Feeds

Google urges background tab websites to throttle themselves

Here, use this API

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Velocity Google has urged website developers to use Chrome's experimental Page Visibility API to reduce their sites' activities when they're not actually being viewed by browser users.

Now included with the developer version of Chrome – and due for arrival in the beta version next week – the PageVisability API allows websites to determine when they're actually being viewed by users – and when they're just sitting in the background. The API can tell you when a site is sitting inside a background tab, but also when a site has been pre-rendered by Chrome's new Instant Pages tool.

Just announced this week, Instant Pages attempts to predict what Google search result you're going to click on and then pre-renders the page before you actually click. Of couse, there will be cases where Google's prediction is incorrect, and the Page Visability API allows webmasters to identify such false traffic.

But webmasters can also use the API to determine when a site is sitting in a background tab – Instant Pages pre-renders sites in what is essentially a hidden tab – and on Thursday, at O'Reilly's Velocity conference in Santa Clara, California, Google engineers Arvind Jain, Sreeram Ramachandran, and Mike Belshe asked developers to use the API as a means of scaling back their site's operations when they're relegated to the background.

"We all build our webpages on our own, and we try to take the resources that we need to run our webpages," Belshe said. "And that's what we should be doing. When we're in the background, if we can recognize that other pages are running too and knock our own stuff down, that's really the way to go".

Mike Belshe

Mike Belshe

Google has proposed the API to the W3C as a standard, and it hopes that other browser vendors will adopt it as well. After Belshe's talk, Mozilla open source evangelist Chris Blizzard told us that he and Mozilla are still mulling the ramifications of the API.

With Chrome, Belshe said, Google already worked to downgrade activity in background tab. He called this the "real" reason Chrome is so fast. "For things that aren't running [in the foreground tab], we knock them to a lower priority. Not only does that make sure that Chrome runs better, it makes it so that Outlook or Word or whatever else runs better," he said.

But he added that website owners can improve performance even more by "knocking down" their own activity when their sites are running in the background. "If you've got a webpage that's doing stuff constantly, you tap into the Page Visibility API, and you slow it down. You don't have to stop. Just slow it down."

Belshe ran a benchmark showing that Chrome is significantly faster than Microsoft Internet Explorer when heavy JavaScript is running in multiple tabs, saying this was the result of Google's work to reduce activity in background tabs. Blizzard told us that Mozilla is treating background sites in similar fashion with Firefox 5, due for release next week. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.