High Performance Web Sites
March 12, 2009 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Steve Souders works on web performance and open source initiatives. His book, High Performance Web Sites, explains his best practices for performance, and is a bestseller. Steve is the creator of YSlow, the performance analysis extension to Firebug. He always shares best practices, for example, 14 Rules for Faster-Loading Web Sites, and the very informative State of Performance featuring his predictions for web performance in 2009.

Steve links many of his industry presentations, and his blog is a wealth of studies, reports, techniques, and tips for measuring, monitoring and improving web site performance. Check out Episodes, a framework for timing web pages with examples to put in your code. Geek Nirvana.

High Performance Web Sites
posted by netbros (13 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
What I need is a tool for reporting which of your extensions are making firefox slow.
posted by alexei at 4:56 AM on March 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

We referenced his book a lot at my old work. Many of these things are frequently overlooked when building websites, which is really silly if you think about it because some of these make more of a performance difference than using memcached or optimizing SQL queries because they eliminate entire requests. Gzipping content and setting correct Expires headers goes a long way.
posted by bertrandom at 5:33 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pha! I can barely learn enough to create the website. This tool shows me so much that I bogged down in the tiny technicalities and never get it done.
The tool looks great and I don't know enough to be able to interpret all the info it gives you.
posted by Drasher at 6:14 AM on March 12, 2009

posted by slater at 6:24 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I read 'web performace', I thought it would feature him wearing a horse head mask, cooking mushrooms to a videogame soundtrack, mostly in the nude.

Interesting links regardless, Netbros! Thanks!
posted by davemee at 6:40 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Give it a second! It's going to space.
posted by davebush at 6:44 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

davemee: that is exactly what I thought as well. Not exactly that image, but yeah, web performance at first glance to me means a performance on the medium of the web, not the quality of the web's performance. Don't ask what I expected to see when I first saw a reference to Performance Bicycle (the bike parts and accessories retailer).
posted by idiopath at 7:22 AM on March 12, 2009

State of Performance 2008 is a fascinating read. Even if you're not a web developer, just somebody with a blog or promoting your product with AdWords, you should at least skim it. It's not all abstruse geek stuff, and it affects your presence on the Internet.
posted by ardgedee at 7:41 AM on March 12, 2009

> The tool looks great and I don't know enough to be able to interpret all the info it gives you.

YSlow is a great tool. But not all of it applies to you. Start with the recommendations you understand, and learn as you go.

Most of us web developers work at the low end of the web industry; building brochureware, blogs, and content-managed sites for which a high-traffic day is in the 300 page hits range -- meaning, typically, one page load per minute during peak traffic and entire hours of idleness. So recommendations for high-volume sites wouldn't be useful: For example, Content Delivery Networks distribute your site across multiple servers so that nobody in North America (or the world, depending on the scale of service) has to wait for their page request and response to travel across continents.

On the other hand, recommendations for improving how the browser assembles the HTML, CSS, Javascript, and images into a finished web page make browsers render your pages faster, even if the pieces don't arrive faster, and there's good advice there for everybody.
posted by ardgedee at 8:06 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've worked at some web firms and I am always amazed at the amount of overhead people will blissfully throw into even the simplest project for no reason other than "it's the way I know how to do it."

Using a MySQL database and querying it on every page just to get a subset of the same 10k of data every time. Using PHP just because they needed to include a piece of external text. Starting with Ruby and Rails and JQuery and lord knows what else all before making the world's simplest staff directory web page. 200K of overhead and seventy-nine processes forking off all over the map before they even load their simple little 3K web page.

I've read the book, and it's good, but really what a lot of novice and even young "professional" web developers need is a little bit of freaking common sense.
posted by rokusan at 8:39 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

"... web developers need [a] little bit of freaking common sense."

What? People who jumped on a bandwagon with minimal skills, almost no understanding of the underlying mechanisms of their trade, the capabilities of their environments, and a tendency to gloss over fundamentals in favor of following a poorly written "In 21 Days" book engage in cargo cult engineering? Really?

This is yet another case of "Those who do not understand UNIX are doomed to reinvent it. Poorly." A 40 line shell script, a tab delimited text file, two shots of bourbon, and an entry in crontab could replace half of what passes for a web application these days, but apparently Eclipse doesn't have a template for generating COMMON SENSE from UML.

Yeah, you kids get offa my lawn before tmpreaper(8) comes.
posted by majick at 9:55 AM on March 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

"Cargo cult engineering" just made my day. Exactly.

I need to drink with you, magick. Lots.
posted by rokusan at 9:26 PM on March 12, 2009

I'm sure someone from work is going to read that and when I get into the office on Monday my desk will be replaced with bamboo simulacra and there'll be coconut headphones waiting for me.
posted by majick at 7:21 AM on March 13, 2009

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