We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. upcoming SmashingConf New York, dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.
Today we’ll discuss how to improve the paint performance of your websites and Web apps. This is an area that we Web developers have only recently started looking at more closely, and it’s important because it could have an impact on your user engagement and user experience.
Frame rate is the rate at which a device produces consecutive images to the screen. A low frames per second (FPS) means that individual frames can be made out by the eye. A high FPS gives users a more responsive feel. You’re probably used to this concept from the world of gaming, but it applies to the Web, too.
Many of us care deeply about developing our craft. But staying up to date can be a true challenge, because the quantity of fresh information we’re regularly exposed to can be a lot to take in. 2012 has been no exception, with a wealth of evolution and refinement going on in the front end.
Great strides have been made in how we approach workflow, use abstractions, appreciate code quality and tackle the measurement and betterment of performance. If you’ve been busy and haven’t had time to catch up on the latest developments in these areas, don’t worry.
Whether it’s V8, SpiderMonkey (Firefox), Carakan (Opera), Chakra (IE) or something else, doing so can help you better optimize your applications. That's not to say one should optimize for a single browser or engine. Never do that. There are many common pitfalls when it comes to writing memory-efficient and fast code, and in this article we’re going to explore some test-proven approaches for writing code that performs better.
When writing a web application from scratch, it’s easy to feel like we can get by simply by relying on a DOM manipulation library (like jQuery) and a handful of utility plugins. The problem with this is that it doesn’t take long to get lost in a nested pile of jQuery callbacks and DOM elements without any real structure in place for our applications.
Many of us rely on open source tools, technologies and standards to help improve the work we do on a daily basis. None of this would however be possible without the hard work, commitment and dedication that others, just like you, have invested in giving back to the Web community over the past two decades.
Modernizr, HTML5 Boilerplate and jQuery are just a few examples of well known projects which were born from a desire to put something out there that could help others on the Web do more. These projects evolved because developers started using them and thought, “Hey, I could do something to help make this better. I bet it could save someone else’s time if I shared this with the world.”
Before we start, I’d like to pose a question: when was the last time you asked someone to review your code? Reviewing code is possibly the single best technique to improve the overall quality of your solutions, and if you’re not actively taking advantage of it, then you’re missing out on identifying bugs and hearing suggestions that could make your code better.
None of us write 100% bug-free code all of the time, so don’t feel there’s a stigma attached to seeking help. Some of the most experienced developers in our industry, from framework authors to browser developers, regularly request reviews of their code from others; asking whether something could be tweaked should in no way be considered embarrassing. Reviews are a technique like any other and should be used where possible.
Plugin development has evolved over the past few years. We no longer have just one way to write plugins, but many. In reality, certain patterns might work better for a particular problem or component than others. Some developers may wish to use the jQuery UI widget factory; it’s great for complex, flexible UI components. Some may not. Some might like to structure their plugins more like modules (similar to the module pattern) or use a more formal module format such as AMD. And so on.
In a perfect world, cross-browser testing would be straightforward. We would download a legacy version of a browser, run it, and be able to instantly test our pages and scripts without a single care in the world. The reality of cross-browser testing, though, is very different. Issues such as runtime conflicts when running multiple versions of the same browser and inaccurate third-party testing tools mean we can spend hours just evaluating whether a testing set-up is anywhere near reliable.
I’m a user-interface developer at AOL (yes, we’re not dead yet!), and in this multi-part post I’ll take you through the exact set-up we use to accurately test content that will be potentially viewed by up to millions of users with a very diverse set of browsers. This set-up is similar to the one used by some of my colleagues at Opera, Mozilla and Google, so, fingers crossed, we’re doing this optimally.