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How Browsers Work

Loading a web page is a complicated process. Browsers need to handle malformed HTML, over-creative scripts, bloated CSS and hundreds of images, and they need to do so without fail and in record time. In this video, we'll take a look behind the scenes and see the common steps browsers take to do so, explain concepts like DOM and rendering, and show where do the browser limitations lie.

 

Image Compression: Putting your Images on a Diet

Images are quickly changing from a boring topic to one of the most debated items on the web performance world. While they appear simple, choosing the right image format and encoding it in the right way could dramatically impact the image file size and the user experience. Since images make up the bulk of the page weight, these optimizations have a huge impact on page load time and user experience. In this video I'll explain what is image compression and why is it needed, along with some specific tips regarding Progressive JPEGs, WebP, JPEG XR and more.

The Web is Now Situational: Intro to New Video Series

Today we're officially launching the first in our Web Experience Technology video series. 

In this series we aim to help viewers better understand the many complex technologies involved in loading a web page today, with a heavy focus on web performance. The videos will cover anything form best practices & techniques to overviews of relevant public technologies to detailed looks at how Akamai technology can help. In this intro video, Mike Afergan, GM of the Web Experience BU at Akamai, will tee up the series and explain the concept of Situational Performance.


This October at the Edge Global Conference I'll be joined by technology visionaries from a wide range of industries and organizations discussing topics related to creating cutting edge experiences ... faster. 

I'm specifically excited to share details about the new Developers' Track we'll be introducing. We have some fantastic presenters lined up, including Geoffrey Moore - Author and Business Strategies; Gene Kim - VisOps Author and Entrepreneur; Jason Grigsby - Mobile Web Evangelist; and Josh Clark - Mobile Design Strategist, talking about stimulating topics ranging from DevOps to responsive design, and discussing steps toward adopting these cutting-edge development methodologies.


 

And, of course, beyond that we will share new information about Akamai product roadmaps, discuss best practices, and network with an incredible group of peers whilesharing a beer together after the sessions.

 

Stay tuned and I look forward to seeing you at Edge 2013.

 

Guy Podjarni

Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, Web Experience , Akamai

Akamai IO - Going Global

I'm writing this short post to update you on a significant change in Akamai IO's data source. Since its inception, IO's data was based on many websites, but most of those sites catered to a US audience. This means that the data set was biased - it included global traffic, but held a disproportionate amount of traffic from the US.

Starting February 16th, we've started using a new data stream, based on traffic from most Akamai customers - meaning a much more global distribution, enough to take away the entire bias. The new data set is also bigger, including over a billion requests each day, and uses a newer version of our device characterization engine.

Notable Changes
Looking at the data, you can see the market share has indeed changed.

For instance, the chart below shows IE's dominance fell from ~50% to ~40%, while Safari's share jumped to almost 10%. My guess is that this relates to the better sample even within North America, as opposed to the theory that Safari is just more popular outside the US.
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Another example is that Android's market share increased significantly to over 5% of the overall browsing traffic, and Opera's share more than doubled. Both browsers are known to be more popular outside the US, which is a likely explanation for this change.
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Then again, not everything changed. Chrome, Firefox and Mobile Safari maintained similar market shares, and even a global view doesn't help make Blackberry seem more dominant...

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This new global data set really highlights the need for a geographic split - showing the market shares by continent, country and perhaps even city. We're working on this feature, along with others, and hope to have it available by May.

Akamai IO - The Akamai Internet Observatory

Possibly the best part of working on Web performance is the community. It always amazes me how users, vendors, and even competitors work together to make the Web faster. Akamai does its best to support this community, through actions like sponsoring Web performance meetups and open-sourcing tools like Mobitest.

However, the most valuable resource Akamai has to offer this community arguably isn't tools - it's data. That's the reason I'm really excited to share with you the launch of Akamai IO - The Akamai Internet Observatory.

What is Akamai IO
Akamai IO is a portal for sharing continuous data from the traffic Akamai sees with the community. Akamai delivers roughly 2 trillion content requests a day, spanning Web sites from practically every industry and geography. This volume and diversity of data is pretty unique, and is a fairly accurate representation of the entire Web.

It's important to emphasize that Akamai IO is a source of data, not conclusions. We hope you will dig into that data and reach your own conclusions, helping everybody's understanding of the Web. We will summarize some of the data in the State of the Internet report, and highlight trends in blog posts, but not within Akamai IO itself.  

Lastly, the data in Akamai IO will be continuously updated. The exact frequency will change based on the data, but we hope to show data no more than a couple of days after it occurred. The timing granularity of the data will also vary, but our goal is to aim for daily data or better.

The initial data set used for Akamai IO is based on very small sample of traffic from several hundred Akamai customer Web sites, amounting to roughly 600 million requests per day. While small in Akamai scale, this is definitely a big enough sample to draw conclusions from. Over time we expect to grow that sample to include requests from most Akamai customer Web sites.

Open-Sourcing Mobitest

I'm excited to announce that today we're open-sourcing Mobitest!

We always saw Mobitest as a community tool. Following the acquisition, we raised the idea of open-sourcing it to the relevant people in Akamai, and it was immediately accepted. And so, roughly a month after the acquisition, we're ready to share the code with the world!

Mobitest? Huh?
If you're not familiar with it, here's a short recap on Mobitest. Mobitest is a unique technology able to measure page load times on real mobile devices. It offers detailed performance information, ranging from total page load times to individual request headers and timings. It can also capture screenshots during page load, and show a video visualizing the page load as it happened.

Mobitest runs on iOS, Android and Blackberry, regardless of the hardware - smartphone, tablet or simulator. It uses the default (embedded) browsers the OS offers, and can measure over any network connection the device is connected to, for instance WiFi or a 3G connection.  The Mobitest agents are installed on the device itself. Once installed, they run in an infinite loop on the device, turning it into a (very) small server. The devices poll a webpagetest server, and you can submit test requests and view results through the webpagetest UI.

We also offer a hosted instance of Mobitest on http://blaze.io/mobile/. This hosted version is a free service that lets you use our own devices to measure, which is easier than setting up your own. What we're open-sourcing today is the mobile agent code (the real technology), but the hosted version is still up and running, and we encourage you to use it.  


Blazing Akamai

As you may have heard, Akamai acquired Blaze today.

This is obviously big news for Blaze, and we're thoroughly excited about it. Beyond that, we see this as a big moment for the field of Front-End Optimization (FEO), and for the goal of making the web faster. Having Akamai provide an automated FEO solution will make this technology easily available to thousands of the top websites in the world, and make a real impact on the web.
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We see Akamai as a great home for both the Blaze team and technology, here are some of the reasons why.

The Evolving CDN
CDNs have been around for a while, and have evolved as the web evolved.

At first, CDNs were focused on caching static content across the globe. Whether it's big software downloads or page resources like scripts and images, temporary copies were created all around the globe. Since most websites were static, serving a file from a nearby Edge made web pages much faster.

Over time, websites transformed into highly dynamic beasts, and couldn't simply be cached. CDNs like Akamai and others rose to the challenge, and provided Dynamic Site Acceleration (DSA). New algorithms leverage thousands of synchronized servers for transferring data more efficiently, avoiding redundant downloads and more, thus accelerating dynamic content.

As the web evolved, technology adapted.

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