State of Performance 2008
My Stanford class, CS193H High Performance Web Sites, ended last week. The last lecture was called “State of Performance”. This was my review of what happened in 2008 with regard to web performance, and my predictions and hopes for what we’ll see in 2009. You can see the slides (ppt, GDoc), but I wanted to capture the content here with more text. Let’s start with a look back at 2008.
- Year of the Browser
- Velocity 2008, the first conference focused on web performance and operations, launched June 23-24. Jesse Robbins and I served as co-chairs. This conference, organized by O’Reilly, was densely packed – both in terms of content and people (it sold out!). Speakers included John Allspaw (Flickr), Luiz Barroso (Google), Artur Bergman (Wikia), Paul Colton (Aptana), Stoyan Stefanov (Yahoo!), Mandi Walls (AOL), and representatives from the IE and Firefox teams. Velocity 2009 is slated for June 22-24 in San Jose and we’re currently accepting speaker proposals.
- My former colleagues from the Yahoo! Exceptional Performance team, Stoyan Stefanov and Nicole Sullivan, launched smush.it. In addition to a great name and beautiful web site, smush.it packs some powerful functionality. It analyzes the images on a web page and calculates potential savings from various optimizations. Not only that, it creates the optimized versions for download. Try it now!
- Google Ajax Libraries API
- UA Profiler
Here’s what I think and hope we’ll see in 2009 for web performance.
- Visibility into the Browser
- Think “Web 2.0″
- Speed as a Feature
- In my second month at Google I was ecstatic to see the announcement that landing page load time was being incorporated into the quality score used by Adwords. I think we’ll see more and more that the speed of web pages will become more important to users, more important to aggregators and vendors, and subsequently more important to web publishers.
- Performance Standards
- Focus on Other Platforms
- Most of my work has focused on the desktop browser. Certainly, more best practices and tools are needed for the mobile space. But to stay ahead of where the web is going we need to analyze the user experience in other settings including automobile, airplane, mass transit, and 3rd world. Otherwise, we’ll be playing catchup after those environments take off.
- Fast by Default
- I enjoy Tom Hanks’ line in A League of Their Own when Geena Davis (“Dottie”) says playing ball got too hard: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” I enjoy a challenge and tackling a hard problem. But doggone it, it’s just too hard to build a high performance web site. The bar shouldn’t be this high. Apache needs to turn off ETags by default. WordPress needs to cache comments better. Browsers need to cache SSL responses when the HTTP headers say to. Squid needs to support HTTP/1.1. The world’s web developers shouldn’t have to write code that anticipates and fixes all of these issues.
This is a long post, but I still had to leave out a lot of performance highlights from 2008 and predictions for what lies ahead. I look forward to hearing your comments.