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"High Performance Web Sites Essential Knowledge for Frontend Engineers"

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Oct. 18th, 2007 | 01:27 am

Tonight's reading material?

O'Reilly's "High Performance Web Sites Essential Knowledge for Frontend Engineers".

So what did I think?

I liked it.

First the background for the book. It is not yet another book on Apache, MySQL, or any particular scripting language. It is a front end designer's book.

A front end designer's book that does not explain HTML 101 (again). Instead the book went into how the delivery of content to a user's browser shapes the user's experience.

What I liked about the book was that the material was original. All of the information, except one bit about keeping JS scripts to the bottom of pages, I knew.

Then why did I think the material was original?

I have never seen all of the material written down in one place. Having the material published in a single book is original.

Where did I learn the material? From talking to people. I know geeks who obsess about this type of material. Each of these people have a particular niche they happen to love. All of them work in big companies that pay them to obsess on optimizing page views.

The book covers many niches of knowledge, 14 in total. There is a lot of good information in the book.

So what did I not like?

I feel like I could have read a much smaller document and gotten the same information out of. The smaller document would not have explained as much as the book, but I would not have minded that. I will trust most sources unless I am given a reason not to. The author of the book definitely presents the material in a way that makes me trust what they are saying, which means a bullet point list would have been fine.

So yes, I think a LifeHacker post should exist with the content of the book. For those take the post with a grain a of salt, let them read the entire book.

So what do I recommend? If you are really busy and just want to take the book on faith sit down in your local bookstore and read the first three paragraphs followed by the last paragraph of each chapter. If you do web front end work all day buy the book. There are going to be several "Ah ha!" moments while reading it. Having a copy of the book will come in handy when you have to explain all of your new found tricks to your co-workers (the book though is quite slim, so beating them over the head with it will be futile).

The book reminds me of the style that O'Reilly used for "Ruby On Rails: Up and Running". Which I liked, because the book solved a problem for me. I had not done any programming in Rails and I wanted to understand the terminology that the Rails community was using. The book was a fast and comprehensive read of the environment. Which was exactly what I wanted. I thought that the "High Performance Web Sites" had the same potential for someone who did front end web design.

Big kudos to O'Reilly on their recent books. I have not seen as of late the "regurgitate" problem that was occurring with publishers about six or so years ago. A few years ago, every time I turned around and read a new book I found the same material just tweaked a little.

The same stuff material over and over again.

Not exactly something I found endearing.

Every year I read a few dozen technical books so I tend to pick up trends pretty quickly. When publishers repeat material I notice. None of the recent books I have been reading from O'Reilly suffer from this.

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Comments {4}

(no subject)

from: jamesd
date: Oct. 19th, 2007 09:37 am (UTC)

The online preview at the O'Reilly site was a handy and quick read that seemed to well cover the key points for those who are familiar with the general concepts. Nothing there that surprised me but it was a good quick read. I also didn't know about script at the bottom, was familiar enough with the rest that matters to me.

Recommended for anyone who hasn't yet gone in depth into tuning browser responsiveness.

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YDN Performance blog

from: steve_souders
date: Oct. 19th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)

For a quick read, take a look at the YDN performance blog (http://developer.yahoo.com/performance/rules.html). It has 3-5 paragraphs for each rule.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

(no subject)

from: krow
date: Oct. 20th, 2007 05:33 pm (UTC)

Just looking at it :)

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(no subject)

from: kytty
date: Oct. 21st, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)

Wow. great post...definitely something I'd like to read at some point!

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