Guides like these are full of little tips and tricks. They give you confidence that you’re doing something the right way – Hey look! Google agrees with me! – and you’ll always find some little optimization you haven’t come across before. In this case, I had a definite case of old-dog-taught-new-trick, and also an incredible sense of déjà vu: at least one of the techniques suggested in the HTML guide is a naughty little cheat from years ago (actually, last century) turned into an ultra-modern performance optimization.
Little more than a week ago I wrote an article for this blog about the SSL features in IIS Express/Visual Studio 2012. Part of that article suggested a way to switch between http and https for images stored on a third party site using an action filter. The HTML style guide suggests a much simpler solution – a form of relative pathing I’d never come across before: simply omit the protocol from the url. Instead of a path like src=https://localhost:44301/Content/Images/1.jpg you use src=“//localhost:44301/Content/Images/1.jpg“. This makes the path relative and substitutes the appropriate protocol automatically. It relies on the images being available in both formats – but it is massively simpler than my original solution. Time to go back and refactor.
Way back when the internet was a lot smaller and slower than it is nowadays and everything was in black and white (okay, I made that bit up), we sometimes used to cheat to reduce bandwidth. I remember building an online shop for a small web development company in the 1990s where we had one page with a long table listing all products. We saved more than 100kb (a massive amount of bandwidth back then) simply by omitting the closing </td> and </tr> tags. That was naughty even then, but worth it. Since then, of course, it has been completely verboten because it’s such a horrible breach of the rules. Well guess what – that’s exactly what Google recommends!
Here, for example is what they don’t recommend:
<title>Spending money, spending bytes</title>
And here is what they do:
<title>Saving money, saving bytes</title>
To be fair, they do suggest being cautious on that one – but still: wow! That’s such a sea-change in approach I find it hard believe it’s going to be accepted any time soon, if ever.
Whether you agree with everything in there or not, the guidelines are definitely worth a look. There’s plenty of food for thought in there and you never know, you might pick up a new trick or two like I did.
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