Thursday, December 3rd, 2009p>
“View Source is your friend”, we’ve learned countless times as web developers. It’s something special about web development that we can seamlessly lift the covers on anything we see and find out how the sausage is made. And it gets even better with great tools to interrogate the system in real-time. This capability has helped us evolve practices and patterns, and contributed to the production of many a fine browser extension and Greasemonkey script.
Google’s Let’s Make the Web Faster initiative is a case in point. Here is a multi-pronged attack on the performance issue, involving new protocols (SPDY), tools (PageSpeed), browser improvements (Chrome), on-demand loading (Closure), and – most pertinent – compression techniques (Closure again). And we ain’t seen nothing yet; there’s every reason to believe Google will soon be putting its money where its mouth is, by rewarding faster sites with higher rankings. (I guess I was alone in assuming they always did that.) While performance should always be a consideration for site owners, a dangling SEO carrot would no doubt convert the best of intentions into the most concrete of actions.
I can’t speculate on the waning of View Source without mentioning the tremendous counter-balancing act played out by Open Source. From the get-go, open source has played a vital role in Ajax, with individuals and companies releasing code for all sorts of reasons. Most of this is library and framework code, rather than production-ready applications, so we might lose something there, but we still have much to gain from the ever-growing corpus of code that’s out there, free to be studied and incorporated into our own applications.