QR Code contains TinyURL of this article.The Practical Developer

(High Performance Website Showcase)

screen capture: The Practical Developer

I like websites that publish great content. Better still if those websites have a pleasant design. Best of all, if those websites are blazingly fast.

Ben Halpern’s The Practical Developer meets all three criteria. The website’s style is clean and simple and it is clear that Halpern designed it to put the focus right where it belongs, on the content.1

And the content, oh boy the content. The Practical Developer is home to some insanely great reads, some highlights of which I link to below:

  1. Web Development on a Chromebook;
  2. The Web is Too Damn Slow;
  3. How I Made this Website Hella Fast Without Overcomplicating Things;
  4. Don’t Worry, They Haven’t Figured it Out Either;
  5. Machines that Learn to Code and Take Your Job.

The Practical Developer accepts article submissions from anyone, “but only good stuff will get featured on the home page.” This is something I’ve often considered supporting on the Perpetual βeta, but I haven’t got a round tuit.

Performance

I wanted to benchmark The Practical Developer with ab2 and compare it with the Perpetual βeta to provide some quantitative performance figures. Sadly, I could not get ab to successfully complete a test of The Practical Developer as it repeatedly timed-out. I suspect Halpern has some kind of auto-throttling or similar in place.

Benchmarks aside, one only has to click through a handful of articles on the website to appreciate the amazing performance Halpern has achieved. We can attribute much of the credit for the site’s speed to his use of a custom fork of the InstantClick JavaScript library. Yet, even with JavaScript disabled, The Practical Developer is fast: with most page renders complete within one second — despite the gorgeous, full-width hero images.3

The individual pages are, more often than not, feather-weights: 200-500 KB in all but one of the sample pages I analysed. Compare with the current industry average of 2.3 MB per page. Additionally, Halpern has utilised the Fastly CDN for content delivery, cleverly compressing at the CDN rather than within his Ruby on Rails CMS, which would be more expensive in terms of performance.

Summary

The Practical Developer is magnificently fast, beautifully presented and is home to some terrific content. For the technically minded reader it is a little oasis of performance in the — often way too slow — greater expanse of the World Wide Web. I recommend you pay it a visit today.

  1. Unlike Halpern’s personal website, which is a parody of all that is bad in web-design. ↩︎

  2. Apache HTTP server benchmarking tool↩︎

  3. Aided and abetted by Cloudinary, which Halpern has chosen as his image delivery platform. ↩︎