Category Archives: Web Development

Mobilewood and FutureFriend.ly

Last March, Luke sent an email:

We should have a mobile web/responsive design/multiple devices + web retreat sometime soon. Small intimate group of folks meet-up at a conference center in the woods for a long weekend and discuss/collaborate/etc.

Josh replied:

LOVE it. Color me deliriously enthusiastic (a rather bright orange) about this idea.

Since then I’ve been anxiously awaiting this event. Last week, ten of us gathered for two intense days in a beautiful location outside Nashville. Our shorthand for the event was Mobilewood.

Working session

We set out with a few goals in mind:

  • Was there some common ground between all of the different ways that each of us is trying to address device proliferation?
  • Can we find ways to help web developers and designers start to plan for this changing landscape?
  • How can we encourage browser makers to support device APIs and other tools needed to take full advantage of new capabilities in a more timely fashion?
  • How do we break out of the browser ghetto?

The first output of our collaboration launched today. It is a concept we’re calling Future Friendly.

We realized that none of us felt like our approach was necessarily the right approach for the future. The landscape is shifting too quickly to be confident. There is no such thing as future proof.

We have principles, tools, techniques, and some gut instincts on what will work in the future, but we don’t have solutions. And that is to be expected based on this stage of mobile’s ascendence. We have a long way to go before we have push-button deployment of web technology for multiple devices in the same way we do other web services.

Thus futurefriend.ly focuses on the things that we think can help prepare people for the chaos that is sure to come. Our thinking doesn’t offer proclamations. Instead, these are the areas that we find ourselves thinking a lot about and see as keys for the future. They are the starting point for conversation, not the ending.

There’s more to come from last weekend. I can’t wait to explore some of the concepts in more detail. But for now, I simply want to say thank you to a fabulous group of people:

I’m honored to have been included.

Devices and mobinauts

HTML 5 Proposes Integrating Forms with HTTP Auth

One of my earliest blog posts delved into the challenges of http authentication and forms.

The good news this week that there is a new “radical proposal for integrating HTTP authentication with HTML forms.”

The bad news is that “this idea has been kicked around for more than a decade” and that “no browsers currently support this proposal.”

The optimist in me wants to believe this will happen. The realist is happy to no longer be forced to work exclusively with http authentication.

Top Ten Reasons to Attend My Web 2.0 Expo Session

An note to those attending the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC.

I was struck last night at the TechSet networking event at how much I was out of my normal element. The experience made me realize that nearly no one at this conference knows who I am. So why would anyone come to my session?

With that in mind, I want to give you the top ten reasons to attend my talk about Going Fast on the Mobile Web:

  1. 24,000 People Can’t Be Wrong
    Over 24,000 people have viewed or downloaded the slides from the earlier version of my presentation from SlideShare.
     
  2. Featured on O’Reilly Radar, Ajaxian, and Fast Company
    Previous favorable coverage from O’Reily Radar, Ajaxian, and Fast Company.
     
  3. Few Bullets. Lots of Images. And a Story to Tell.
    I hate boring presentations where the presenter reads off the slide. I can read that myself thank you very much.
     
  4. High-level View of the Mobile Landscape
    The mobile opportunity is huge, but most people, particularly Americans, are unaware of what the upcoming mobile wave. You’ll get high-level picture with data to convince your clients, coworkers or management that mobile is something your organization needs to focus on.
     
  5. But with Details that You Can Act On
    I’m also a developer so for those who want details and code that you can act on, there will be plenty of examples that you can implement.
     
  6. Hot Topics: iPhone and the App Store
    We’ll talk about the iPhone, the Mobile Web, App Store sales and how what they mean for businesses and web developers.
     
  7. You Will Be Asked About This in the Next Year
    No matter what business you run, you will be asked to start thinking about your mobile strategy some time in the next year if you haven’t been already. It is the next big thing, and you need to start thinking about how you’re going to prepare for it.
     
  8. Even Web Developers Who Aren’t Doing Mobile Will Learn Something
    A lot of the information in the presentation is information on how to build faster web sites that many web developers are not aware of. Even if you never build a mobile site, these are things you can incorporate into your current web sites.
     
  9. Research and Data Unavailable Anywhere Else
    I’ll be presenting the latest data from the mobile browser concurrency test that my company, Cloud Four, developed. This data isn’t available anywhere else. (Nevermind that it isn’t available elsewhere because we’ve been too busy to publish it. :-)
     
  10. Guarantee that You Will Learn Something New
    And if you don’t, track me down at tomorrow’s party, and I’ll buy you a drink. :-)
     
  11. So there you have it. Ten great reasons to attend my session. The session details are:

    I also want to assure people that even though it is in the performance and scaling track that it has a wider appeal than just people who specialize in those topics.

    I hope to see you tomorrow.

Smart Optimizer

One of the bigger problems I see in the performance space is that a lot of the value of current content management systems and blogging tools is the ability to add widgets or plugins from a lot of different places. These plugins often do not provide compressed and cacheable versions of their content.

In order to get more people to adopt the methods of creating faster web pages, we need to make it easier for them to do so while still a making it easy for them to adhere to performance guidelines. Basically, make it possible for them to eat cat and lose weight at the same time.

I’ve spent part of last evening looking for plugins for WordPress that will find any javascript or css files, combine them into a single file, minify and gzip them, and then set far future expires headers. I’ve got a dream plugin in mind and none of them are quite living up to my fantasy.

One solution that comes close to being my dream is a piece of software called Smart Optimizer. Smart Optimizer used to be called JSmart. It was a project that hadn’t had any updates since July 7, 2006 until two weeks ago when the project was revitalized and the name changed.

Smart Optimizer will:

  • Set up rewrite rules to intercept any calls to css or js files
  • Minify, gzip any css or js files
  • Creates static files on the server for css and js that are gzipped and set for caching
  • Concatenate css or js files into a single file

It’s an interesting tool that I don’t think a lot of people know of. Take a look.

Speed Up Your AJAX With Google AJAX Libraries

Dion Almaer of Google and Ajaxian.com announced late last week the AJAX Libraries API. If you use AJAX, you’ll want to pay attention to this announcement. What does it mean?

Popular AJAX libraries including:

  • jQuery
  • prototype
  • script.aculo.us
  • MooTools
  • dojo

are now being hosted on Google’s servers for use on your site or applications. Why would you link to a file hosted on Google’s server? Because it is optimized for speed by providing the libraries in the following way:

  • Gzipped
  • Minified
  • Far future expires headers to increase caching
  • Delivered using Google’s extensive content delivery network

They are providing multiple versions of each library and even include a javascript loader for the libraries. For more on the benefits of this service, check out Steve Souder’s coverage and Dion’s extensive information on Ajaxian.

If you are using any of these AJAX libraries, you would be foolish not to seriously consider taking advantage of this service.

Updates on How Long People Will Wait for a Page to Load

Andrew King has a new post up highlighting recent research on how long people will wait for a page to load. Previously, the magic number was 10 seconds, but broadband has decreased our patience for slow sites.

A JupiterResearch survey found that 33% of broadband shoppers are unwilling to wait more than four seconds for a web page to load, whereas 43% of narrowband users will not wait more than six seconds (Akamai 2006).

and

Google found that moving from a 10-result page loading in 0.4 seconds to a 30-result page loading in 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20% (Linden 2006).

Plus a very real impact on sales:

Tests at Amazon revealed similar results: every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007).

German Interview with Google’s Eric Schmidt

Google CEO Eric Schmidt sat down with the Frantfurter Allgemeine (FAZ.net) to discuss things mobile and social networks among other things.

On mobile:

Just take the success of the iPhone: It has the first really powerful web browser on a mobile device – and many more are still coming. Nokia has one coming, Blackberry has one and Motorola has one. They are all supposed to be released this year. By these products, the advertising gets more targeted because phones are personal. So targeted ads are possible. And that means the value of the ads will grow. The next big wave in advertising is the mobile internet.

On social networks:

MySpace did not monetize as well as we thought. We have a lot of traffic, a lot of page views, but it is harder than we thought to get our ad network to work with social networks. When you are in social network, it is not likely that you´ll buy a washing machine.

Some good stuff in there. I recommend the full article.