It’s almost New Year’s Day – a time to reflect on the year that has passed and envision what lies ahead. Steve looks back at 2010 and predicts what’s in store for 2011.

Writing JavaScript benchmarks isn’t as simple as it seems. Even without touching the subject of potential cross-browser issues, there are a lot of pitfalls — boobytraps, even — to look out for.

The craft of web performance has come a long way from yslow and the first few performance best practices. Engineers the web over have made the web faster and we have newer tools, many more guidelines, much better browser support and a few dirty tricks to make our users’ browsing experience as smooth and fast as possible. So how much further can we go?

While we have great tools like Firebug, Page Speed, YSlow!, and Chrome/Safari Developer Tools on the desktop, unfortunately no such tools exist for mobile browsers. Well Bryan and Libo have a surprise for you.

Well-optimized landing pages, as judged exclusively by tools like YSlow and Page Speed, are not good enough, and can even inadvertently harm revenues. You need to take a whole-site approach to optimization. This mean developing a deep understanding of your traffic flows so that you can ensure that all pages are optimized for peak user experience.

Lindsey describes the why, the how and the conclusions of a “task speed” test performed with the help if Browserscope while implementing Google Translate’s new language selection feature.

Web Performance Analysis can become quite challenging. Some tasks simply seem too complex to be achieved with any reasonable effort. For some there seems to be no solution at all. This makes performance analysis look like rocket science. Alois has collected a set a tasks which may at first sight seem to be difficult to achieve, but at the end turn to be much simpler than initially expected and not rocket science at all.

Ads frequently block rendering, because ad snippets include external <script> tags that cannot be deferred because the script response relies on document.write() to make inline modifications to the document. Kyle asks: “Can HTML5 help content owners and ad networks make ads faster?”

Once you sprite your images, the next step is to compress them as much as possible. PNG is a great format for this, but… Does PNG work everywhere? Yes, it does! No, it doesn’t! Which PNG? Enjoy this tell-all by Kornel, creator of ImageOptim.

15th
Dec 2010

Performance was a major product and engineering goal in the new Twitter.com, launched in September. To make it fast, the engineering team focused on practical application of many well-understood front-end performance techniques, but also crafted some interesting new solutions along the way. Let Ben shares some of these techniques.

It’s no secret that benchmarking is key to improving performance and avoiding regressions. In order for a benchmark to be useful, it must be realistic and repeatable. Unfortunately, in benchmarking web page load times the variability introduced by the network often forces one to choose between including the network and dealing with noise, or zeroing the network and ignoring a dominating factor. In this post, Tony shows us how to simulate network time using a benchmark developed for Google Chrome.

Over the past couple of years, a lot of attention has been paid to blocking and non-blocking JavaScript in browsers, and with good reason. Let Nicholas guide you through your options.

David presents some techniques for optimizing on mobile, particularly for higher-end smart phones or devices running iOS, Android, and even webOS.

If you’re developing a web app that requires to load and show large HTML chunks, Sergey shows you a trick that could help your app to be more responsive, especially on mobile devices.

In this monster of a post, Hedger Wang shows us that there’s much more to Google Closure compiler than minification.

Every list of web performance recommendations has a step to utilize browser and proxy caches. When components of the page are not transferred over the network, but loaded from local drive, page rendering happens much faster. In practice, there are a few layers of the web infrastructure are involved and Sergey covers some important things to know before attempting an easy task of enabling cache headers.

Some HTTP headers are really important, but there’s also a lot of bloated waste in these headers. The hidden header information in all our requests and responses is silently weighing down our transmissions, wasting bandwidth, clogging the pipes, and slowing both message creation and message reading. Kyle guides us through separating the wheat from the shaft.

On November 3 2010 Google announced the first release of an Apache module that can help speed up your site: mod_pagespeed. Mod_pagespeed is supposed to be the easy solution for making your site faster: install, configure and run. Easy as pie. Users will be happy, your traffic and conversion goes up. Free magic!

Gzipping textual resources – JavaScripts, CSS, HTML – is such a clear win (~70% savings) that it’s a shame that some proxies and anti-virus software mangle the Accept-Encoding header, causing about 15% of all the users to always get uncompressed responses despite using perfectly capable browsers. Google reported the issue and offered a suggestion to mitigate it at Velocity 2009 and 2010. In this post Marcel offers an alternative way to force compression to browsers that support it although their request headers report they don’t.

Performance is important, but so is our time. If we work smarter, we don’t have to spend a lot of time performing the same simple optimizations over and over again. Setting up an efficient build process can help reduce the complexity and time involved in maintaining a high performing site. Tim shows us how to use Phing, the PHP tool for building projects, and how to configure it to take care of performance-related tasks such as minification, concatenation and image smushing.

4th
Dec 2010

Wim Leers on real performance monitoring (RPM) vs. synthetic performance monitoring (SPM).

What does latency mean exactly and does it really matter? The truth about the seemingly abundant bandwidth and how much it really helps the page loading speed. Let Éric guide you through the ABCs of TCP, UDP, HTTP, DNS, ISP, SYN-ACK and … did we just ran out of alphabet?

2nd
Dec 2010

A “full-stack programmer” is a generalist, someone who can create a non-trivial application by themselves. People who develop broad skills also tend to develop a good mental model of how different layers of a system behave. This turns out to be especially valuable for performance and optimization work. No one can know everything about everything, but you should be able to visualize what happens up and down the stack as an application does its thing.

Pat Meenan, creator of WebPagetest, analyzes the last 6 months of data from the test runs to draw the picture of where we are as an industry at the end of 2010. Have the pages grown in size compared to 2008, do we gzip, keep-alive, CDN?