Tag Archives: Yahoo! Inc.

Computer Algorithms: Longest Increasing Subsequence

Introduction

A very common problem in computer programming is finding the longest increasing (decreasing) subsequence in a sequence of numbers (usually integers). Actually this is a typical dynamic programming problem.

Dynamic programming can be described as a huge area of computer science problems that can be categorized by the way they can be solved. Unlike divide and conquer, where we were able to merge the fairly equal sub-solutions in order to receive one single solution of the problem, in dynamic programming we usually try to find an optimal sub-solution and then grow it.

Once we have an optimal sub-solution on each step we try to upgrade it in order to cover the whole problem. Thus a typical member of the dynamic programming class is finding the longest subsequence.

However this problem is interesting because it can be related to graph theory. Let’s find out how. Continue reading Computer Algorithms: Longest Increasing Subsequence

Computer Algorithms: Data Compression with Prefix Encoding

Overview

Prefix encoding, sometimes called front encoding, is yet another algorithm that tries to remove duplicated data in order to reduce its size. Its principles are simple, however this algorithm tend to be difficult to implement. To understand why, first let’s take a look of its nature.

Please, have a look on the following dictionary.

use
used
useful
usefully
usefulness
useless
uselessly
uselessness

Instead of keeping all these words in plain text or transferring all them over a network, we can compress (encode) them with prefix encoding.

Prefix Encoding

Continue reading Computer Algorithms: Data Compression with Prefix Encoding

Use Cookie-Free Domain and CDN for Static Content!

Benefits from Cookie-Free Domains

Lately most of the web developers are talking more and more about optimization. One of the practices everybody’s supporting is to use cookie free domains for static content. First of all, what’s static content. That, in breve, are all images, JavaScripts and CSS. That’s everything that’s transmitted to the client with no change from the server at all. In a typical PHP/MySQL site everything generated on the server site is considered dynamic, while every component that’s given to the client with no change is static. That’s why they don’t need cookies in the request.

That’s what Yahoo! YSlow says:

In a short example, lets say you’ve a web page with 10 background images used by its CSS file. Here’s a good practice to combine them in one or even use base64 for them, but that’s another talk. So in that scenario you’ll send all the cookies you’ve on the site with this images, but actually they don’t profit at all from this. The question is why you should send all this data with no need? Won’t you benefit from sending it with no cookies.

As it sound logical I read some articles recently describing that the benefit from putting the static content on a non-cookie domain doesn’t pays back. OK it may be strange, however every 40 ms or whatever of page load is important, aren’t they?

Setup a Cookie Free Domain

The problem is that if you’d like to setup a cookie free domain the things are becoming a bit harder. You’ve two options:

  1. Move all your static content on a different domain, where no cookies are set.
  2. Move your static content on a different sub domain and set all the cookies to the www subdomain. (Here’s a bit tricky).

All this indeed a bit tricky! So let me proceed with the next topic.

Benefits from CDN

A CDN or Content Delivery Network is a term become famous with the growing web. Now big sites have servers in almost every continent and perhaps country. CDN is an abstraction of all this. The good thing is that there’s supposed to be stored static content. Think about the YouTube’s video files. Another good thing is that this domains are cookie free by default. The thing is …

Why don’t You Combine Them?

You’ll benefit from both ideas. Cookie free domains with CDN. In one side the web page will benefit from the closest location of the server and the CDN and in other side all this will come with no cookies to you. That’s really nice and most of the time people thing of CDN for only storing large scale data, such as video files, but no one says you cannot put your CSS, JavaScripts and background images there!

Speed up the JavaScript. It can change dramatically the user experience.

JavaScript in a modern web application

If someone asks you what is the javascript in modern web developer, probably you should answer it’s almost the half of the traffic of your site and it’s almost everything when dealing with user experience.

Today’s big web apps are useless without it AJAX/JS part. Think about Facebook, Google products, Twitter, Yahoo!, Youtube.

Actually they made this a standart. The times when you used to use JavaScript as a helper language just to figure out how a drop down menu will work are far way in the past. Now JavaScript is everything in a rich web sites. With no JS they will be no rich at all! Then it comes the question how to improve sites with lots of javascript. Actually one of the main problems in the web now is that JavaScript is blocking content.

Blocked by the JavaScript

What that means at all is that until the browser receives and parses the JavaScript file/s it doesn’t process anything else, it even doesn’t load any other resources. Now you can imagine how big the problem is. When it comes to large files more than 100K the user experience will be very bad!

Optimize the web? What about optimizing JavaScript!

If the problem is so big as I described above why should we doubt about where to start with the optimization process? But of course with the JavaScript and the natural question that rises is how this can be optimized at all?

Three steps

Like me, many of you may heart of some techniques that improve javascript performance. Here are some I was able to select as important:

1. minify/compress

That’s rule number one. If everything that is a JavaScript file is processed once it arrives to the client than make it smaller and make it go faster trough the wire. Actually one technique to speed up things more is to concatenated all the files you have into one single big file. Although this will not spend you some space will reduce the HTTP requests and therefore speed up the loading process. Good tools that you can use to minify javascript files are the Yahoo’s YUI Compressor, that beside that compresses CSS and Google Closure Compiler. Both are extremely useful and by the last measurements the Google’s Compiler is even better, but it’s up to you to decide which one to pick up.

2 .write fast and smart code

You can minify everything that’s JavaScript and the code may remain slow. But why is that? That’s because the JavaScript is written in a bad way. You know there are many resources in the web describing what is a bad and what is a good practice when writing JS. Even more you can measure it by yourself if you’d like to use the Firebug’s profiler. That’s a good start to avoid bad practices.

3. improve loading – lazy loading

That’s a bit more complicated. If there’s a really big javascript file after compressing and concatenating all the JS functionality remains big. How to avoid that? Simply let’s the user to see the most important functionality and than load the entire app. Some good tutorials about lazy loading again can be found online. Don’t hesitate to search about.

Beside this really basic advices I’ll continue to write in my blog about specific techniques how to improve the JavaScript as this is one of the most interesting parts of web development by me.

Optimizing the web. Start with the images!

Common question when speaking about web site optimization is: where should I start. As I mentioned before almost every technology used in the building of a web project can be improved. The bad news is that this improvement needs effort and when it comes to changing some code that’s already written that’s bad. The good news, as it exists, is that in the most cases most of the traffic of a site comes by images and/or other media and their optimization doesn’t have to deal with coding and can simply be optimized.

Optimize every image

The first thing that you can do to improve your site image is to optimize them. Sometimes the files you put on the site as they are JPEG, GIF and PNGs can be improved just by using some software that strips useless information from their headers and using various algorithms to smooth the similar pixels. As you may know in the case of PNG and GIF this is particularly natural. Stoyan Stefanov a lead Yahoo! developer is know as guru when it comes image optimization. You can check more detailed information about software and tools on his blog here. The reality is that you don’t need extra info into the images, as useless information about the camera, which is often setup into the image header, and when it comes to the web that’s really good. In fact according to some researches this can spend you more than 30% of traffic. Continue reading Optimizing the web. Start with the images!