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Decrease your pages load time, one year later

More than one year ago, I blogged about pages load time and Jawr. Since then, either my projects were intranet applications where load time was not an issue or we had no say in the tools used. So, I had no possibility to use any of the tools I found then. Now, I’m soon to be faced by an application that will be used by people outside our network and I definitely want the application to be as responsive as possible. Armed with my previous Yahoo best practices, I hunted on the web for tools that could help me enforce them.

One rule I hold in high esteem is: minimize the number of HTTP requests. I think this rule has the most impact since browsers only send at most 2 HTTP requests at a time. Let’s take a classical example. Buttons play a big part in many applications and most of the time, you put an icon on them in order to tie them to the action in the user’s mind. This is simply done like so:

This means that any screen that display more than one button type has the potential to be slow. One way to dramatically decrease the number of requests is to aggregate all the images in one and use CSS background images. The latter is available since the first version of CSS, just specify the background-image attribute to display the image behind an element . This usage is called CSS Sprites. The code now looks like:

button.update {
  background-image: url('path/to/my/image');
  background-repeat: no-repeat;

The astute reader will have remarked that the previous code has the same effect as the in the

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