Two years ago, I wrote about how making the entire web fast is the real challenge. How only the big few companies are able to have very fast websites, because only they have the resources to optimize for performance. Many (if not most) organizations are happy just to have a functioning, decent looking site.
In that article, I said I thought that if we made the most popular CMSes faster by default. That would go a long way to make the majority of the web faster. Then less technical users do not need to know about the many arcane switches and knobs just to get the intended performance. No more “oh but you didn’t set it up correctly/optimally” — or at least far less of it.
Drupal 8: fast by default on many fronts
Since that article two years ago I’ve been working with >3300 other contributors to get the next version of Drupal done. Drupal 8 was released a month ago and is much faster by default.
All of the following changes improve perceived performance and Drupal 8 has all of them enabled by default:
- more efficient AJAX requests: less data in both requests & responses
- fragment caching
- page caching for anonymous users
- partial page caching for all (anonymous and authenticated) users
… and for those last three fast defaults, each of which does caching: they don’t ever serve stale content.
More fast defaults coming in minor Drupal 8 releases
We also paved the path for more optimizations to land in upcoming minor versions:
- automatically use BigPipe for the dynamic/personalized/uncacheable parts of the page, have the initial part of the page sent immediately, thanks to the aforementioned partial page caching
- responsive images: already supported but not enabled by default
- HTTP/2 server push of assets: we already have a dependency graph of all assets — we’re mostly blocked on HTTP/2 servers actually supporting this.
There are of course many additional defaults that would help Drupal 8 be even faster by default, such as:
- optimal image compression
- automatic inlining of critical CSS
WordPress 4.4: responsive images by default
WordPress has made one significant change to improve performance: responsive images are enabled by default since the 4.4 release a week ago. Sadly, that’s the only significant WPO change in 2 years. (Six significant releases were made: versions 3.8 through 4.4.)
Joomla 3.x: status quo
So, Drupal has put a lot of effort into making version 8 fast by default. As Drupal 8 is rolled out, hundreds of thousands of sites will become faster.
Hopefully other CMSes (and frameworks) will follow.