The Year in Review: W3C Web Performance Working Group

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The Year in Review: W3C Web Performance Working Group

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Fast HTML5 Web applications benefit consumers who browse the Web and developers building innovative new experiences. Measuring performance characteristics of Web applications and writing efficient applications are two important aspects of making Web sites fast. Browser manufacturers can rapidly address developers’ needs through interoperable APIs when collaboratively partnering through the W3C.

One year ago today, the W3C announced the formation of a Web Performance Working Group chartered with two goals: making it easier to measure and understand the performance characteristics of Web applications and defining interoperable methods to write more CPU- and power-efficient applications.

Together with Google, Mozilla, Facebook, and other industry and community leaders who participate in the W3C Web Performance Working Group, we designed the Navigation Timing, Resource Timing, User Timing and Performance Timeline specifications to help developers accurately measure Web application performance. The first three specifications, Navigation Timing, Resource Timing, and User Timing, define interfaces for Web applications to access timing information related to the navigation of the document, resources on the page, and developer scripts, respectively. The Performance Timeline specification defines a unifying interface to retrieve this timing data.

Resource Timing, User Timing, and Performance Timeline specifications are all in the Last Call phase of specification. Last Call is a signal that the working group believes the spec is functionally complete and is ready for broad review from both other working groups and the public at large. This Last Call period extends until September 15, 2011. The Navigation Timing specification is already in the Candidate Recommendation phase and has two interoperable implementations, starting with Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome 6. Together these APIs help Web developers create faster and more efficient applications by providing insights into the performance characteristics of their applications that just weren’t possible before.

Over the last four months, the Web Performance Working Group defined interoperable methods to write more CPU- and power-efficient applications by producing the Page Visibility, Timing control for script-based animations, and Efficient Script Yielding specifications. The Page Visibility specification is in the Last Call phase until September 8th and has two implementations starting with the second IE10 Platform Preview and Chrome 13. The requestAnimationFrame API, from the Timing control for script-based animations specification, has three implementations starting with the second IE10 Platform Preview, Firefox 4 and Chrome 10. This specification is very close to entering Last Call. For more information on these two APIs, see the blog posts on using PC Hardware more efficiently with these APIs (link and link). IE10 is the first browser to implement the emerging setImmediate API from the Efficient Script Yielding specification.

It’s encouraging to see how much progress we’ve collectively made in just one year. These APIs are a great example of how quickly new ideas can become interoperable standards that developers can depend on in modern HTML5-enabled browsers. Thanks to everyone in the W3C Web Performance Working Group for helping design these APIs and to other browser vendors for starting to implement these APIs with an eye towards interoperability.

—Jatinder Mann, Program Manager, IE Performance

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