PCPlus 317: Optimise your web pages

Although this article appeared in January 2012, I wrote it in November the previous year. How do I know? Because I talk about the Kindle Fire I’d just received (I’d pre-ordered it) and about the Amazon Silk browser. In essence I wanted to talk about how Silk optimized (or not – it gets very subjective) the display of web pages.

PCPlus logoTo begin with I had to talk about how browsers find, download, and render a web page in the first place. I discuss a bit of DNS, the name of a root document, redirection, requesting other content and resources (CSS, JavaScript, and image files) that the page markup defines and requires, yadda, yadda. A pretty standard discussion, really.

After that I get into an analysis of Silk. In essence, because of the limited amount of storage on the Fire, Silk uses Amazon’s cloud servers to cache web pages and their resources (the original Kindle Fire had but 8GB of memory). There’s also a bit of compression and optimization that goes on with Silk to reduce the amount of traffic back to the Fire to, in theory, make rendering of a web page appreciably faster. Except I didn’t get the impression in my testing that the improvements were noticeable at all. So I switched this optimization off after a couple of days and never went back to it. I’ve just received a new Kindle Fire HD 7 and, although it has the same Silk optimizations (but even more so!), I still can’t detect any difference, so again I’ve turned it off. It also helps with the security and privacy issues that people worry about.

All in all, in re-reading it after 15 months or so, I must say the article seems a little lightweight to me. Browsers have got a lot better about how they load and parse/execute JavaScript files for example (and developers have got better at how they declare and use them), and I’m surprised that I don’t even state the best (perceived) optimization you can make with regard to where to place JavaScript files in a page’s markup: at the end of the body element. Still, let’s call it a reasonable layman’s review about what happens in the browser when you visit a web page.

This article first appeared in issue 317, January 2012.

You can read the PDF here.

(I used to write a monthly column for PCPlus, a computer news-views-n-reviews magazine in the UK, which sadly is no longer published. The column was called Theory Workshop and appeared in the Make It section of the magazine. When I signed up, my editor and the magazine were gracious enough to allow me to reprint the articles here after say a year or so.)

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Was (Not Was) - Robot Girl
(from What Up, Dog?)


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