back to article Web servers should give browsers a leg-up, say MIT boffins

Latency plus complexity, rather than bandwidth, are what strangles Web performance, and a bunch of MIT boffins reckon browsers haven't kept up. To get around that, they've proposed a scheme called Polaris – not the same thing as the Mozilla browser privacy project – to focus on the order in which page objects are loaded. The …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even better...

    ... don't lard your website with dozens of trackers, beacons, JavaScript libraries, privacy-busting "social" widgets, multiple analytics scripts, etc. Then not only will your pages load faster in my browser, but they won't stall because some obscure ad network isn't responding, and I won't have to spend time installing extensions like Ghostery to keep them under some semblance of control. Thank you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even better...

      That is better.

      Browsers now have all the tools you need to make ridiculously fast and smooth sites. You can hint resource pre-fetchs and DNS look-ups. DOM fragments can be built and scheduled for insertion synced with the next frame. HTTP2 is a lot more forgiving when it comes to HTTP requests, which obsoletes old hacks like subdomain sharding. ServiceWorker opens up a whole world of intelligent caching, which gracefully degrades for older browsers.

      BUT once you start including 3rd party crap, that all goes out the window. Those scripts never follow best practices, competitively thrashing the DOM. Welcome to jank city.

      The funniest thing is, I've written huge native-like HTML5 applications, and after minification and compression, it's still much smaller than just one of those "social buttons". I can't understand how anyone can write bloat like it. Then again, I don't use jQuery.

  2. Timo

    I'd let the market sort this out

    I abandoned the Weather Channel website long ago, after all of the ads and clickbaiting and the glacially slow loading times. Nearly the same reason that I dumped the Weather Channel TV channel - remember they used to show weather? But now show shark week and "when tornadoes attack" stuff to fill the time between the barrage of ads. (Same thing with MTV; Damn kids, get off my lawn.)

    I posit that rather than fixing the weather channel, let any other company come in and deliver a better experience and get the traffic. I'm not sure that this is something that really needs a technical solution. OR - just load adblockers and take care of those pesky slow ad loading times.

    BTW El Reg sometimes seems to stall when its cut-rate adslinging servers take a break.

    And - is this something that can easily be twisted into a web server denial of service method? Or does it mean that the Weather Channel will need to buy a lot more computing capacity to pre-optimize their crap site? I'm fine with that - it might drive them to do an economic analysis of whether it is better to sling more ads and buy more server capacity.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd let the market sort this out

      Server capacity is only getting cheaper so the "just throw more resources at it" mindset is still prevalent, if not dominant. I skipped the whole Ruby on rails era, but back then it was actually heresy to suggest spending developer time optimizing.

      Nothing can save sites like, and New York Times. You'd have to burn the servers and legacy systems to the ground, and start coding from scratch.

    2. tony2heads

      Re: I'd let the market sort this out

      I use Weather Underground now

      1. maffski

        Re: I'd let the market sort this out

        I use Weather Underground now

        Which is presumably just a static page with the word 'overcast'?

    3. JLV Silver badge

      Re: I'd let the market sort this out

      Weather Network is a special case outlier of worst practices and info overload. I could almost understand if it was just the ads, but it's their overuse of clickbait articles and trivia that I truly loathe.

      Surprisingly, Time and Date has a pretty good weather section. I suppose all the raw data is more or less the same anyway for those sites so the presentation is what counts and theirs is very stripped down.

      +40 summers, -40 winters. Yay!:

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Everything said so far is true. Nevertheless, a nifty bit of software (and some good thinking) by the Polaris guys! (It's just a llitle bit sad though that good minds with good ideas have to solve problems that, ideally speaking, shouldn't even exist in the first place.)

  4. Ole Juul

    Found two problems

    "With ad sites, trackers, and third-party services delivering images and fonts, those dependencies have multiplied in the last decade, . . ."

    “As pages increase in complexity, they often require multiple trips that create delays that really add up."

    Once those are dealt with, we'll be good to go. You're welcome.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Those dependencies are why pages load so slow"

    Those dependencies are why I use NoScript and UBlock Origin.

    I rarely have page loading issues.

  6. GaileF0rce

    I'm been using Ghostery for the last couple of years - Not because I have any great hate of Ads or a fear of being tracked but because it stops your browser from downloading all the crud that websites today insist on plastering their pages with.

    The result is a super fast browsing experience where your browser only downloads the stuff you requested - It's amazing how slow the web becomes when using a browser that downloads all this crap.

    The other thing that Ghostery will show you you is just how much rubbish is on these pages as it lists all the objects it has blocked. It's a problem that's getting worse!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I've abandoned Ghostery for Privacy Badger, due to the recent Ghostery upgrade/user-account nonsense that had inserted itself at some recent point.

      1. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: the recent Ghostery upgrade/user-account nonsense

        Not even remotely recent but literally years old news.

        And the solution is as simple as it has been all those years: don't create an account and opt out of Ghostrank.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ghostery "literally years old news."

          I'm mystified. Despite getting regular "ghostery has been upgraded" messages every month or so, for the N-years I've been using it, only recently have I found that the options/settings config seems to have disappeared entirely to be replaced by "you now have to create a user account". Maybe I could have created one before, I suppose, but that's not the same as it becoming compulsory. Or perhaps you are right, and this latest thing was just a sneaky attempt by Ghostery to bounce me into creating a user account even though I could somehow have avoided it.

          1. Someone_Somewhere

            Re: ghostery "literally years old news."

            Have now been minded to take a look at my Ghostery settings.

            Noticed the new look they applied recently but it seemed to function as usual, so I just let it go with my previous settings.

            Was worth it!

            Although my comments about not creating an account and opting out of Ghostrank still seem to apply, rather worryingly I discovered that, whilst a vast improvement over what went before, the new settings 'dialogue' (for want of a better term) defaults to not blocking trackers!

            Have a look at your settings and make sure it's doing what it's supposed to!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Ah, academics rediscovering what web developers have known for years. The solution is simple: bundle & minify JS/CSS, and avoid 3rd party crap. The reason you still see so much bloat: social networks, wordpress, plugins, marketing departments don't care, target demographics don't care, it's low-priority for most commercial sites.

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