Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Web page size still matters?

MarkTaw made a comment in another thread that his employer likes to "shave a few bytes off every web page served".

I've seen pages like this: no indentation, no unnecessary closing tags, no alt tags for images... all to save a couple of K on what's already a minimal download, especially if images are involved.

I can't imagine it making that big a difference in downloading time, even over a modem, and I thought that serious, high volume hosting deals dealt with the difference between single and dual T1s, or T3s, not byte transfers.  It strikes me as a phantom concern.

Or am I missing something?

Justin Johnson
Sunday, July 25, 2004

There are web events where thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of hits per second are the norm on a bad day.

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Thousands of hits per second... only if you're lucky enough to run a very high traffic and most likely profitable website.

But the best reason to still be shaving the download size is that most web users still don't have broadband. If you're trying to make a commodity offering that it's important. If you're making an intranet where you know that everyone is on the LAN or broadband link, then it amounts to a complete waste of developer effort.

Arron Bates
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Page size still mattera, but not to the extent of cutting on alt attributes or closing tags. High traffic or not.

Egor
Monday, July 26, 2004

Perhaps everyone who has posted here so far misses the fact that pretty much all webpages are gzipped by the server and automatically decompressed by your browser on the other end.

So if you think you're saving a few bytes here and there by cutting out tabs or spaces or alt tags -- chances are, your not saving as much as you think.  And if your server isn't gzipping content you are wasting bandwidth and not saving as much as you could be.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, July 26, 2004

Usually only on static pages though.

Matthew Lock
Monday, July 26, 2004

Matt good catch. However if you are able to cache the entire dynamically generated stream it is still possible to benefit from compresion. Especially important is dynamic content that can predictably announce a proper expiration date (allowing for caching too by a properly designed proxy network).

Li-fan Chen
Monday, July 26, 2004

Yep, or just generate static files everytime you update the content (Like CityDesk) as opposed to regenerating it everytime someone requests the page.

Matthew Lock
Monday, July 26, 2004

>MarkTaw made a comment in another thread that his >employer likes to "shave a few bytes off every web page
>served".

Not my employer, Google.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, July 26, 2004

> if you're lucky enough to run a very high traffic and most likely profitable website

What's profit got to do with it? Plenty of websites exist which are not intended to make profits.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Yep, I often use opera on my mobile to browse the web. I have a fat(ish) pipe at home but when out and about I'm bandwidth poor.
It's useful to be able to check a website for a map or to find someones phone number.
Alt tags on images however are a good idea as I often browse without, so chopping those is a bad idea.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, July 26, 2004

shaving a few bytes off a website is all good and dandy but please do it at the right places. nothing is gained when you omit closing tags and the alt attribute but still create the layout with tables and blind gif images.

switch to an all xhtml/css design and you can save more bandwidth than you can ever imagine and make your site more accessible along the way (yes, accessible as in accessible for search engines).

see this article on a list apart: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/slashdot/ on a makeover of the evil slashdot.org. by recreating the design with css they would save roughly 3 gb on traffic and even 14 gb when the css file is cached (based on 50 million pages per month, a figure from june 2000).

Ron
Monday, July 26, 2004

Yeah, I agree that CSS will save us an amazing amount of bandwidth... as soon as I'm comfortable that every browser in the world will render it. Probably in 5 years when Netscape 4 is truly dead dead dead.

I also agree that not closing tags, or not using ALT tags is just plain stupid. Hey, want to really save some bandwidth? Stop using images for submit buttons.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, July 26, 2004

>no unnecessary closing tags

You mean, unnecessary by not following standards?

Ken Ray
Monday, July 26, 2004

It can make a reasonable difference, but it should be used with a host of other ways of reducing page size.  I've just looked at the size of www.dilbert.com  The html is 36KB, thats excluding images.  The modem user will have to wait a few seconds to download the html before the browser will know there are images to download.

It's also possible to have html that will be drawn quicker, like tables with specific widths.  That way some of the page will be drawn while the rest is still downloading.  This can make a big difference as the user sees a response much quicker.

Steven
Monday, July 26, 2004

"You mean, unnecessary by not following standards?"

ah, the difference between HTML and XHTML eh?

In HTML many closing tags are optional, with implicit closure as necessary, as are many openning tags.  And it was the difficulty of grokking this that lead to the championing of XHTML iirc.  But that was a few years ago now, so my memory is hazy.  Did anyone start using XHTML? lol

i like i
Monday, July 26, 2004

eBay serves 400 million pages a day (give or take a few).  I imagine that shaving a few bytes off each page is very important to them.

example
Monday, July 26, 2004

"Usually only on static pages though."

Err...  the compression filter runs after dynamic code generation on most pages.  So yes, all static and dynamic pages are compressed.

NEXT!

Almost Anonymous
Monday, July 26, 2004

I thought the "A List Apart" article was great right up until I read this:

For this example, the total yearly savings for Slashdot would be: $3,650 USD!

The question is how much would it cost SlashDot to retool their entire website to conform to the standards?

Web designers required to make the changes would be expensive, bandwidth gets cheaper every year.

Andrew
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Size matters:

www.web-impulse.com (12k believe it or not).

BTW for you non flashers..gimme a break...get a real PC!

Jonny Boy
Sunday, August 01, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home