By Mac Slocum
Remember how Facebook used to lumber and strain? And have you noticed how it doesn’t feel slow anymore? That’s because the engineering team pulled off an impressive feat: an in-depth optimization and rewrite project made the site twice as fast.
Robert Johnson, Facebook’s director of engineering and a speaker at the upcoming Velocity and OSCON conferences, discusses that project and its accompanying lessons learned below. Johnson’s insights have broad application — you don’t need hundreds of millions of users to reap the rewards.
Facebook recently overhauled its platform to improve performance. How long did that process take to complete?
Robert Johnson: Making the site faster isn’t something we’re ever really done with, but we did make a big push the second half of last year. It took about a month of planning and six months of work to make the site twice as fast.
What big technical changes were made during the rewrite?
In addition to these big site-wide projects, we also performed a lot of general cleanup to make everything smaller and lighter, and we incorporated best practices such as image spriting.