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© December 2007 Anthony Lawrence

Speed up your site

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I liked the point that was made in this books foreword: if you don't think site speed matters, put in some code that artificially delays loading your pages for ten seconds - and report back in a week..

I expected that there would be a lot in here about tuning Apache and IIS, but no, this is pretty much all about things you'd do to your pages, your images, your javascript (if you do want Apache tuning info, see Web Performance Tuning and Vishnu Ram's Configuring Apache for Maximum Performance).

You might wonder what on earth could be said about this subject that requires a book. After all, isn't it pretty obvious? You speed up pages by cutting down on their size - eliminate unnecessary graphics, eliminate Javascript, compress any images you simply have to use.. isn't that about it?

Well, yes and no. Yes, it is all about trimming the fat, but how and what you trim are worth detailed discussion. And yet..

The world is changing. You can't compete on the modern net without graphics and Javascript. The author argues that it will be years before we see the end of dial-up modems, and that may be true, but for a lot of us, it doesn't matter: we can no longer get by with bare text and no pictures. Even Google advertising, which used to be pure text, is moving more and more to graphics, and of course dragging us with it. So when I read this, I see that yes, I can still kick a few bytes out here and there, but hundreds of bytes of graphics are going to load regardless, so it seems pretty pointless.

I'm not happy about that. Realistically I realize that the overwhelming majority of visitors here have at least DSL speed and most probably have much better. Yet I still hate to think of some poor person stuck on a 56K modem trying to pull down this page - it could easily be 30 seconds before it's all done. Of course a good chunk of text should appear quickly, and I can at least hope that would keep them happy.. maybe.

The book does talk about mod_perl, which I should use (and have just been lazy about) and gzip encoding, which I never even thought about until reading this. but that's hardly the only advice I found interesting here.. and yet, again, that push from reality: for most readers nowadays, a few hundred thousand bytes doesn't matter. For regular readers, it matters even less, because a lot of it will be cached..

So, overall, what do I think? Probably still worth reading, but I'm not going to get slimmed down to the 34K page size that the author considers "ideal". I am going to think about breaking some of the very largest pages into sections, but people don't like that either (I don't like it myself).

What's your thought? Is the web too bloated? Are you still stuck on dialup and cursing pages like this? What's to be done about it?

Tony Lawrence 2007-12-20 Rating: 4.0

Amazon Order (or just read more about) Speed Up Your Site  from Amazon.com

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-> Speeding up your website - is it really necessary?


Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

Take Control of Pages

Take Control of Numbers

Take Control of Automating Your Mac

Digital Sharing Crash Course

El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course

More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Thu Dec 20 20:05:19 2007: 3343   Niall

I've found YSlow to be very helpful in this area:


Requires Firefox with Firebug installed.

Fri Dec 21 03:39:18 2007: 3344   TonyLawrence

Nice.. thanks for the tip!


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