All posts tagged ‘Page Speed’

File Under: servers, Web Services

Google’s Speed Tools for Apache Web Server Hit 1.0

mod_pagespeed, streaking through a living room near you. Image: Kevin Dooley/Flickr.

After nearly two years of testing and improving, Google is removing the beta label and releasing mod_pagespeed 1.0. The mod_pagespeed tool is Google’s open source effort to speed up websites running on the popular Apache web server. Pagespeed automatically optimizes pages and their resources, making websites load faster.

No one likes waiting for a websites to load. It doesn’t seem like fractions of a second would matter, but survey after survey tells the same story: On the web it’s instant gratification or we’re gone. Not only do your visitors dislike waiting on pages, Google dislikes sending people to pages they’re going to have to wait on and it penalizes slow-loading sites accordingly.

If you’d like to get mod_pagespeed up and running on your own server, head over to the mod_pagespeed site, which has downloads and detailed installation instructions. Google’s Ilya Grigorik also has a nice overview of how to automate web performance with mod_pagespeed on his blog.

Despite the beta label that’s been attached to it for two years, Google says that over 120,000 websites are already using mod_pagespeed, including big-name web hosting companies like Dreamhost and content delivery networks like EdgeCast.

Google’s mod_pagespeed is part of the company’s PageSpeed Optimization Libraries, a set of tools for web developers to test and improve page load times. Other tools include the PageSpeed Service, which essentially does all the hard work of optimizing your pages for you, and PageSpeed Insights, an analytics tool that offers suggestions on how you can improve your site’s load times.

File Under: Web Basics, Web Services

Google’s New Page Speed Tool Speeds Up Your Website

Page Speed’s rewriter is done before the unoptimized version even starts loading images. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Google has added yet another trick to the company’s Page Speed web optimization service — a page rewriter that turbocharges your site by making sure that your visible, above-the-fold content loads before anything else.

Google started on its web optimization quest with the Page Speed browser extension, then it moved the Page Speed tool online with an API and then created the Page Speed Service to handle some of the tricky bits of web optimization for you. Now the Page Speed service has another trick for users.

Page Speed’s new rewriter, which Google refers to as “Cache and Prioritize Visible Content,” works by optimizing three main things on your site — all of which are standard best practices for speeding up a website, but are often hard for smaller sites to pull off. First off the Page Speed rewriter isolates those parts of the page that can’t be cached (logged in user info for example) and caches the rest of the page.

The next step is, as the name implies, to “prioritize visible content rendering.” The Google blog is a little unclear on how this works, saying only that the rewriter “automatically determines and prioritizes the content that is above the fold of the browser, so that it doesn’t have to compete with the rest of the page.”

The third part of Page Speed’s optimization is to defer the loading of any JavaScript until the visible content is loaded.

At the moment the Page Speed Service is invite-only, but if you’d like to request access, head on over to the sign-up page and drop your e-mail and URL in the form.

While you’re waiting for access, if you want to see what Page Speed’s rewriter might be able to do for your site, you can head over to Web Page Test, which now has a profile for the Page Speed rewriter. I ran my personal site (a very simple, static HTML site served by Nginx) through it and found that, as you can see in the image above, the rewriter considerably improved the first load time of images (pretty much the only thing that takes any time to load on my site).

File Under: Programming, Web Services

Google’s New Page Speed Service Promises to Speed Up Your Website

Google still wants to make your website load faster. The company started on its web optimization quest with the Page Speed browser extension, then it moved the Page Speed tool online with an API and now Google is offering up the Page Speed Service.

Google’s new Page Speed Service is invite-only at the moment, but if you’d like to request access, head on over to the sign up page and drop your e-mail and URL in the form.

Google’s new Page Speed Service is one part optimization tool and one part content distribution network (CDN). Google essentially grabs your website, caches it and serves it from the company’s extensive network of servers around the world. The best part about Page Speed is its simplicity — all you need to do is point your DNS to Google’s servers. After that Google handles the rest and you don’t need to worry about minifying your JavaScript, compressing images, caching, gzipping, or any other web performance best practices.

For your site’s visitors everything works just as it always has, the page load times are just shorter. At least that’s the theory. In reality, how much the Page Speed Service will speed up your site varies considerably depending on how well optimized your website is to begin with.

The Google Code blog reports that, on average, pages served from Page Speed are between twenty and sixty percent faster. If you’re curious to see how Google’s Page Speed service stacks up against your current setup, you can compare load times through WebPageTest. I ran my site through the test and the Google optimized version was roughly 40 percent faster, though judging by the screenshots it didn’t quite render properly.

The rendering problems may have been WebPageTest’s fault, though the Page Speed Service documentation seems to indicate that not every page is going to render properly. The Page Speed Service offers a tool to blacklist any specific pages you don’t want Page Speed to serve up because it doesn’t render them properly.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that, while a 40 percent speed boost did shave over half a second off my site’s page load times, most of the performance gain came from Page Speed’s heavily cached CDN. If your site is already well-optimized, but lacks a (somewhat expensive) CDN, Google Page Speed isn’t going to help you out any more than existing services like Amazon’s CloudFront or any other CDN.

The Page Speed docs explain some more in-depth methods of testing your website using various browser proxy add-ons so you can perform your own, more thorough speed tests before you commit to using the Page Speed Service.

For now the Page Speed Service is free, but don’t expect that to last. Eventually, when Page Speed opens up to everyone, Google plans to start charging for it. For now the company isn’t committing to actual prices, saying only that Page Speed will be “competitive.” Presumably that means something in the ballpark of Amazon’s S3, CloudFront and similar services.

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Speed Up Your WordPress Site With Google’s New Page Speed API

Google’s Page Speed testing tool, which recently went from a browser add-on to a web-based tool, now sports a new API. The Page Speed Online API allows outside applications to send URLs to Page Speed and get back a list of things the site developer can do to speed up the page in question.

If you’d like to try it, head over to the new documentation page and request an API key. Sample apps include using the Page Speed Online API to display suggestions for speeding up sites or even combining the API with the Google Charts API to show a visual breakdown of the page’s resources.

For a more practical example of how the Page Speed Online API can help out your site, check out the latest version of the W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress. If you’re not already using W3 Total Cache in your WordPress installation, we highly recommend you install it, especially now that the plugin taps into the Page Speed API. W3 Total Cache now sends your pages to the Page Speed Online API and then offers Page Speed suggestions, right in the WordPress dashboard.

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File Under: Web Basics

Google Page Speed Now Works in any Web Browser

Google’s Page Speed tool is a great way to find out how you can speed up your website, and now Google has released a version that works in any browser as an easy-to-use online service. The new Page Speed Online couldn’t be simpler — just enter a URL and Page Speed Online will evaluate and offer up suggestions on how you can speed up your website.

The online version of Page Speed adds a new trick to the mix, offering a separate analysis of your site’s mobile performance. Among the useful mobile suggestions are serving scaled images (rather than resizing with CSS or HTML) and minifying your HTML.

Page Speed is a handy tool for testing your sites, and now that it works in any web browser it’s even more useful, but it still can’t match some of the nicer features in Yahoo’s YSlow plugin for Chrome and Firefox. For example, where Google Page Speed suggests compressing images further, YSlow goes the extra mile to offer links to more compressed images, which you can quickly download and drop into your site.

Still, when it comes to testing your site’s performance, it isn’t a matter of using the best tool, it’s a matter of using all the tools. In that regard Page Speed Online is a welcome addition to the toolkit.

Illustration from “Physics for Entertainment” by Yakov Isidorovich Perelman from Archive.org

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