Web Performance Calendar

The speed geek's favorite time of year
2021 Edition

Stoyan (@stoyanstefanov) is a former Facebook and Yahoo! engineer, writer ("JavaScript Patterns", "React: Up and Running"), speaker (JSConf, Velocity, Fronteers), toolmaker (Smush.it, YSlow 2.0) and a guitar hero wannabe.

Even if you’re not superstitious, after you’ve been doing something for 13 years, it may be as good time as any to stop and look back. And forward too.

The Calendar

This Web Performance (Advent) Calendar started as an impulse, in December 2009 I started writing one article a day and kept going. No idea I had so many unorganized thoughts and unfinished research that just needed the slight push of a self-imposed deadline to come to light. Luckily too a few wonderful people joined in the fun to help the count get to 24.

Next year the whole initiative moved to its new home with many more contributors and variety of content. Where the first edition was a bit of a WebPerf 101 the second was a lot more diverse. And I didn’t even have to write anything!

And year after year, the train kept going. The whole thing didn’t get more organized or standardized. There was no peer review, no proposal/approval process, just a free for all. Reminds me of Los Angeles, sprawling all over the place with zero overall plan. If you’re passionate enough to write about performance, I have a home for you. Somehow the self-selecting nature of the process was enjoyable and seemed to work. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I had to turn people down. Basically only reposts and sales pitches were out.

The Feed/Home

An RSS aggregation (based on now defuct Yahoo! Pipes) of web performance blogs also appeared into the world. It used to be on the top-level domain, but has since moved to feed.perfplanet.com. If you know of a blog that should be in the feed but isn’t, send a pull request, please.

I took some time after last year’s calendar edition to redesign the feed, the calendar and the homepage, bye-bye year 2009, hello… something else, whatever you are.

The Podcast

Almost forgot, the podcast happened too. I admit it can be more regular in terms of episodes, but I don’t want to do a weekly publication or similar, because I don’t want to run a media agency. But maybe I’m wrong, let me know.

I like it to be just talking to people in the industry and I like to do it in person, which lately has been a challenge because of a certain global pandemic. (Psst, the pandemic is an excuse, I still have unreleased episodes)

The Future

So here we are, after 13 years of the Calendar, I wonder should it keep going or year 13 should be the last? Things have changed, undoubtedly. The industry, the people, the companies, the Web itself. The way we communicate and consume content.

For example blog comments used to be a place where people exchanged ideas. The most commented-on post in the Calendar has 166 comments, but lots of the older ones have 40+ comments. Today it’s more like 1 or 2. And then there’s spam, to the point where any comments not in the current edition are hidden to discourage further spamming. I looked into this in 2017, seemed to me it’s just about the nature of blogging in general, not specific to the Calendar. I speculate that discussions have moved to news aggregation sites like Reddit and Hacker News (I don’t spend enough time on Twitter or Slack to be able to judge those).

And we’ve had “hits” on these sites, usually one or two articles per edition make it to the top of Hacker News.

So anyway, back to the question – is the Advent format the best way to exchange ideas and research? I think it’s a good way to launch stuff (and we’ve launched tools and things in the past) because of the inherent deadline-ish nature of it. But other than that?

Also now we have the Web Almanac that provides plenty of food for thought during the winter solstice holidays.

Other ideas

A few additional ideas I’ve been thinking and discussing with folks can be launching separate initiatives under the PerfPlanet.com umbrella (or portal, if you will):

  • A curated feed. Something like what Ajaxian used to be. Grab interesting ideas from the feed and highlight the important posts with a few comments. I like this, I’m just not sure I can maintain the stream consistently by myself.
  • Resources. Something like a mix of a wiki and a list of links. All tagged. Like “image formats” and “async CSS”. If someone needs to learn about a topic, they can hit the corresponding tag and get a list of important and informative articles to read elsewhere. Like wpostats.com but for all things Web Perf, not just biz.
  • A job board
  • A year-round blog, basically transition from December-only to whenever, still powered by community contributions.

Let me know

What do you think? What am I missing?

Or if you just want to keep up, add your email to the mailing list on perfplanet.com.

2 Responses to “13 years of PerfPlanet, what next?”

  1. Steven

    I look forward to the yearly updates as they typically provide topics that I don’t regularly see. A lot of time I see articles on how to improve things (many of which are very light on details and only touch on the subject to generate traffic it seems), but I rarely see articles that ask the questions of why it is happening, is it the right thing to look at, or perhaps what the alternatives are. I remember an article from a few years ago that talked about the frustration index. That opened my eyes about how to view performance. It’s more than simply making something faster, but rather making it faster in the right way.

    I remember an anecdote about an airline terminal in Texas (I believe) that was suffering form customer complaints about how it took 15 minutes to once getting off the plane before the bags reached the baggage claim area. The people in charge at the airport determined the issue was that the arrivals were stopping right near the baggage claim, and the process took 15 minutes no matter what. Their “solution” was to make the arrivals deplane much further from the baggage claim. Passengers would walk 10 minutes to the baggage claim, and behold, they would get their bags in only 5 minutes instead of 15 minutes. That lead to a huge drop off in complaints because the travelers were not waiting around as much. While not actually improving the process at all, it goes to show you that the perceived waiting time mattered to people and frustrated them.

    Likewise, tasks are always going to take time, and we can try and improve response times by milliseconds, but at the end of the day its the customer’s perception of how things are loading that makes a difference. It’s not enough to have a blazing fast First Contentful Paint if you don’t see the Largest Contentful Paint for a long time.

  2. Jens Oliver Meiert

    Please keep it up! The WPC is a little institution by now.

    Let us and the community know how to support!

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