Another Trick

By David F. Carr  |  Posted 2007-10-15 Print this article Print

Steve Souders, the company's "chief performance Yahoo," says developers routinely focus on the wrong part of the equation.

: Controlling the Cache">

Another Trick: Controlling the Cache

Another trick is to configure your Web server to transmit image, CSS, and JavaScript files with an expiration header set far into the future. This tells the browser that instead of retaining the cached files for a few hours or days, it should retain them indefinitely. You're effectively telling the browser that these files will never change, and that it doesn't have to keep checking for fresh versions of them.

Of course, this is a lie—eventually, for instance, you probably will change your logo, your CSS font stylings, and your JavaScript. But since the browser identifies these components by Web address, you can make it load a new version by simply changing the filename or directory.

By applying a few of these simple rules, Souders' team was able to make a big impact on one of the most important sections of the Yahoo Web site—its search results page. "Within a year, we were able to improve response time by 40 to 50 percent," Souders says.

(Extra hint: To grade your Web site against Yahoo's rules, you can download an open source tool Yahoo has developed called YSlow. YSlow is actually an add-on to another Firefox browser extension called Firebug; together they provide a variety of tools for profiling and debugging Web sites and applications.)

Comments on this story? Write to its author, David Carr.

David F. Carr David F. Carr is the Technology Editor for Baseline Magazine, a Ziff Davis publication focused on information technology and its management, with an emphasis on measurable, bottom-line results. He wrote two of Baseline's cover stories focused on the role of technology in disaster recovery, one focused on the response to the tsunami in Indonesia and another on the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.David has been the author or co-author of many Baseline Case Dissections on corporate technology successes and failures (such as the role of Kmart's inept supply chain implementation in its decline versus Wal-Mart or the successful use of technology to create new market opportunities for office furniture maker Herman Miller). He has also written about the FAA's halting attempts to modernize air traffic control, and in 2003 he traveled to Sierra Leone and Liberia to report on the role of technology in United Nations peacekeeping.David joined Baseline prior to the launch of the magazine in 2001 and helped define popular elements of the magazine such as Gotcha!, which offers cautionary tales about technology pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.