So many performance geeks all in one place!

O’Reilly’s Velocity Con, of course.

Kai Hansen, Tony Ralph, Eric Goldsmith, and Artur Bergman during, This is Your Page with Ads, a panel moderated by Steve Souders.

It turns out I’m not the only person who thinks micro-optimization of CSS files is cool.  I learned this lesson a year ago when I joined the Exceptional Performance team at Yahoo! and had it reinforced by the quality of both the presentations and the hallway conversations at the O’Reilly Velocity Conference last week.

Attending Velocity Con was fabulous.  I was especially impressed that the sessions on web performance were packed.  There were a ton of Yahoos at the conference,  Julien Lecomte from Yahoo! Search spoke about “High-performance Ajax Applications”.

“In the past few years, Ajax has become very popular because it has enabled developers to build more complex web applications. However, in the rush to push the browser to new limits, we have created a monster. “ – Julien

Julien suggested several detailed strategies and patterns that developers can use to accelerate their applications. Stoyan Stefanov, the lead developer of YSlow, and my colleague in the Exceptional Performance team, spoke about Image Optimization, including the 7 mistakes most sites are making.  He showed non-designers how to automate image optimization and reduce image bloat by as much as 30%. After attending the talk, Douglas Crockford shared some love.

“It is good to be able to point with pride at something that Yahoo does that is extremely smart. The Exceptional Performance Team is one of the things that makes me proud to be at Yahoo.” – Doug

John Allspaw from Flickr joined a panel about Surviving Success by preparing to be TechCrunched, Dugg, Slashdotted, or even “Oprahed”.  He also presented Capacity Management.

“Your process of capacity planning should be adaptive, adjustable, and include more than just system statistics. Measurement, architecture, and economics are all equally important to having your site perform. Becoming popular doesn’t have to mean being afraid your site will fall over from too much load.” – John

Adam Bechtel, the chief architect covering network, storage
and systems infrastructure at Yahoo! presented “Performance Plumbing”. He believes that scale provides unique opportunities to leverage the network to improve performance.

“As your site scales, don’t overlook the performance opportunities that the plumbing creates.” – Adam

Tony Ralph who works on ad quality and performance for Yahoo! participated in a panel, This is Your Page with Ads.  He made an important point that I hadn’t really thought of before. He indicated that the ad industry and engineers measure performance in very different ways; one via monetization, the other via impact on response time.  He emphaiszed how important it is for engineers to understand both points of view, so that we can effectively measure and convey the impact of end user experience on revenue.

Kai Hansen from Google Ireland also mentioned the need to properly advocate this point of view from within our companies so that quality metrics such as keyword relevance and performance are tied to the cost of displaying ads.

I look forward to Velocity Conference 2009.  I do hope that it will focus on the front end with more talks about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Ajax.  These sessions were the most popular of the conference, and front-end performance is still in its infancy. Douglas Crockford expressed it very well.

“By showing the browser makers how web applications actually perform, the browser makers are now able to make effective changes to the platform. As the platform evolves, we will need new rules and new tools. There is still much to do. (Emphasis mine)” – Doug

Nicole Sullivan

Exceptional Performance Yahoo!