each week, but in general we will cover Internet, web development, networking, web performance, security, and other geeky topics.

This week’s suggested reading

How we keep GitHub fast

The most important factor in web application design is responsiveness. And the first step toward responsiveness is speed. But speed within a web application is complicated. Our strategy for keeping GitHub fast begins with powerful internal tools that expose and explain performance metrics. With this data, we can more easily understand a complex production environment and remove bottlenecks to keep GitHub fast and responsive.

What hardware powers Etsy.com?

Traditionally, discussing hardware configurations when running a large website is something done inside private circles; and normally to discuss how vendor X did something very poorly, and vendor Y’s support sucks. With the advent of the “cloud”, this has changed slightly. Suddenly people are talking about how big their instances are, and how many of them. And I think this is a great practice to get in to with physical servers in datacenters too. After all, none of this is intended to be some sort of competition; it’s about helping out people in similar situations as us, and broadcasting solutions that others may not know about… pretty much like everything else we post on this blog.

Keys to a fast web app

I recently tweeted that the keys to a faster web app are Ajax architecture, JavaScript, and caching. This statement is based on my experience – I don’t have hard data on the contribution each makes and the savings that could be had. But let me comment on each one.

Economies of scale in the datacenter: Gmail is 100x cheaper to run than your own server

We’ve shown that when you run a large application in the datacenter, like Gmail, you can, compared to a small organization running their own email server, you can save nearly a factor of 100 in terms of compute and energy, when you run it at scale.

The innovations of Internet Explorer

Long before Internet Explorer became the browser everyone loves to hate, it was the driving force of innovation on the Internet. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all of the good that Internet Explorer did before Internet Explorer 6 became the scourge of web developers everywhere. Believe it or not, Internet Explorer 4-6 is heavily responsible for web development as we know it today.

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Image (top) via Shutterstock.


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