QR Code contains TinyURL of this article.Perpetual βeta, Now With Extra Oomph

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, preparing for take-off
Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”1Credit: . License: Public Domain

There are some words that provoke an almost primeval reaction in me when I encounter them. Words like: performance, speed, responsive, progressive-enhancement and others of a similar ilk.

So, when Jeremy Keith’s shout-out to Turbolinks™ dropped into my RSS client, I had to drop everything and take a look. This is how the Turbolinks page introduces the program:

Turbolinks makes navigating your web application faster. Get the performance benefits of a single-page application without the added complexity of a client-side JavaScript framework. Use HTML to render your views on the server side and link to pages as usual. When you follow a link, Turbolinks automatically fetches the page, swaps in its <body>, and merges its <head>, all without incurring the cost of a full page load.”

Jeremy Keith opened his commentary with this:

“I really, really like the approach that this JavaScript library is taking in treating Ajax as a progressive enhancement.”

I’ve played around with a couple of similar programs in the past — Pjax and InstantClick — but both presented me with issues and compromises that reduced their value and ultimately resulted in my discarding them.

Turbolinks2 is different. It took me less than an hour to integrate it with this website. I had to modify a couple of my JavaScript functions slightly and that was it. For a minimal time/labour investment, I have an oh-so-sweet enhancement that brings both real and perceived performance benefits.

So, if you’re reading this in an RSS client, stop right now. Point your web-browser at the Perpetual βeta, navigate through a selection of pages in the weblog3 and you’ll get a feel for how much of a boost Turbolinks provides.4  Turn off JavaScript and note the difference in responsiveness. Revisit a page that was previously cached, the result is immediate.5  Turbolinks is jaw-droppingly quick. It blew me away when I started experimenting with it.

The performance on a smart-phone is even more telling. It’s measurably faster than it is without Turbolinks. Page loads are almost instant on my no-better-than-average 4G connection. That’s impressive.

I’ll stress again: Turbolinks is an enhancement. The Perpetual βeta has no dependency on it. If JavaScript is on and the client web-browser supports the technologies that Turbolinks employs, then it will kick in and speed up the page loads. If not, then the website behaves as normal. There is no downside to this clever script.

I recommend you take a good look at Turbolinks and, if possible, integrate it into your own website. You (and the rest of the Web) will appreciate it.

  1. I chose the SR-71 Blackbird as the hero-image for this article as I feel the Perpetual βeta website has much in common with the spy-plane: gorgeous to look at; flies higher than the rest; fast as heck; and, for the most part, operates off the radar. 😃 ↩︎

  2. Turbolinks™ originates from the Basecamp stable. Pretty good parentage if you ask me. ↩︎

  3. Hot Tip: Use the keyboard shortcut keys H and L to navigate to previous and next pages respectively. ↩︎

  4. Loading images now “feels” slow on the Perpetual βeta. Yet it’s only a couple of weeks ago that I wrote so enthusiastically about my silky-smooth image loading↩︎

  5. Note that these are HTTPS pages too, with all the overheads of hand-shaking and encryption. ↩︎