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Watch Your Whitespace

While this isn't technically an ASP tip, it's worth mentioning anyway. What's the difference between these two sets of HTML?

Set 1
<html>
    <head>
        <title>Page Title</title>
    </head>
    <body>
        <p>This is some text</p>
    </body>
</html>
Set 2
<html><head><title>Page Title</title></head><body><p>This is some text</p></body></html>

I know what you're thinking... "That's easy... the first one's readable!" and you're absolutely right, but readable by who? While I whole-heartedly support readable code, most HTML is meant to be read by browsers and not people. To a browser, the two sets of code above are identical except for the fact that the first one is over 50% larger (142 bytes vs. 90 bytes) and takes that much longer to download and display!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you should take out all your spacing and carriage returns, but poorly written ASP can add a lot of extra whitespace to the resulting HTML. This whitespace not only slows everything down, it actually causes more work for your web server and uses more bandwidth. So take a look at your site's HTML every once and a while and make sure it's not getting out of hand.

 

Note: I realize a lot of you are rolling your eyes and shaking your head at this, but it really can make a difference. I was recently working with a community-based portal site who was having some performance problems. The HTML to their home page was just under 33k. I was amazed to find that without even breaking a sweat (and leaving almost all the formatting intact!), we were able to cut it down to 24k! Almost a third of the page was totally worthless spacing. They were reluctant to strip all whitespace, but I'm sure we could have gotten that page down to under 20k pretty easily without really changing anything!

And if that doesn't convince you, take a look at the source to Yahoo's homepage sometime. You'll find very few extraneous tabs, spaces, and carriage returns. The most popular site on the internet needs to do all they can to optimize and they certainly took this tip to heart!


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