Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project

Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, has been a controversial project since its debut. The need for the framework has been clear: the payloads of mobile pages can be just insane, what with layers and layers of images, JavaScript, ad networks, and more slowing down page rendering time and costing users serious bandwidth on metered plans.

Yet, the framework has been aggressively foisted on the community by Google, which has backed the project not just with technical talent, but also by making algorithmic changes to its search results that have essentially mandated that pages comply with the AMP project’s terms — or else lose their ranking on mobile searches.

Even more controversially, as part of making pages faster, the AMP project uses caches of pages on CDNs — which are hosted by Google (and also Cloudflare now). That meant that Google’s search results would direct a user to an AMP page hosted by Google, effectively cutting out the owner of the content in the process.

The project has been led by Malte Ubl, a senior staff engineer working on Google’s Javascript infrastructure projects, who has until now held effective unilateral control over the project.

In the wake of all of this criticism, the AMP project announced today that it would reform its governance, replacing Ubl as the exclusive tech lead with a technical steering committee comprised of companies invested in the success in the project. Notably, the project’s intention has an “…end goal of not having any company sit on more than a third of the seats.” In addition, the project will create an advisory board and working groups to shepherd the project’s work.

The project is also expected to move to a foundation in the future. These days, there are a number of places such a project could potentially reside, including the Apache Software Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation.

While the project has clearly had its detractors, the performance improvements that AMP has been fighting for are certainly meritorious. With this more open governance model, the project may get deeper support from other browser makers like Apple, Mozilla, and Microsoft, as well as the broader open source community.

And while Google has certainly been the major force behind the project, it has also been popular among open source software developers. Since the project’s launch, there have been 710 contributors to the project according to its statistics, and the project (attempting to empathize its non-Google monopoly) notes that more than three-quarters of those contributors don’t work at Google.

Nonetheless, more transparency and community involvement should help to accelerate Accelerated Mobile Pages. The project will host its contributor summit next week at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, where these governance changes as well as the technical and design roadmaps for the project will be top of mind for attendees.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Cloudflare introduces free network monitoring tool for mobile app developers

Cloudflare introduces free network monitoring tool for mobile app developers

When Cloudflare acquired Neumob, a mobile performance startup last fall, it was a sign that the company wanted to move beyond web performance into helping mobile app developers understand what’s happening at the network level. Today, the company introduced Cloudflare Mobile SDK, a free tool which could help developers understand network-level performance problems.

Cloudflare’s co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince says developers have had tools at their disposal to understand why apps crash on the device itself, but they have lacked visibility into the network, which can be a major contributor to app instability.

Developers access the monitoring capability by adding a couple of lines of code to their iOS or Android apps. After that, they can log into a web console to see network performance metrics. The tool is designed to surface problems like dropping packets because of a poor signal or moving from WiFi to a mobile a network, each of which can cause an app to hang or otherwise misbehave.

Screenshot: Cloudflare

The tool gives you the ability to see how the network is performing in various parts of the world and where you are seeing issues and as it gathers and display information, it should help correlate performance issues with a flaky network and the impact that could be having on app performance.

Over time, he says they will be partnering with other monitoring tools to give developers a single place to check their performance issues. “Our goal is how can we get networks to perform better and give app developers better insight about network behavior.” Prince said.

Prince says, for starters they are providing some basic suggestions on how to improve performance, but in the future, they plan to integrate the network monitoring tool more deeply with the rest of the Cloudflare toolkit to make it easier to tweak performance problems.

Cloudflare also sees this as a way to build a better understanding of how networks are performing in general, and as they pull this data together, they plan to publish a mobile network reliability report. “We expect as this gets built into [more apps], and gives us visibility into mobile network providers, we will able to see who is providing the highest level of service and who has spotty or bad data services,” he explained.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch