November 19th, 2019
Whenever we take a part of the technology stack and make it more approachable to a wider audience, we’ll start to see an explosion of creativity and innovation. That’s exactly what’s happened with build processes and bundlers. There’s been an explosion of innovation in no small part thanks to extending where front-end developers can reach.
That’s why I’m really excited about edge computing solutions.
Using a CDN is one of the most valuable things you can do to improve performance and extend your reach. But configuring that CDN and getting the maximum amount of value has been out of reach for most front-end teams.
Each of these tools provides a programmable layer between your CDN and the people visiting your site, enabling you to transform your content at the edge before it ever gets to your users. Critically, all of these tools make doing these things much more approachable to front-end developers.
For example, instead of making the client do all the work for A/B testing, you can use any one of these tools to handle all the logic on the CDN instead, helping to make client-side A/B testing (an annoyance of every performance-minded engineer ever) a thing of the past. Optimizely’s already using this technology to do just that for their own A/B testing solution.
Using a third-party resource? Edge computing makes it much easier to proxy those requests through your own CDN, sparing you the extra connection cost and helping eliminate single point of failures.
Custom error messages? Sure. User authentication? You betcha. Personalization? Yup. There’s even been some pretty creative technical SEO work happening thanks to edge computing.
Some of this work was achievable before, but often it required digging through archaic user interfaces to find the right setting or using entirely different languages and tools like ESI or Varnish which don’t really exist outside of this little sliver of space they operate in.
I can’t wait to see all the experimentation that happens.