I Made a Map of the Internet - And Other Lessons About Speeding Up Websites

Tom Croucher (Uber)
Development, Focus on Cloud Computing
Location: 2006 Level:
Presentation: external link
Average rating: ***..
(3.31, 26 ratings)

How do we choose which part of our system to optimize? Stanford algorithms legend Donald Knuth is famously quoted as saying
“Premature Optimization is the root of all evil”. And yet where is the research showing where we should optimize our sites? Steve Souders made a groundbreaking discovery at Yahoo! when he realized that the most critical, and under-examined, part of web site optimization was the front-end. However while there is lots of great performance research, we still make plenty of assumption about what to optimize.

I have made a map of everything involved in getting from your computer, via your ISP, to a web site and back. It’s exhaustive, but that’s the point. Where the heck should we optimize?

This talk will take the audience on a journey through the guts of the internet. They will learn:

  • Hidden dangers in wifi
  • How they really connect to their ISP
  • The mysteries of DNS
  • The hop-skip-and-jump of navigating the Internet to request a web page
  • Exactly how CDNs speed up getting images and other files

After we’ve taken a good hard look how the internet really works we’ll try to figure out what we can about where we should be focusing our attempts to improve performance. This will look at how we can test things like:

  • Remote Caches (ISP, etc)
  • DNS response times for users
  • Wifi reliability
  • Does latency matter?

Finally we are going to explore practical and experimental stuff that the participants can apply to their sites to improve performance from old favorites like YSlow and Page Speed to new techniques like:

  • MHTML and iframes
  • HTTP pipelining
  • DNS prefetching
  • the SPDY protocol

This is a technical session for intermediate → advanced developers. The talk should be somewhat accessible to more novice developers but they may have to spend more time catching up on the material afterwards.

Photo of Tom Croucher

Tom Croucher


Tom Hughes-Croucher is an Evangelist and Senior Developer in Yahoo’s Open Strategy Group, focusing on Yahoo’s Web Services and Cloud Platform. Tom has contributed to a number of Web standards for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the British Standards Institute (BSI). Previously he helped build the online music stores for some of the UK’s largest brands including Tesco, Three Telecom and Channel 4.

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John Fukuda
05/07/2010 7:24am PDT

Very good presentation, with several helpful tools and tips. More time would have been nice but he did point out some resources that can be helpful to anyone.

Picture of Melvin Ryan Fetalvero
Melvin Ryan Fetalvero
05/06/2010 9:32am PDT

The material that was covered was relevant, but I agree with the others that there was just not enough time to cover everything.

William McCormick
05/05/2010 7:25am PDT

We only covered the first segment of what was outlined. I got the bad but not the solutions.

Picture of Thomas Hornick
Thomas Hornick
05/04/2010 4:02am PDT

Tom had a lot of good data. Time didn’t allow for all of it to be presented and understood.

Mattie Langenberg
05/04/2010 3:18am PDT

Tom’s presentation was a great overview of the state of the Internet today.

Lance Rigdon
05/04/2010 3:10am PDT

The speaker was great but the session description was misleading. There was not discussion of how to optimize rathe just a review of the complexity of the Internet. I’d give the speaker a three or four star rating but the session itself I gave it a two.

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