mPulse

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thoughts on Web Performance at the Browser

Last week, lost in the preternatural shriek that emerged from the Web community around the release of Google Chrome, John Resig posted a thoughtful post on resources usage at the browser. In it, he states that the use of the Process Manager in Chrome will change how people see Web performance. In his words:

The blame of bad performance or memory consumption no longer lies with the browser but with the site.



Coming to the discussion from the realm of Web performance measurement, I realize that the firms I have worked with and for have not done a good job of analyzing this , and, in the name of science have tried to eliminate the variability of Web page processing from the equation.

The company I currently work for has realized that this is a gap and has released a product that measures the performance of a page in the browser.

But all of this misses the point, and goes to one of the reasons why I gave up on Chrome on my older, personal-use computer: Chrome exposes the individual load that a page places on a Web browser.

Resig highlights that browser that make use of shared resources shift the blame about poor performance out to the browser and away from the design of the page. Technologies that modern designers lean on (Flash, AJAX, etc.) all require substantially greater resource-consumption in a browser. Chrome, for good or ill, exposes this load to the user be instantiating a separate, sand-boxed process for each tab, clearing indicating which page is the culprit.

It will be interesting if designers take note of this, or ignore in pursuit of the latest shiny toy that gets released. While designers assume that all visitors run the cutting edge of machine, I can show them that a laptop that is still plenty useful is completely locked up when their page is handled in isolation.

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