Even Faster Web Sites: Performance Best Practices for Web Developers

Even Faster Web Sites: Performance Best Practices for Web Developers
Steve Souders
18 Jun 2009
Purchase online

Performance is critical to the success of any web site, and yet today's web applications push browsers to their limits with increasing amounts of rich content and heavy use of Ajax. In this book, Steve Souders, web performance evangelist at Google and former Chief Performance Yahoo!, provides valuable techniques to help you optimize your site's performance.

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  1. Editorial Reviews
  2. Customer Reviews

Customer Reviews

Anthony Holdener said
Today's Web developer knows that the speed of one's site is an important measure to its overall success, and Steve Souders' previous book, /High Performance Web Sites/ (O'Reilly), laid out what seemed to be every way to achieve good performance gains without the sacrifice of functionality or aesthetics. When I began reading Souders' /Even Faster Web Sites/, I therefore wondered how he could possibly demonstrate fresh ways to achieve performance gains without regurgitating the content of his previous book. What I discovered as I read /Even Faster Web Sites/ was it presented all new best practices for making your web sites "leaner and meaner" without repeating the content of his last book.

/Even Faster Web Sites/ takes the latest techniques available to developers and organizes them into three performance areas: JavaScript, network, and browser. Though I believe Souder knows what he is talking about regarding web site performance, I found it refreshing this time around that he had the contributions of other experts in the field to give their ideas on performance gains in these areas.

I thought the chapters on JavaScript, especially those discussing Ajax and asynchronous techniques, were well written and gave good, new best practices to trim time off the loading of content on a site. I also appreciated the chapter dealing with Comet, as these technologies are surely a driving force for future web applications, and having best practices early in their development will only help their progress. Of the two chapters on browser performance, I found the honesty of the discussion on the downsides of using iframes most helpful, especially when their use was discussed as a viable technique for improving performance early in the book. I did find the chapter on CSS selectors extremely useful for analyzing where slowdowns in styling may exist based on browser implementation. The chapters on network performance gave a good background on common hindrances such as connection limits and poor image choices, but also walked through what I felt were performance gains that can be made through less utilized techniques like chunked encoding and better compression.

Souder finished this book with an Appendix on performance tools that can be used to help in the improvement of a web site, which I found to be immensely helpful. While many tools he listed are well known to developers, there are some I was unaware of and began making use of immediately on my own sites.

/Even Faster Web Sites/ is an excellent follow-up to High Performance Web Sites, giving new best practices for making your web sites even faster. As I see it, even hundredths of a second begin to add up when you put all of these techniques together, and most of the techniques presented in this book are practical for any web site being developed. I would recommend this book to any developer looking for ways to improve the performance of his web site, as Souder has certainly demonstrated his knowledge and expertise on improving the speed of a site.

Scott Galloway said
This, along with the previous book is truly an essential for any web developer. Get it, read it, live it.

Brett Merkey said
I don't think I have had a book this intriguing and valuable in my hand in a long while. You will harvest a measurable return on investment from "Even Faster Web Sites" if you are concerned with both the technical implementation and user experience aspects of your Web work.

Chapter 4 (Loading Scripts Without Blocking) introduces and reviews several ways that the referencing of scripts can degrade page performance and user experience. Test pages are provided to make clear each assertion by the author. After the *problem* is clarified, the author discusses alternative solutions and their impact on a range of circumstances. The details can get involved, but the writing is clear and focused. The ends that *you* need are kept to the fore. Souders summarizes all his tests in a decision tree that gives you the preferred approach depending on your requirements. That decision tree and the motivations behind it in this chapter alone reduce the price of this book to insignificance.

Any Web team with a copy of this book handy will surely waste less time debating "truisms" and "old developer lore" that often intrudes into our discussions. Souders and the other contributing authors have done us a great service here.

D. Vinge said
I've produced Web sites for 15 years. In the "old days" it was routine to test new Web pages on a dial-up connection. Today few developers have access to dial-up for testing. Yes you can load test and calculate the time to render a page on different connections but you'll miss the look in the developers eyes while he stares at the screen waiting for a page to render. It's a good way to be sure that developers experience their work from the customers point-of-view, all customers.

So the next time you're told by a developer, "oh it doesn't matter, everyone has broadband" take away their broadband for a week and make them read this book while waiting for their pages to load.

This book provides practical instruction on how to optimize your code for a better user experience, on broadband or not. This is written for developers but is also useful information for business managers who can demand faster performance from their Web sites and their developers.

Douglas Crockford said
Chapter 1. Understanding Ajax Performance, Douglas Crockford.
Chapter 2. Creating Responsive Web Applications, Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer.
Chapter 3. Splitting the Initial Payload.
Chapter 4. Loading Scripts Without Blocking.
Chapter 5. Coupling Asynchronous Scripts.
Chapter 6. Positioning Inline Scripts.
Chapter 7. Writing Efficient JavaScript, Nicholas C. Zakas.
Chapter 8. Scaling with Comet, Dylan Schiemann.
Chapter 9. Going Beyond Gzipping, Tony Gentilcore.
Chapter 10. Optimizing Images, Stoyan Stefanov and Nicole Sullivan.
Chapter 11. Sharding Dominant Domains.
Chapter 12. Flushing the Document Early.
Chapter 13. Using Iframes Sparingly.
Chapter 14. Simplifying CSS Selectors.
Appendix. Performance Tools.

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