back to article Google urges background tab websites to throttle themselves

Google has urged website developers to use Chrome's experimental Page Visibility API to reduce their sites' activities when they're not actually being viewed by browser users. Now included with the developer version of Chrome – and due for arrival in the beta version next week – the PageVisability API allows websites to …

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FAIL

Is it just me...

It seems that the benefit to the developer of co-operating to allow tabs of other sites to perform well seems to be very slight. OTOH, when coupled with a "name and shame" interface telling the user about sites that perform badly in the background, this might take off, but otherwise... meh.

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Silver badge

Not just other sites.

What about when a user has several tabs of the same site open? I've noticed that with certain sites--Yahoo! News! comes! to! mind!--this can be a miserable experience.

On the other hand, I'm not sure this can't be implemented purely on the client side. Only very rarely would you want heavy scripts running in background tab, so it seems pretty reasonable to throttle them by default.

Perhaps that's actually what Google is trying to ward off, they're apparently big fans of using a ridiculous amount of script just to draw a page (e.g. their web apps).

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Pots and kettles

A bit rich coming from a website whose search engine posts active media and code on its front page and, by default, sends huge amounts of clutter in the form of page previews with its search results.

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More data please

So basically a nice way for google to grab stats on how long people are viewing pages and their general browsing habits. And they don't have to get the user to agree to it because its being submitted by the site owners and not the client.

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Submit to google?

Where exactly do you see this getting submitted to google? It's a javascript API. It's not send anywhere (unless you decide to send it with javascript).

Anyways, you can always install Chromium, does exactly the same, minus the google junk in it.

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Submit to google?

Yeah probably, considering that a huge number, possibly a majority, of web sites run Google-controlled scripts. Google analytics, Google ads, DoubleClick ads, Blogger-power comments, etc. I can't imagine Google wouldn't be interested either.

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Bronze badge

I'd like to have the throttle mySELF...

I keep open maybe 150 tabls. Some go to "Too Many Tabs". Even so, I have some 30 open on the main bar. At times, Firefox is showing up in windows task manager as consuming 330M to 580M of RAM. I'd like background pages in FFox or ANY other browser tab to be force into suspense unless it is streaming actionable/interactive data (movies don't count. Banking does), or tabs the user explicitly allows to self-update or remote-update. If only the basic elements of a page hold place, then to me, it means my browser of 40 open tabs with 100 more on Too Many Tabs could or SHOULD drop to about 30 MB of RAM consumption unless I spike thinks by flipping through tabs every 30 seconds.

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150 tabs open?

Do you have any screen space left at all?

Still trying to fathom why anyone might need 150 (or did you really mean 30) tabs open, when you can just click a bookmark to bring up a page when needed, and save lots of memory and (according to this article), CPU cycles.

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Devil

Just Curious

WTF do you need 150 tabs open at one time for?

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WTF?

150 tabs?

Wtf are you doing that you need 150 tabs open? I'd suggest whatever it is you're doing it wrong and a more efficient method must be possible.

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Alert

Banking on good luck

You do banking with 150 tabs open? Is that wise?

Hopefully not with MS's browser!

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Bronze badge

Ho hum

You're clearly already running flashblock, otherwise your machine would have gone up in smoke before you hit 30.

As for this magic new extension, deveopers have blur and focus events on windows pretty much since JavaScript reared it's ugly head back in Netscape 2 - courteous developers suspend their background tasks on blur, the other 100% don't, and I don't see how another event is going to change that.

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150 Tabs?

Maybe he's got a small penis, and needs another way to make himself feel like a man?

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Surely you must be joking...

Or, are you being crass because maybe YOU have a small penis? (No, not trying to be crass... just rotating the mirror 180 degrees...)

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Any Space Left?

Remarkably, FFox runs well, despite having all these tabs open. I do tell FFox to "Work Offline" when I'm not actively surfing.

What is annoying is that the internal db (SQLite?) still restores 300+ MB of "content" even after I restart where the browser was shut down with "Work offline" checked. yet, when it cannot find a page, it doesn't present the bloat content that is not re-connected to..

To those two who down-thumbed me, I dont' know what the is your problem. Is it a technical one, or are you some marketers who thnik you have rights of unfettered access to and squatting rights inside of browsers connected to the net? Even after the user departs the site?

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WTF?

RAM?

I don't see how this would save RAM. Suspending scripts is one thing, but if they actually took anything out of RAM surely it would take time to restore it when you switch back to the tab. I don't think most people would find that acceptable.

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Bronze badge

I tend to be interested in about 15 to 30 things at once...

And, unfortunately, some of the time I simply have not enough time to finish looking at all things in one go. Sometimes, something leads to another, and next thing I know, I have 2-5 tabs per topic/item of interest going. Some things are interesting enough to make me keep the tab open across sessions. Other things I simply forget to close, and then get around to closing some a month later when I feel I've got no more interest in the item.

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FAIL

PageVisability

Christ on a bike.

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WTF?

What the f*&%$????!!!!

Hang on - A "page visibility" API?

So, how is this Google-specific proprietary mechanism any different to (say) MS's various proprietary extensions and incompatibilities that it has built in to IE over the years?

So all websites are now being asked to implement this Google-specific API then? Google really is turning into the new MS!!

On another point - ...the "real" reason Chrome is so fast. "For things that aren't running [in the foreground tab], we knock them to a lower priority" - You mean all browsers don't implement this blindingly obvious optimization already? You ARE having a laugh, no???

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Calm down, calm down.

If you had read the article, Google have put the concept to the W3 to make it a standard. i.e, not proprietary if it gets accepted.

And as for the lower priority thing, it's only an obvious optimisation if each tab is on a separate thread or process (as is done in Chromium), otherwise you would need some pretty good single threaded code to work things out. Not sure which other browsers do it that way.

Also, just dropping the priority wouldn't be as good as the page itself dropping its requirements - even at a lower priority the page would still be doing everything it did before, albeit more slowly, which leaves a lot of scope for better optimisation if the page knows it's not visible.

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair

In this case Google is working within the W3C to get this standardised

http://www.w3.org/TR/page-visibility/

However it's still early days, as that page says "Implementers should be aware that this document is not stable." and "This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress."

So there isn't a proper specification people can actually use and it is a bit cheeky of Google to already be asking web developers to use it.

Still it's better than their other attempts like SPDY where they single-handedly gone for their own way.

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WTF?

Google reinvents wheel! Oh joy!

Javascript site wide onblur and onfocus works for me. I even have an app that shows me who's logged on, what pages they have open, which one is currently being looked at (ok, in focus... nearly the same), and tracking progression through using onload and onunload. The only thing javascript can't see is what clothes the user's wearing.

Ok, so standard javascript probably misses some key features such as pre-loading support, etc., but the tech is already there... why reinvent/relabel it? I certainly ain't going to tell my users they must use Chrome so I can spy on them with proprietary tech when I can spy on them anyway!

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Not the same thing

What if your page is visible, but not focused? Eg an auto-updating dashboard - you'd still want to update if not focused, but not if invisible. Both are clearly useful in different circumstances.

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Anonymous Coward

This does raise a good point

Websites will now be able to spy if the users are actively looking at them or not.

I can see the marketing people salivating at the thought of ads that show up when the user returns to the tab (as they know they'll have your attention then)

Hopefully this is yet another "feature" that comes with an off button.

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Of course it comes with an "off" button

Though said button is somewhat confusingly labeled "uninstall".

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Sounds like a good idea to me

Suppose you have a page which auto updates - you can suppress the update while the page is hidden and save bandwidth and processor time. It's a common technique in "proper" (it non-web based) application development - instead of performing your potentially expensive update while invisible, just note that your display it out of date and update when you come back into view.

As for it being a proprietary extension - they all have to start somewhere, and they've at least made initial moves for it to become a proper standard.

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Bronze badge

Thank you, Malcom1...

This is my contention. If it saves bandwidth, then it's great. Of the 150 or more tabs I have open, most are on the other rows in Too Many Tabs. This keeps nearly-at-the-ready many sites I find interesting but end up loosing in the Bookmarks tool. I periodically cull or remove pages here and there from the some 40 tabs on Firefox's own tabbed bar.

The question is, to those who'd find it ghastly to have 150 tabs on hand, why cannot the user keep open as many tabs as desired? Maybe I could turn off images and deny placeholders, and jack up the page, but at least the URL will be there withou saying "Problem loading page", and, so on.

Also, when I fire up the browser, whether it's 15 tabs or 1000 tabs, why do they all need to call home? Just refresh the tab's URL or don't obscure it due to a failed connection. Just scrape or delete from RAM and free up RAM wasted on content the user is not looking at past a user-defined wipe time.

For the curious, I use (and, I'll eventually get around do donating to these):

-- Ad-Block Plus

-- Better Privacy

-- No Squint

-- NoScript

There's a bunch of SHIT out there that doesn't deserve the light of day, and mscreants spoll things for many of us who just want to surf in peace.

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Flash?

Have they talked to Adobe? Seems to me that most "activity" running on a page is Flash animations. Don't know if there's already some kind of "visibility" detection in Flash to allow it to "take a break" when no-ones looking?

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Anonymous Coward

tight coupling of Google and Chrome

See also Google Instant Pages. This is Google trying to embrace and extend...

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Stop

Ugh

...whereas I urge web developers not to help Google create the second coming of IE by refusing to adopt its proprietary APIs and focus on ubiquitous web standards instead.

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How clever of Google

... to suggest a new W3 standard which will coincidentally tell them precisely how much attention their advertising is getting. I know I can't live without it!

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