Articles by
Eduardo Bouças

Software engineer with a crush on the web. Open-source advocate. Maker of things at DADI+. Mozilla Developer Network contributor.

Building a Website Performance Monitor

A couple of months ago I wrote about using WebPageTest, and more specifically its RESTful API, to monitor the performance of a website. Unarguably, the data it provides can translate to precious information for engineers to tweak various parts of a system to make it perform better.

But how exactly does this tool sit within your development workflow? When should you run tests and what exactly do you do with the results? How do you visualise them?

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How To Use WebPageTest and its API

While the richness and interactivity of the average website has changed dramatically over the last decade, the same can be said about the expectations of those who consume it. This page has a list of reports that show how businesses were able to establish a direct correlation between the their website's performance and conversion/revenue figures. For example, the engineering team at the Financial Times conducted a test which showed that an increase of just one second in load time caused a 4.9% drop in article views.

The underlying cause is pretty simple and it affects projects of all sizes (yep, including yours): users are becoming more demanding, less patient and not tolerant towards slow websites or applications. If your content takes too long to load, people will go somewhere else. Visiting a site that takes ages to open and navigate is a terrible user experience, especially on the dominant mobile environment where immediacy is crucial and battery life is precious.

For that reason, website performance optimisation plays an increasingly important role in the success of any online property. All major browsers ship with tools that allow developers to keep an eye on some important performance metrics as the build progresses, but these are measured from the developer’s own standpoint, which is not enough to see the full picture.

Factors like geographic location, connection type, device, browser vendor or operating system can heavily influence perceived load times, so testing all these variables is the only way to get a (mildly) accurate representation of how a website is experienced by a broader audience.

There are various tools and services to approach that problem, but this article will focus specifically on WebPageTest. We will look at it from a developer’s perspective, in particular at using its RESTful API to extract vital information you can use to optimise the performance of your site.

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Learning to COPE with Microservices

I vividly remember my first encounter with a content management system: It was 2002 with a platform called PHP-Nuke. It offered a control panel where site administrators could publish new content that would be immediately available to readers, without the need to create/edit HTML files and upload them via FTP (which at the time was the only reality I knew).

Once I'd made the jump to a CMS, I didn't look back. CMSs quickly became part of my toolkit as a web developer, and I didn’t really stop to question how they worked. I spent a lot of time learning my way around the various components of the web stack; falling in and out of love with different languages, paradigms, frameworks and tools. It took me a long time to stop and think about the most important part of any system: how it manages and stores content.

I set out on a quest to learn more about what's under the hood of a CMS (more…)

Thoughts on an API-First WordPress

The following is a guest post by Eduardo Bouças. We all know WordPress is a CMS, but here Eduardo thinks about using it only as an API for content. No front end at all, just URL endpoints that return JSON for use anywhere else. This doesn't detail a comprehensive solution to doing this, it's food for thought with some example code to get you going on a custom solution. If you want to get started developing on a system like this right away, WP REST API is the most robust project with the most momentum.

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Approaches to Media Queries in Sass

The following is a guest post by Eduardo Bouças (@eduardoboucas). Sass allows you to write nested media queries, which is wonderful in itself, but it's possible to abstract things a bit further. Eduardo tried a bunch of different takes on writing media queries in Sass, from the very simple to the complex. This is one of the reasons I like Sass. The language has all the stuff needed for clever folks to write complex solutions to real problems (e.g. this), and the rest of us can just use it. Eduardo ultimately comes up with a good solution that covers all his likes and needs.

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