The holidays are over, the New Year is nearly a month gone, and technology conferences are starting up again. It's time for DrupalCamp New Jersey. This year Pantheon's CTO, David Strauss, will be presenting State of the Edge: 2019 on February 2nd. I had a chance to chat with him recently about what he plans to cover. Here is an edited version of our conversation:
It was no surprise to hear David emphasize the importance of speed: "performance that end users get effects basically every indicator you could have for the success of a website." As the original architect of Pantheon, David built our platform for speed and scalability. He also led our partnership with Fastly to deliver the Global CDN that enables all Pantheon sites to deliver HTTPS in fractions of a second.
David emphasized that time spent waiting on the initial load of HTML from a server is often wasted time that cannot be recouped by making other aspects of rendering faster. "You wouldn't want to start [a race late] and try to make up the time by running faster. So, one of the thresholds I set there is usually a [time to] first byte of 500 ms or less."
One of the reasons I enjoy chatting with David so much is that while he can overwhelm with technical details, he always has practical advice. In his presentation, he will speak about 5G, the next generation of mobile networks, but he still recommends testing on 3G for developers building real sites because "a good experience on 3G is a great experience on 5G."
David also recently joined the Technical Steering Committee for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and his advice there is also conservative. "In the same way you might look at Progressive Web Apps and not necessarily want to bite off all that, it's a stack of technologies and practices that I think every experienced web developer that regularly works on front-end and edge performance issues should be familiar with as a set of practices because many of them are useful for any site that you might build."
If you can't attend DrupalCamp New Jersey to see David's session in person, he recommends reading the blogs of various CDNs to learn more about edge computing. I personally enjoyed reading posts from Fastly and Cloudflare about the cutting edge (pun intended) techniques they are using to execute customer WebAssembly with Fastly's Terrarium and Cloudflare's Isolates.
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