Web performance – Weekend must-read articles #32
This is our collection of must-read articles for the weekend. There’s something about WordPress, mod_pagespeed, HTTP/2.0, 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
Since April 2008, WordPress.com has experienced about 4.4 times growth in page views. WordPress.com VIP hosts many popular sites including CNN’s Political Ticker, NFL, Time Inc’s The Page, People Magazine’s Style Watch, corporate blogs for Flickr and KROQ, and many more. Automattic operates two thousand servers in twelve, globally distributed, data centers. WordPress.com customer data is instantly replicated between different locations to provide an extremely reliable and fast web experience for hundreds of millions of visitors.
One of the best investments any development team can make is towards better tooling and automation of common workflows. Turns out, many web performance best practices are prime candidates for this type of automation: preprocessing, minification, concatenating and spriting assets, optimizing images, and so on. One way to achieve this is through a build step prior to every deploy, which works, as long as you control all the assets and the release process. But, what if your product is a platform where new content is being uploaded, replaced, and modified on the fly by your users? That’s where an optimizing proxy, or a smart web server can do wonders – no build step required, yet you can still guarantee an optimized experience to your visitors. How would you build such a proxy?
If your page is on the web, speed matters. For developers and webmasters, making your page faster shouldn’t be a hassle, which is why we introduced mod_pagespeed in 2010. Since then the development team has been working to improve the functionality, quality and performance of this open-source Apache module that automatically optimizes web pages and their resources. Now, after almost two years and eighteen releases, we are announcing that we are taking off the Beta label.
Not long ago, the biggest challenge for a web engineer was making sites that worked well in several different browsers. While that is still the case, our challenge is shifting to supporting the growing number of devices. I have come across a few tools and paradigms that helped me make this shift. Some ideas cannot be easily expressed in words; truly the best teacher is experience. Make a committment to yourself to grind your mental axe on this skill.
Our beloved protocol that has been powering the information age in which we all live has been kicking around for over 21 years. Further, it has not had a major version change in 13! Using the dog year’s metaphor, this puts the invention of HTTP back in the colonial time of the Internet (I have a marvelous proof of this but limitations to the margin property prevent me from including it). It is a rare occurrence when something can stand the test of that sort of time and remain relevant. Even the United States Constitution has needed a few major tweaks in that time (27 in all). So it should come as no surprise that the current version of HTTP is showing its age.
While the mobile part of the story–23% mobile usage; focus on simplicity, ease of use, and reliability; using a room metaphor; 30% native, 80% HTML; embedded lightweight HTTP server; single client-app connection–could help guide your mobile strategy, the backend effects of moving from Rails to Node.js may also prove interesting.
We’re entering a new era where an increasing number of devices with wildly divergent features — including phones, tablets, game consoles, and TVs — are connected to the Internet. As the way people access the Internet changes, there is an urgent need to rethink how we use the web to communicate. This doesn’t mean creating separate solutions for each device but rather preparing our existing content to meet this increasingly unpredictable future. Dave Olsen and Doug Gapinski will share and examine examples that show how responsive design will help institutions rethink and adjust for the future-friendly web.
And finally, we hope you noted that many videos and speaker slides from Velocity Europe are now available.
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