30 May 2012

Twitter Website Faster on All Browsers

Now with more tweeting, less waiting.
You can thank Twitter's new 'Time to First Tweet' metric for what promises to be a better, faster

As part of a long-term upgrades program, Twitter engineers are rolling out a series of back-end tweaks which should mean provide better front-end performance for us end-users. Changes include eliminating the 'hashbang' (#!) from all tweet permalinks and shifting most of the page-rendering  to their own servers.

So, once in place what kind of improvement can you expect?

Twitter's announcement claims initial page-loads are 5x faster. Basically, the new back-end behaves more like Twitter's mobile client -- their server does the heavy lifting, meaning less work for your local machine. Twitter says this should also result in more uniform performance across platforms and browsers.

All of this stems from a  system audit that was looking for Twitter's worst bottlenecks -- what they call 'performance pain points'. Once identified, Twitter's Web Core team could figure out which points promised the best return for their re-engineering time. Here's what team manager Dan Webb wrote about the new UX metric.:
The most important metric we used was "time to first Tweet". This is a measurement we took from a sample of users, [...] of the amount of timeit takes from navigation (clicking the link) to viewing the first Tweet on each page's timeline. The metric gives us a good idea of how snappy the site feels.
Sounds as though they finally understand: slow site-performance bothers web app users more than the occasional Fail Whale.

Also on the list of recent upgrades is a new version of the standard tweet permalink page. In case you don't know what that is, here's an example of a single permalinked tweet from our Twitter feed, cropped and stripped of the background decoration.:

Click for larger version
...and here's an example from Dan Wong's personal feed. The permalink page shows his original tweet and one response. The newly-revised design has a less-cluttered appearance, plus in practice you should notice faster loading under some circumstances.:

Click for larger version
Don't be fooled by their looks; hashbangs have a long and contentious history. In brief, there are two things you need to know: (1) hashbangs point to scripting, not to a fixed webpage; (2) when they first appeared, hashbangs worked only with JavaScript-enabled browsers. Thankfully, HTML5 now allows us to finally eradicate the ugly critters.

Again, a few of the changes are already in place but most of the back-end stuff will show up in a phased rollout, over the next week or so. If you're interested in hearing about the geeky technical details, click our source link (below) to read Dan's post. And don't miss Dan's tweet, expressing his feelings on the hashbang issue.

While MobilePhonesFan mostly uses a standalone Twitter client, it's good to see Twitter making some long-overdue improvements.

via: Twitter

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