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Chrome Dev Summit 2018: Building a Faster, Smoother, Capable Web

November 12th, 2018

Today, we’re welcoming the web community to the 2018 edition of the Chrome Dev Summit. Over the next two days we will celebrate the evolution of the platform and share updates on our efforts moving the web forward with the help of the entire ecosystem.

Chrome’s 10th birthday gave us an opportunity to reminisce about how much Chrome and the web have evolved over the past decade. We love seeing how rich the content, apps, and games you build have become.

Amongst other updates that we’ve made to Chrome, one that we work very hard at is making the browser fast. We see speed as one of the defining and most important features of the web. No other platform can match how quickly a user can go from discovery to the actual experience and move between websites, but this breaks down if the sites take too long to load or if the UI is janky.

Thus, we’d like to collaborate even more with the web developer community in delivering delightfully fast experiences to our end users, from the moment they click on a link.

Fast from the first click

HTTPArchive shows that since 2011, sites are using on an average of 8x more JavaScript. We’re starting to see the CPU becoming one of the main performance bottlenecks, especially with more and more code often compiled and executed on under-powered mobile devices.

Businesses who focus on the first load (and beyond) are increasingly seeing great results by focusing on the use of Performance Budgets. These budgets can be based on the byte size of your JavaScript, CSS, images and other resources, as well as other loading metrics. For example, you could specify that Time-to-Interactive will not exceed 5s on an emulated 3G network and specific class of mobile phone.

Consistently staying within budget as you add features over time isn’t easy. After Wayfair noticed their own regressions, they built an internal performance budgeting system for their developers to track their performance scores. Since then, their page speeds have continuously become faster, and they’ve seen a year-over-year conversion rate increase of more than 10%.

Pinterest revamped their mobile web experience focusing on performance and saw an uplift in user sentiment and engagement. Their mobile website is now their top platform for sign-ups! You can see their journey here:

Buttery smooth beyond the click

Optimizing the loading speed of your webpage is important, but so is ensuring that the page delivers a smooth, interactive user experience as it loads and after it’s displayed. This means responding to all user input quickly, in less than a 1/10th of a second, and ensuring that the user interface doesn’t “jank”— meaning the UI doesn’t pause and then jump suddenly.

Over the past decade, we’ve been evolving Chrome so that it can off-load as much work as possible from the main thread. For example, now we decode images and parse JavaScript separately, and with Web Workers you can execute long running JavaScript without blocking up the UI.

How buttery smooth can you make your web apps today? Especially if you have non-trivial workloads? Our team set out to explore just this, and the end result is a new application launching today called Squoosh. This powerful image compression tool launches almost instantly, and then manages a smooth UI even when it’s doing heavy work, including using Web Assembly to do more with codecs the browser doesn’t have baked in. Tune in to Jake and Mariko’s session later today to learn how they did it.

But there is, even more, to do here, and we are excited about up-coming platform APIs, such as Worklets, Virtual Scroller, and even a scheduler, that help developers build smoother experiences more easily. You’ll hear more about many of these tools and techniques in our Day 2 keynote and beyond.

Capable with deeper integrations

We’ve seen that PWAs make it easy to delight your users, grow engagement and increase conversions. Now with deeper integrations to the host OS and the ability to load and run faster than ever, your PWAs can really shine, yet most of these integrations have been focused on mobile-first, or even mobile-only.

Over the last 6 months we’ve been renewing our investments in providing these same set of capabilities across all desktop platforms. Chrome OS has given us a fantastic surface to really push the boundaries of the web, and based on these learnings we are expanding our Desktop PWA support across Chrome for Windows and Linux, with Mac support targeted to land in Chrome 72.

As we bring more and more capabilities to both mobile and desktop, we want to include the voice of the community to ensure we prioritize features that are important to the community. So today we are sharing our plan to get the capabilities YOU need on the web, and how we can work together to make sure we are solving your real world needs.

Helping you as a web.dev

We know that you want one place that consolidates all the reference information for modern Web APIs, and this is why we continue to collaborate with MDN on improving the core reference documentation of the web.

We have also heard that you would like more hands on guidance on how to deliver on the principles that make a web experience great. So today, we’re excited to announce a new approach: web.dev.

Through a partnership with Glitch, a deep integration with our Lighthouse tool and best-practice guidance from our team, web.dev helps you improve your site through direct and targeted best-practice and the ability to monitor your sites over time to ensure that you are always able to keep your site fast, resilient and accessible.

As we were working on web.dev, we were inspired by other amazing content on the web that help you learn. Dave Geddes, who created Flexbox Zombies and CSS Grid Critters, created a new learning game. Service Workies helps you understand Service Workers soup to nuts. The first chapter of the adventure is rolling out in beta now. We partnered with Dave to make sure the full adventure can be free to all, so check it out now and whatever you do, listen to Grannie!

Web design, right in the browser

At Chrome Dev Summit we cover all of the updates to our developer-centric tools and libraries that you know and love, but we also want to show you a new, early experiment that we would love your feedback on.

We remember the impact that Firebug had when it hit the scene, and how it showed how the browser could be the developer tool platform itself. Now we are also thinking about design on the web, and just as Lighthouse started as a Chrome extension to explore, we have another extension, Project Visbug, which allows you to design — right in the browser. You can download it now, but before you do see it in action right here:

Tune into our livestream or watch the videos on the Chrome Developers Youtube channel to follow the rest of the sessions of the day and watch this space for our Day 2 wrap up blog where we will have some more exciting announcements.

Posted by Ben Galbraith & Dion Almaer