Top 10 Bare Minimum Web Client Performance Tweaks

Posted in: Software Development Best Practices

In my previous article (Performance Tuning Resources For Web Clients) I discussed why you should care about the performance of your web client and then listed out some of the better places to go on the web to find information on how to go about tweaking your web clients to get that better performance. In this article I am going to dig a little deeper and call out specifically what I think are the Must-do-No-excuse-not-to-do-them-You-are-really-being-unprofessional-if-you-are-not-doing-them tweaks that you should be performing on every single one of your web development projects.
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What is a browser?

Posted in: Uncategorized

It seems like an easy question. A web browser has become so integral to today’s computing experience that it would be hard to imagine what a computer without one would be useful for.

But take a look at this video that Google has posted on YouTube.

So if we ignore that this video is produced by Google and so the results are obviously predisposed to further their own agenda, then I think there are still a few interesting things that come to mind when watching this.

Firstly, I think software developers can sometimes get a little myopic about who their customers are, and I definitely make that mistake myself sometimes. Much of my day revolves around my laptop and my web browser, but for a lot of people, perhaps most people, this is not the case. So we should be careful about making too many assumptions about what our users will or will not understand and how they will or will not use our software.

Secondly, I think that this kind of proves out that the whole debate about whether Microsoft ships Windows with IE embedded in the OS or not is kind of moot. As it turns out, there is a pretty large number of people that can’t identify what IE even is, let alone whether it is IE or Firefox.

Thirdly, the number of people who thought Google was the browser says a lot about what the web experience of most people is. They launch a piece of software (not called a “browser” apparently), they either go to google.com, or it is already their home page, they search (or browse if you will) for what they are looking for, click one of the links on the first page that shows up, and that is the Internet as far as they are concerned.

Fourthly, following on from the previous point, this only serves to reinforce the importance of SEO activities and making sure your site shows up high on that very first page of results on Google.

Fifthly (is that a word?), this might be reading too much into it, but maybe these people are the embodiment of the trend of the browser just simply becoming more and more ubiquitous when using a computer. The delineation between the OS and the browser is fading rapidly. The move towards SAAS style applications, web applications as apposed to just web sites and just generally more and more computing work being moved to the network and less and less being done locally anymore will see this trend continue.

JavaFX – Too Little Too Late?

Posted in: Enterprise Java

Java was born out of a want to develop rich client side applications in the form of Applets originally. But, the horrendousness of the AWT and the poor user experience when it comes to the JRE plugin pretty much killed off that idea. Even today with Swing being available to help create nicer looking UIs, the JRE plugin nightmare remains. I can vouch for this as recently finished an Applet project that took 4 months to get through QA because of all of the issues related to the JRE installation process on different platforms and browsers.

So Sun blew it the first time around when they tried to take on the consumer facing domain and retreated back to the server-side which they seem to be doing pretty well on.

So now in the age of AJAX, Flex, Flash, Silverlight and Laszlo, Sun appears to want to take another shot at it with JavaFX. They are positioning it as a tool for not only coders, but also designers. Nothing I have seen looks anything like a Flash editor, so maybe I have missed something there. The designers I know are not going to be too interested in writing code, no matter how “script-y” or “dynamic-y” it might be.

I had given up on Sun ever trying to fix the plugin issue. It seemed clear to me that they had written off the client side and had put all of their eggs on the server side. I had resorted to hoping the open sourcing of the JDK might provide an opportunity for a project to spring up that aimed to write a better JRE plugin that would work as seamlessly as the Flash Player Plugin. There is some glimmer of hope on this from Sun with update 10 of JDK 6, but only time will tell if they have done enough.

The latest bump in the road is the Oracle acquisition of Sun, and there seems no clear indication what Oracle’s intention for Java on the client might be.