Video Of The Week – Your Script Just Killed My Site

Building  high performance web systems (web applications including the underlying infrastructure, storage, networks, etc.) that meet the documented Non Functional Requirements is tough job by itself. The situation get a lot more complicated when you add 3rd party plugins and modules to the mix, over which you’ve got little control. Unfortunately this is a challenge that every web application architect faces today. Web architects are having to constantly weigh up the benefit of  building their own custom high performance bespoke components as compared to reusing existing 3rd party components. You definitely want to avoid the 3rdy party plugins from becoming your weak link in the chain and bringing down your entire website due to poor performance.

3rd party plugins or modules are now being used for some of the most common tasks i.e. Chat integration, Social Media Integration, Web Analytics integration, Content Aggregation, etc. A lot of relevant 3rd party plugins are already available out there for a modest fee and in some cases for free. In this fantastic ecosystem that has been built off the internet, a large number of organizations make their living building and selling 3rd party plugins and it seems quite ridiculous to be re-inventing the wheel. So if you can’t beat them join them we say.

In this video, Steve Souders the Web Performance Guru in this video talks about some of the most common dangers that 3rd party scripts pose to application Performance. His experience suggests that in-spite of the fact that most of common dangers to application performance from 3rd party plugins are quite well documented one doesn’t have to look to far to spot applications that don’t quite obey the basic rules of dealing with 3rd party content.

  • JavaScript in-lining
  • Async loading of Javascript
  • Analysis of SPOF (Single Points Of Failure)

Fortunately, there are numerous tools available out there that allow for easy analysis of rogue 3rd party scripts. Firefox and Chrome come with quite a few development tools to view break down of response times across various elements in the web page. One of the most famous ones if Web Page Test which provides an waterfall view of the various elements while capturing a video of the frame load time and object load sequence.


Steve is Chief Performance Officer at Fastly developing web performance services. His book, High Performance Web Sites, explains his best practices for performance; it was #1 in Amazon’s Computer and Internet bestsellers. His follow-up book, Even Faster Web Sites, provides performance tips for today’s Web 2.0 applications. Steve is the creator of many performance tools and services including YSlow, the HTTP Archive, Cuzillion, Jdrop,SpriteMe, ControlJS, and Browserscope. He serves as co-chair of Velocity, the web performance and operations conference from O’Reilly, and is co-founder of the Firebug Working Group. He taught CS193H: High Performance Web Sites at Stanford, and does many public speaking appearances.

Steve was the Head Performance Engineer at Google where he worked on web performance and open source initiatives. Prior to that he was Chief Performance Yahoo! and ran the Exceptional Performance and My Yahoo! teams. Steve worked at several small to mid-sized startups including two companies he co-founded, Helix Systems and CoolSync. He also worked at General Magic, WhoWhere?, and Lycos. In the early 80’s Steve worked at a few companies doing research in Artificial Intelligence focusing on machine learning.

You can read more about Steve Souders at SteveSouders.com.

High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers

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