geeks/nerds

3d scan of my room using the kinect

I love all the stuff one can do with the Microsoft Kinect. Take for example, this scan of my bay window

(looks like a snow bawl due to the white parts outside)

And without color:

The kinect can be used for much more then just scanning. Scanning one's girlfriend for example :-)

Tour De Drupal, come to DrupalCon Amsterdam by bike


When the three orange Dutch guys presented DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014 in Prague, they had a slide (#36) were they joked about that one should come to Amsterdam, The Netherlands by bike.

Two friends were funny enough to take this from "a joke" to "a practial joke". Rachel and Stefan created "Tour de Drupal", a community movement to get as many Drupalista as possible to visit DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014 in 330 days by bike!


If you come to this DrupalCon, there is no excuse, you have to come by bike and put yourself on the map. While you are at it, follow our friends on @TourDeDrupal as well. Even I come by bike, and so should you Dries!

There is bound to be more funny stuff coming from the community in Amsterdam, I hope to be involved in some of this and will post it here as well. There is for example talk of an Eurosongfestival with Drupal songs and a revival of the Kitten Killers so bring your guitar as well.

So in the closing ceremony we now have lists of the amount Megabits used, liters coffee drunken and number of flat tires… :-)

SPDY and webperformance

Robert M. White
TL;RD

  1. Performance matter for all websites
  2. Performance is not just (80%) frontend
  3. SPDY kills 80% of your frontend problems

What
In the Drupal and broader web community, there is a lot of attention towards the performance of websites.

While "performance" is a very complex topic on its' own, let us in this posting define it as the speed of the website and the process to optimize the speed of the website (or better broader, the experience of the speed by the user as performance.

Why
This attention towards speed is for two good reasons. On one hand we have the site that is getting bigger and hence slower. The databases get bigger with more content and the the codebase of the website is added with new modules and features. While on the other hand, more money is being made with websites for business even if you are not selling goods or run ads.

Given that most sites run on the same hardware for years, this results in slower websites, leading to a lower pagerank, less traffic, less pages per visit, lower conversion rates. And in the end, if you a have a business case for your website, lower profits. Bottemline: If you make money online, you are losing this due to a slow website.
UFO's
When it comes to speed there are many parameters to take in to account, it is not "just" the average pageloading time. First of all the average is a rather useless metric without taking the standard deviation into account. But apart from that, it comes down to what a "page" is.

A page can be just the HTML file (can be done in 50ms)
A page can be the complete webpage with all the elements (for many sites around the 10seconds)
A page can be the complete webpage with all elements including third party content. Hint: did you know that for displaying the Facebook Like button, more Javascript is downloaded then the entire jQuery/backbone/bootstrap app of this website, non cacheable!
And a page can be anything "above the fold"



Moon Retro future
And then there are more interesting metrics then these, the time to first byte from a technologic point of view for example. But not just technical PoV. There is a website one visits every day that optimzes its' rendable HTML to fit within 1500 bytes.
So ranging from "First byte to glass" to "Round trip time", there are many elements to be taken into account when one measures the speed of a website. And that is the main point: webperformance is not just for the frontenders like many think, not just for the backenders like some of them hope, but for all the people who control elements elements in the chain involved in the speed. All the way down to the networking guys (m/f) in the basement (hint sysadmins: INITCWND has a huge performance impact!) Speed should be in your core of your team, not just in those who enable gzip compression, aggregate the Javascript or make the sprites.

Steve Souders (the webperformance guru) once stated in his golden rule that 80-90% of the end-user response time is spent on the frontend.

Speedy to the rescue?
This 80% might be matter of debate in the case of a logged in user in a CMS. But even if it is true. This 80% can be reduced by 80% with SPDY.
SPDY is an open protocol introduced by Google to overcome the problems with HTTP (up to 1.1 including pipeling, defined in 1999!) and the absence of HTTP/2.0. It speeds up HTTP by generating one connection between the client and the server for all the elements in the page served by the server. Orginally only build in chrome, many browsers now support this protocol that will be the base of HTTP/2.0. Think about it and read about it, a complete webpage with all the elements -regardless of minifying and sprites- served in one stream with only once the TCP handshake and one DNS request. Most of the rules of traditional webperf optimalisation (CSS aggregation, preloading, prefetching, offloading elements to different host, cookie free domains), all this wisedom is gone, even false, with one simple install. 80% of the 80% gone with SPDY, now one can focus on the hard part; the database, the codebase. :-)

The downside of SPDY is however that is is hard to troublshoot and not yet avaliable in all browsers. It is hard to troubleshoot since most implementations use SSL, the protocol is multiplexed and zipped by default and not made to be read by humans unlike HTTP/1.0. There are however some tools that make it possible to test SPDY but most if not all tools you use every day like ab, curl, wget will fail to use SPDY and fallback like defined in the protocol to HTTP/1.0

Measure
So can we test to see if SPDY is really faster and how much faster?
Yes, see Evaluating the Performance of SPDY-Enabled Web Servers (a Drupal site :-)
SPDY performance

So more users, less errors under load and a lower page load time. What is there not to like about SPDY?

Drupal
That is why I would love Drupal.org to run with SPDY, see this issue on d.o/2046731. I really do hope that the infra team will find some time to test this and once accepted, install it on the production server.


Performance as a Service
One of the projects I have been active in later is ProjectPAAS, bonus point if you find the easteregg on the site :-) . ProjectPAAS is a startup that will test a Drupal site, measure on 100+ metrics, analyse the data and give the developer an opinionated report on what to change to get a better performance. If you like these images around the retro future theme, be sure to checkout the flickr page, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter but most of all, see the moodboard on pinterest

Pinterest itself is doing some good work when it comes to performance as well. Not just speed but also the perception of speed.

Pinterest lazyloading with color
Pinterest does lazyload images but also displays the prominent color as background in a cell before the image is loaded, giving the user a sense of what to come. For a background on this see webdistortion


Congratulations you just saved 0,4 seconds
If you are lazyloading images to give your user faster results, be sure to checkout this module we made; lazypaas, currently a sandbox project awaiting approval. It does extract the dominant (most used) color of an image and displays the box where the image will be placed with this color. And if you use it and did a code review, be sure to help it to get it to a real Drupal module.


From 80% to 100%
Lazyloading like this leads to better user experience. Because even when 80% of the end-user response time is spent on the frontend, 100% of the time is spend in the client, most ofthen the browser. The only place where performance should be measured and the only page where performance matters. Hence, all elements that deliver this speed should be optimized, including the webserver and the browser.

Now say this fast after me: SPDY FTW. :-)

1M Drupal installs and counting! (11110100001001000000 initiative)

Target of 1M Drupal installs
Within 1 year (Q1/Q2 2014?) we will have 1 million registered Drupal installs. We all know the total is higher due to mostly Drupal SaaServices that don't have the pingback enabled and we should always explain that.

However, 1.000.000 is still a freaking big number (11110100001001000000 in base 2 even bigger :-) and we should use this for marketing our product. Apart from the usual suspects there are not that many web based solutions that come even close to one tenth. Big proprietary CMS vendors do very well if they sell 10.000 per year.

All the reason to celebrate, for example by making

  1. an easy to embed history infographic,
  2. an interactive timeline like trends or zeitgeist, plotting the number of installs against events in time and or place from the community
  3. press releases (they never seem to work though :-( )
  4. give the one millionth Drupal user something, for example a Drupal 1.0 install on a 5 ¼" floppy disk signed by Dries

For sourcing, we can use the influence, people and money of the DA (if they would be in on this), ask companies to work on this pro bono, preferably together and have a fund raiser; "One tenth for one"; 1/10 of a monetary unit of your country per Drupal install you maintain. A dime per install per American, 10 eurocents per Drupal for EU’s, 1/10th of a Rand in South Africa etc. This shows that we are truly global and if people do not donate 10 cents but 10 dollars per install for example (we should hint to that, especially to the cheap Dutch :-) we could raise a bit as well, more than 1/10th of a million if played well.

What are your thoughts, how should we proceed? Please follow up on BAM on g.d.o.

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