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So Long and Thanks for All the Requests: Front-end Performance in the Age of HTTP/2

Session scheduled at 10:30-11:20 in Room 3 (Ski-U-Mah)

There you are, minding your business, aggregating your CSS and JS while waiting for your morning toast. Then the Vogons arrive, and they’re wiping out your front-end performance best practices to put in a new intergalactic superhighway, http/2. What’s a front-end developer to do when everything starts spinning, and we still need to stay on top of life, the universe and everything? The answer is more complicated than “limit yourself to 42 requests.” Should we still concatenate our front-end assets into great big lumps on all our pages? Or are we now free to scatter small modular files willy nilly? Don’t panic! New front-end performance techniques need not be entirely unlike what we’ve learned so far about optimizing our source order, CSS, JS, fonts and images to leap across the galaxy as quick as can be. We’ll look at what the advent of http/2 means for us, when to begin changing our strategies for speed, and how to stay calm despite the whirling vortices surrounding us all.

In this talk, we’ll look at how http/2 affects front-end performance. To do that, we’ll recap some basics of how browsers process web requests, and how that’s changing in http/2. We’ll look at where the web is in terms of adoption of http/2, and when the right time is for us to tweak our optimization strategies. Best practices and real-world results take time to develop when a sea change like this happens. So it can be challenging to know how to adapt when there are no definitive answers. We’ll work through some of the options for aggregation strategies, font loading and image optimization that are available with emerging changes. The goal is not to definitively say “Here’s the new way to do things,” but to evaluate various tactics, and encourage attendees to further ponder and investigate and share what they learn as they experiment with new front-end performance optimizations. 

Takeaways:

  • Reconsider aggregation strategies for CSS and JS
  • Look at other performance strategies like font loading and responsive images
  • Look at various stats and studies on http/2, and what that might mean for your site

Attendee skill level: Intermediate to advanced. Some familiarity with front-end development performance optimization may be helpful, but we will cover the basics of what you need to know.

Presented By

Marc Drummond

Mark Drummond

View Marc’s slides.

As a front-end developer for Lullabot, Marc focuses on creating great experiences no matter the device, browser or abilities of the person accessing a site. Marc serves as co-maintainer of Drupal 8’s core Responsive Image and Breakpoint modules. He previously worked for a local Twin Cities suburb for 10 years, doing web development and graphic design; he also served on the board of the National Association of Government Web Professionals for five years, including a year as President of the organization.

Marc earned a BA in English and a concentration in Public Service from Albion College in Michigan, as well as degrees in web design and graphic design at Minneapolis Community & Technical College. Marc enjoys living in the Twin Cities suburbs with his wife and four-year-old daughter, as well as their cat and dog, and getting together regularly with family who live nearby.

Follow @MarcDrummond on Twitter

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