SitePoint Podcast #189: Websites Got Fat

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Episode 189 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week we have the full panel, Louis Simoneau (@rssaddict), Stephan Segraves (@ssegraves), Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy) and Kevin Dees (@kevindees).

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You can download this episode as a standalone MP3 file. Here’s the link:

  • SitePoint Podcast #189: Websites Got Fat (MP3, 38:58, 37.4MB)

Episode Summary

The panel discuss topics such as 30% page weight increases, are responsive images worth doing, the demand for different platforms when selling websites and more!

Here are the main topics covered in this episode:

Browse the full list of links referenced in the show at

Host Spotlights

Interview Transcript

Louis: Hello. Welcome to another episode of the SitePoint Podcast. We got a full-panel show back together this week to discuss the last few weeks’ events and happenings in the world of the web. Hi, guys.

Kevin: Hi.

Stephan: Hi.

Louis: How is it going?

Patrick: It is going great. Kevin and I were just together this past weekend, in Raleigh, North Carolina, for IndieConf, which is a conference for independent web professionals, freelancers, solo entrepreneurs, and so on. Kevin did a great job talking about pragmatic WordPress development. I performed at a satisfactory level. Right, Kevin?

Kevin: Patrick had one person tell him that he spoke a little fast, so Patrick got a 99.9 out of 100.

Louis: Right, OK.

Kevin: It was a lot of fun, a great event; a lot of freelancers, developers, programmers, and people of all stripes. It was pretty cool that we had a listener come down from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her name was Meg Prescott. On Twitter, she is @meg_at_e_lys. I realize that is not the easiest Twitter name to spell out.

Louis: That is an awesome Twitter handle.

Patrick: I spoke slowly there. She is an associate professor of computer technologies at Great Bay Community College, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and again, came about 760 miles, so that was really cool. She came just because we mentioned it on the show, and mentioned how we would be there.

Louis: Holy . . . That is extremely impressive.

Patrick: It was awesome. She was really nice. She attended both our sessions, also. We had a great time chatting with her afterward, at the networking event. Really, it was really cool.

Louis: That is awesome. That probably takes the cake for Listener of the Year.

Kevin: Yes, I would agree. I am going to vote 10-stars.

Louis: I know it is still November, but I think . . .

Patrick: Everyone else is going to stop listening then, because they are out of the running. That is great.

Louis: They are going to say, ‘Ah, no.’ Cool. I was also away on the weekend. I was at Rails Camp, in Tasmania. It was a lot of fun.

Patrick: Oh, yes?

Louis: If you do not know what a Rails Camp is, find one in your area and go to it, even if you are not a Rails developer. Half the people there were just hacking on JavaScript projects. It is an un-conference, one of those things where there is not really any schedule or anything; everyone just brings their laptop and spends most of the days hacking away on various projects, and most of the evenings either drinking, playing games, or just hanging out. It is 3 days, there is no internet, and you are in a camp situation, just dorm rooms. You spend like 60-straight- hours developing and working on projects, and then people demo what they built. There was a lot of cool stuff that came out of it. It was a lot of fun.

Patrick: How much did you have to rough it?

Louis: You do not really have to rough it, that bad.

Patrick: Did they make you program on Windows 95 machines? Do they throw you in the woods with an early 90s laptop that is like the size of your head?

Kevin: No internet, Louis. Come on, that is roughing it.

Louis: No. Admittedly, if you are used to, and I am definitely one of those developers, whenever I want to do anything, I just pop open the API documentation in a web browser and look up, ‘What is the method that shuffles an array, again?’ Not having internet, because I was even out of cell phone coverage so I could not even tether to my phone. On the one hand, you end up messing around on a console a lot and maybe discovering different methods that you did not know existed, or playing around with stuff, which is a different way of interacting with the language than just looking stuff up online. The other thing you end up doing is asking people about things like, ‘If you wanted to do this what would you do? Rather than Googling it. Asking people sitting next to you, especially people with very varied experience is a really cool way of being exposed to different techniques, as well.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun. If you are a web developer and there is a Rails Camp, or I think there are also JS Camps, as well, if you have a chance to go to one of these events, I would highly recommend it.

Stephan: Is that the point of the ‘no internet,’ to get you to interact?

Louis: Yes, I think so. There are no distractions; you are not getting any news, or Twitter, all you can do is hack. If you run into any limitation . . . The one thing is that we did have a local mirror of Ruby Gems, which is the Ruby Gem host, so if you needed to use a library that was on Ruby Gems, you could get it, so there is that, because obviously, that would be a limitation if you could not use any libraries in your code.
With all that being said, let us just kick in to the news. I think me and Patrick picked up on the same story this morning, or this evening for you guys. Patrick, did you want to introduce?

Patrick: I could take a crack at it. Craig Buckler, at SitePoint, that is, it is a website that you may be familiar with, I do not know. He talks about the HTTP Archive Report, and that report correlates technology statistics from 300,000 of the web’s most popular sites. The biggest takeaway for Craig was that the average page-weight has, in his words, ‘bloated by 30% in 1 year to reach 1,250 kB, yes, 1.25 MB. He breaks down the different technologies and how much they ave increased from the end of 2011 to the end of 2012: HTML code up 24%, JavaScript up 28%, CSS up 28%, and Other is up 35%. Other is mostly media like images, but also font stacks; custom font usage has also grown as part of that, 13% up from 7%, a year ago. Flash is the only area that has not increased, it still takes up the same amount, on average, of these 300,000 websites.
Websites are getting bigger. I was curious to know what you guys think of these observations. What about the thought that even though Craig says ‘bandwidth it is rarely plentiful and it is never free’? Bandwidth adoption is constantly growing. Is this a consequence of that, that there is more available, or is the expectation that websites are something that are going to get lighter over time? I do not know if that is realistic. What do you think, Louis?

Louis: Yes. Obviously this is pretty huge. A 30% increase in average page-weight across 300,000 sites, that is pretty representative sample. An average increase of 30% in a single year is crazy, that is insane. I weigh about 190 pounds, and that is like saying I would have put on nearly 60 pounds in a year, so that is a massive increase.

Patrick: We need a Photoshop photo of that one.

Louis: Yes, exactly. What would I look like if I were 60 pounds heavier? That is how bad this is. Talking about bandwidth, that is really interesting in one sense because, yes, on the one hand, broadband internet increases every year. Access to broadband internet, the number of households connected, usually in most places, you do see increases in caps. A lot of places do not have caps, and you get faster speeds. We are starting to see Fibre to the Curb roll out in Australia, Canada, and the United States, as well. Yes, on the one hand, we do have a lot more bandwidth so, possibly, it does not matter so much.
On the other hand, more and more people are accessing the web on mobile devices, over 3G, even on 4G, 1½ Meg for website is enough to slow you down, especially if it is not just a question of the speed but that there are a lot of external resources, then that means that you can only hold so many HTTP connection at a time. Usually on a mobile network there is a high latency even if the speed is pretty good. Yes, this is extremely concerning, I think. It feels to me like a big part of this increase is going to have to do with the spread of a lot of premade libraries.

Kevin: Yes.

Louis: I think web developers may be a little bit too trigger-happy just to reach for a big JavaScript library or a CSS framework to get an off-the-shelf solution, to be able to develop it quickly and not pay as much attention to how much of a jump that causes to the weight of the website.

Kevin: I absolutely agree with that, Louis. I think Twitter Bootstrap is the doom of the internet.

Louis: You blame this entire thing on Twitter Bootstrap?

Kevin: I have this sentiment against it now. Me and Twitter Bootstrap do not get along anymore, we had a falling out, and now I blame all the internet problems on Twitter Bootstrap. Seriously, when you think about how many sites use that now, I am actually really surprised that Twitter Bootstrap has not really had like a CDN setup, like you have seen for some of these other resources, like JQuery for example, just because the explosion in popularity of Bootstrap itself. Bootstrap, in essence, is a really good tool, however, it is massive. If you use all of Twitter Bootstrap, you are looking at, I need to look up the numbers for this, but I imagine it is right around a Meg exactly, just to use all of Twitter Bootstrap, if it is not compiled. Obviously, there is, for example, if you are using Rails, a project I have been using Bootstrap on, you run it through the compressor and everything so you do not have to query quite as much about it. These frameworks that everybody, like you said, jumps to right away because it is just so easy to have a design up and running.

Louis: Yes. Another thing that might be worth pointing out, not only frameworks, but even things like preprocesses like SaaS or CoffeeScript. You are writing code that is pretty terse, but sometimes, the output can end up being really redundant, especially in the case of SaaS, I think more so than CoffeeScript, because CoffeeScript ends up producing fairly well- structured JavaScript. In SaaS, if you just do a lot of nested rules and ampersand selectors, and you do not really pay attention to what that is actually doing, you can wind up with these really, really verbose CSS files that get output. I do not know, it seems like we are moving really hard in the direction of developer convenience with these libraries and preprocessors, and maybe not paying as much attention as we should to the effect that it has on page weight.

Kevin: Something just came to mind. A lot of sites are now using really large images for slides. Maybe this has a little bit to do with mobile, as well. My article actually talks about this optimization for mobile versus desktop; this idea that you need these responsive images and now you have this increased page weight because responsive design. Do you think maybe that plays a little bit into it? A lot of sites I have been seeing, that are coming out to redesigns, their images are huge.

Louis: Maybe. I do think that one of the really interesting things about this, and it is possible that this is maybe even a bigger impact. Wait a second. When we look at the jumps, because he has a breakdown by what has increased the most; Other increased the most, and I assume Other includes images.

Patrick: Yes.

Louis: Other includes images. Other is the biggest increase. There are big increases in JavaScript and CSS, and JavaScript is still one of the major culprits. If you look at, not only as a percent increase, but in terms of the overall, Other went from 629 kB. Other was the biggest piece of what was the weight begin with, and it has increased the most in a percentage sense. You got more than 200 kB of the increase is due just to Other, and that is mostly images, also font stacks. Obviously, web fonts is probably going to be a player as well, because web fonts really took off in the last year, and font stacks can be pretty big, so there is definitely a lot to be said for optimizing font stacks. If you are doing something, I will try and find a resource about this, but have a look at . . . what is the word I’m looking for? Kevin, maybe you can help me out with this. You know when you have a web font stack and you can select a subset of characters that you want to include, rather than including all of the characters in the font? If you know it is only going to be used for page titles and you know you will not need certain symbols, you can remove those symbols from the font file before delivery.

Kevin: I actually have an article on my blog that covers just how to minimize the size of your font. I link to, I believe Jonathan Snook had a good article at one point, and I linked to that, as well. Basically, you can use a tool called Font Forge to reduce the size of your font faces. If you are using them for, maybe you created your own, like you took a font and you made an icon stack out of it, or like you said, you just have an open source font and you put that through Font Squirrel and you have this giant file. What Font Forge lets you do is lets you go through and remove the characters that you are not using, so you do not have to use quite as many. There are a lot of other tools out there that you can use. Yes, I have an article and we can link to it on the show notes, on how to go through that, for files.

Louis: Awesome.

Kevin: Not to pimp my own article, but I know it is there because I wrote it.

Louis: No, that is fantastic. That is exactly what I was looking for. I just figured I did not have time to look up a link about that, but if we have one at the ready, that is fantastic. We will drop that in the show notes.
The other thing I was going to say is that because of the growth of mobile websites, I get the feeling a lot of sites probably have, or that some of these top 300,000, I would guess that probably a fairly significant percentage have a dedicated mobile site that does not load large images, and I think that has freed people up to use really big header images on the desktop versions of their sites. If you look at any site that was redesigned, especially news sites, but almost any site that was redesigned in the past year or two, there is definitely a trend toward using these massive masthead images or big textures for the background. A switch away from using these tiny little thumbnail images here and there, towards using really full-width masthead images for news stories. That feels like it could be a big player.

If you are doing responsive images, I do not know how the HTTP Archive did these tests, but if you are dynamically loading your images with JavaScript and being responsive, getting smaller images for mobile devices, or if you have a dedicated mobile site and you are only using those big images on your desktop site, then maybe the increase is not so bad, but it definitely highlights the importance of paying attention to this stuff. I think if developers think, ‘We got all the bandwidth in the world,’ because they are testing with a fast machine with a fast connection because you are a web developer, so you obviously have a fast machine and a fast connection, and you are just reaching for libraries willy-nilly whenever you have a problem, really pay attention to the weight of your site. If you got just a pretty straightforward home page and you are over a megabyte, then there is probably some work you can do.

Kevin: Right, absolutely. There are a lot of compression tools out there for images, as well. I think Yahoo! has a compression tool for images. You can throw your PNG into it and it will . . . basically, there are a lot of these lossless tools that you can use to compress images.

Louis: Obviously, if anyone is listening that does not use either YSlow for Firefox or Google’s PageSpeed Insites, in Chrome, definitely use those tools, because that will point out anything. It points out some stuff that probably does not matter, like minimizing your HTML is a pretty low benefit thing you can do. In terms of overall stuff, obviously GZipping, making sure your images are compressed, making sure your JavaScript and CSS are minified. Moreover, I do not know about you guys, but I have seen sites on several occasions, and I think this came up recently. We were looking at some redesign and they had managed to accidentally include JQuery in the page twice, from two different sources?

Kevin: Sounds like a WordPress install.

Louis: Obviously, that is just ridiculous.

Kevin: Yes, absolutely. If you are not going through and checking what files are included and if some are included twice, redundancy is the number one killer of any performance. Even at a programming- level, you do not want the same object or include loaded twice.

Louis: Awesome. Steven has been too quiet, I think we should do Steven’s story.

Kevin: Stephan, you have backed yourself into a corner.

Stephan: On a slightly different note, we are going to talk a little bit about demand for platforms on the internet. Flippa, Louis, just came out with a new study. They had some data done up, I guess you guys use an internal measuring system or API to get these statistics, and they have a number of statistics on what is powering the internet. It is a nice little infograph on learnings that you guys have made over the last 12 months. Some interesting things: Demand for different products, different CMSes, different forums, and all that is rolled up into a nice little chart. It is interesting because WordPress is on the decline; it seems, down 4.2% in the last year. That is some interesting things. What else stood out?

Louis: WordPress? That is demand for WordPress sites.

Stephan: PHP usage is down; I guess that is not really surprising. I do not know, what do you guys think of this? It is a lot of information from last year.

Louis: If you have a look at overall, if you look at the demand and supply of WordPress sites in 2012, it is nearly 85% of the market. Obviously, when the market is that saturated with WordPress sites, and because WordPress is so easy to setup on shared hosting and a lot of one-click installs, you definitely get a lot of WordPress sites that are just the domain name with a WordPress install, it is just an idea. They sell at pretty low rates. I think it is normal that demand would slack off because it is a pretty saturated market there, and the subset of sites that are established, have good traffic, and have revenue is a bit less for WordPress sites, probably just because it is so easy to get going. In terms of the other numbers, what have we got?

Stephan: The other big one was Magento, it dropped by 31.7% from last year.

Louis: It seems like Magento dropped significantly and Shopify skyrocketed. It seems like Shopify is making big gains, probably at the expense of Magento.

Kevin: Do you think the Magento chain has a little bit to do with ex- commerce that eBay had?

Stephan: Just some interesting numbers on vBulletin, it is up 6%. I guess we are seeing a little bit more demand for forums. I have never heard of Pligg, but I went and looked it up and it is like a social networking platform that you can customize, so it has taken off a little bit, too.

Louis: Which one is that, sorry?

Stephan: Pligg, P-L-I-G-G.

Louis: No, I have never heard of that either.

Patrick: Is Pligg not and Digg-type clone?

Stephan: It looks like it is like a framework.

Patrick: Or it used to be. At one point, maybe that is how it started. It might have changed, but I am pretty sure that Pligg used to be. Yeah, it was a Digg-like clone.

Louis: Oh, yes. Right.

Patrick: I do have a question though. My understanding of this, in reading it is that, and I just want to verify this. Supply is the number of times a site powered by this was listed for sale on Flippa. Is that correct? Demand is how much they were purchased? Am I understanding that?

Louis: If you look at the very bottom of the page, at the very bottom down there. ‘Supply data is based seller-provided tagging, as well as third-party listing.’ That is any time a site is put up for sale, that applies to supply.

Patrick: OK. That is what I was thinking.

Louis: Demand is based on views for the tags, so page views for those tags; if you have a page that is all the listings with the Ruby tag, for example. Page views for that tag and searches for those keywords, as well, are combined into the demand numbers.

Patrick: That is basically what I was thinking. OK. I think it is interesting, I do not know that it necessarily strikes me in any sort of way. Obviously, Shopify growing in popularity, as far as sites people want to sell. In forums, obviously, vBulletin is a commercial solution. PtDB tends to be far and away the most popular, most widely used solution because it is free, open source, came into the market at a good time, has a great community, and so on. vBulletin is popular, especially with forums where there is a lot of monetization, and I think that that does play well into Flippa, as well, because you are selling websites, oftentimes, based on evaluation of monthly revenue, so it makes sense that vBulletin would be so dominant. Though, I am surprised at to the extent that it is; 91.3% of the supply, and MyBB having 8.7. That leaves little for the other platforms.

Louis: One of the things that I find even more interesting than the supply and demand breakdowns is the average sale prices of these different sites. For example, if you look at average sale for CMS, the average sale for a Drupal site is nearly 4-times the average price for a WordPress site.

Stephan: Is it just because Drupal is harder to develop for?

Louis: Yes, just because you have spent 10 times as much work building the thing.

Patrick: The site to have the most IE6 adjustments is the site that is worth the most because of all the development hours. I think some of this has to do with Drupal having such a small demand. It makes sense that the more you would pump into something, the more sites there are, the lower the sale will be, because then you start getting into the lower-priced sites dragging down the average, is what I am trying to say.

Louis: That is fair to say.

Patrick: It is interesting, because Shopify maintains a pretty nice percentage of the demand and it also maintains the top dollar amount at over $10,000 for the eCommerce platforms.

Louis: A very high price despite being probably the easiest eCommerce platform to use. They are interesting numbers. Obviously, if you are building a website that you think you might eventually want to sell or that you plan on monetizing and then potentially eventually selling, then maybe you do have to think about the technology choices, not only in terms of what technologies you are comfortable with and what technologies you think are going to be the easiest for you to work with, but also what technology choices you are going to be able to then be able to sell the site. If you use something that is less portable across different hosts, something that is harder to set up, or something that is less-known, then you might have a harder time selling your site than if you used something that everyone is comfortable with and that is easy for people to transfer on to their own hosts, for example.

Patrick: At the end of the day, if you make piles of money, on Flippa it will all get thrown to the side as long as you make piles and piles of cash.

Louis: That is true.

Stephan: I think the average sale for a .NET development site is $17,000, and that is almost double a Ruby website, which is the next highest.

Louis: I am a little bit surprised by that, let me look at this. In terms of supply, .NET is a fairly small chunk of the supply. 3.4% of the sites listed are written in .NET, so it is a very low number. I do not even know what to think about that.

Patrick: I think it is more of a small sample issue with that, because it is such a small amount of demand, that . . .

Louis: It might be a very small sample. I am actually curious.

Patrick: It is almost like a niche curiosity, maybe people pay a little more for. I do not know.

Kevin: It is the people using SharePoint for their websites is what it is.

Louis: People using what, sorry?

Kevin: SharePoint, I am sure.

Louis: Right.

Stephan: That could be it.

Louis: I am actually going to go and have a look at what is there. WordPress; there are currently 500 open WordPress listings. Obviously this is based on, for any one of these platforms, there are not very many, most of them except for WordPress, PHP, something that is a high volume thing, you do not have a lot of listings open simultaneously. Just looking at the open listings, right now you cannot really see much, in terms of what is happening in .NET and vBulletin. Nonetheless, some interesting statistics for anyone who is interested in buying and/or selling websites. Hint, hint. Plug.

Patrick: What we have learned in the end today is that you use Shopify, Drupal, and .NET, that is what you use when you use a website; you use all those together, somehow. I do not know how you are going to do it, and I am not even a developer, but I can imagine the complexity that exists with that conundrum. If you do it, you could be the next .com millionaire.

Louis: After the 17 years it has taken you to get the thing up and running, you might be able to sell it for a slightly higher price.

Stephan: Cool.

Louis: All right. I reckon that is a wrap.

Kevin: All right. I have an article over on Boagworld: Dan Sherman posted this, and it is basically on responsive images and how to handle this. He gives some of the common examples of how that would be handled server-side or loading mobile images by default and sniffing out screen size to load bigger images. Also, he talks about the reposed picture element, and just the different ways you can do that; loading different images as backgrounds, using media queries, that kind of thing. The list goes on, he says. Basically, he comes to the conclusion that mobile networks compress these things by default, so why bother to do anything, at all?
He has some interesting stats on this, actually. He says that this technique of not bothering with responsive images works for him about 98% of the time, 98.21% if you want to be super technical. Basically, he talks about how the mobile networks compress these images by themselves. He was able to see an image that was approximately 12,000 pixels wide go from 470 kB, and he watched that drop down to around 45 kB, just from the mobile network compression. I do want to make a note, because Paul made it within the article, if you go into this article and you look at the images as the example, WordPress is doing some funky stuff, so you really need to perform this test on your own. Basically, that is a big difference.

Louis: It is definitely a big difference.

Kevin: It is like 1000% decrease.

Patrick: You cannot have a 1000% decrease.

Louis: Look. It feels like before I decide to do this craziness. I would need really good statistics on how many different carriers this was tested with. Obviously, the level of compression is going to be different. Some carriers might choose not to do compression.

Kevin: Right.

Louis: Especially, you would have to check this across multiple countries, obviously. I am assuming this author is in the UK, probably?

Kevin: Right. Paul’s company, Headscape, is in the UK, yes.

Louis: Whether that is also the case with carriers in other countries. I think it is obviously a super-refreshing look at the issue of responsive images and I think it is totally valid, because you do not have to worry about the situation of, as we have talked about several times on this show before, when I spoke with Jeremy Keith, we talked about this. The correlation between screen size and bandwidth is not as strong as I think most developers would like to think it is. Just because you have a small screen, you could be using like a 7 inch tablet or 4½ inch phone, just because you have a small screen does not mean you are on a low connection. Maybe you can afford to have a nice crisp image because you are on broadband. Dan’s solution of just relying on the mobile carriers does do away with that, because you know the mobile carrier is the 100% sure way of knowing that someone is on a slow connection.
On the one hand, I think it is great, refreshing, something that . . . there has been so much discussion about responsive images in the past year, any different approach to it I think is really interesting. It feels like before going down this road, especially if you are doing a site that is going to have a big audience and you really care about that mobile experience, I think you would want to see more testing on any carrier in any country that you expect a sizable portion of your user base to be coming at you from.

Kevin: Yes, I agree with that, Louis. I feel like Dan, in his article, talks a little bit on that note of, ‘Before you just decide not to do anything, look at the project requirements.’ Because at the end of the day you could put time into maybe something a little more important than optimizing images, especially if it is a blog that is not image heavy, maybe a design that does not have a lot of images. There is a give and take in development time. He said, obviously . . . He listed the techniques above, so he is obviously saying, ‘You can use these if you want to, but here is an alternative method.’ Maybe he is saying we just do not need to put as much effort into it right now as we think we do. I do agree, you do not want to make an assumption, especially if you are developing a site and your client has paid for an optimized mobile experience. You are just not going to ignore it and say, ‘They are going to take care of it,’ it is lazy.

Louis: Like I said, I would love to see more statistics about this. Obviously, it is a huge endeavor of going through the effort of finding out what you are looking at; probably 4 or 5 major carriers in each country and potentially hundreds of countries that you might want to have statistics for. Obviously, it could be a big challenge to find out how much compression, what types of files are being compressed, and all of that information across multiple carriers. Obviously, it would be awesome statistics to have.

Kevin: Yes, absolutely. It would be nice to see, as well, Wi-Fi put into that, for the mobile devices, anyways; Wi-Fi to using 3G or 4G.

Louis: Oh, what are the percentages, yes. I did see some stats on some point that was pertaining specifically to tablets. In those cases, I think this was back when it would have been the first or second iPad and there were not really any other tablet competitors that had a significant market share at the time. I remember reading some statistics that something like 90% or 85% . . . obviously, do not quote me on this number because this was years ago and I do not remember it, but a very high percentage of sites viewed on the iPad were over Wi-Fi, not on 3G. There are probably a lot of smaller and lower-cost tablets, like the entry-level models of the Nexus 7 and 10, and the entry level models of the Kindle Fire, which do not have 3G or mobile data. I think that goes along with the general consensus that a lot of tablet use seems to be in the home, it is a device that people use, if you would usually just be browsing Facebook or reading a book on your kindle in bed, you could do that on a smaller tablet or a lower-end tablet.
I think on those devices, there is defiantly going to be a lot of Wi-Fi use. Once you get into mobile phone territory, then it is all up in the air. We need more data, basically, is what I am saying. I am saying this is a great idea that this article presents, but I would not go down this path without having a lot more data about what different carriers are doing.

Patrick: Something wicked this way comes.

Kevin: I think that is a wrap. I think that is good.

Louis: I do not know how to respond to that.

Patrick: It is a dangerous path, Louis. Do some research first before you traverse it.

Louis: Yes, OK. There we go.

Kevin: Louis, are you saying we should think before we act?

Louis: I am suggesting that. I know it is crazy

Kevin: I do not know if I can accept that.

Patrick: That is what a pragmatic developer would do, right Kevin?

Kevin: Yes, that is what I do.

Patrick: Excellent.

Louis: OK, guys. I imagine it is time for our Host Spotlights. What has caught your eye in the past few weeks, on the World Wide Web?

Patrick: My spotlight is a comic by The Oatmeal. It is called ‘Some Thoughts and Musings About Making Things For the Web: A Rather Lengthy Comic by The Oatmeal.’ Have any of you read this yet?

Louis: Yes.

Stephan: Oh, yes.

Louis: I read it when it came out, obviously.

Patrick: Good. It is a spotlight that everyone already knows about, excellent; those are the best kind. Anyway, it is really funny. If you make things for the web and you have even a modest size audience, I think this will speak to you, I know it did speak to me; I thought it was a lot of fun. I particularly like the idea, and I have talked about this before with sites like Lanyard that do not have comments. The thought that a lot of people who create things feel that there needs to be comments on every single thing that they create, and how that is not always a positive thing, how it can be a negative. That is just one of the many observation that were made in the comic, that I found to be interesting, and of course, it has got that Oatmeal humor, so it is a lot of fun, as well. I know I was cracking up as I read it.

Louis: Awesome.

Kevin: Very cool.

Patrick: Who is next?

Kevin: My spotlight is actually a … ah what’s wrong with me?! Retro Game Crunch, say that two times fast. Basically, it is 6 games in 6 months, it is a kick starter. I have to put disclosure in here; I do know Shaun, who started the project. Do what you will with that, but I actually like it. It seems pretty cool. Basically, they are going to do these HTML-vibe video games and you will be able to play it on Mac too, I do not know, or Windows. It is really cool. Basically, they did a competition, and in the competition they did like a 78-hour game or something to that effect. They created this game called Evolution. I played it; it is pretty fun for a quickly made game. I am curious to see what they can do quickly. If anything, it is worth checking out just to check out the game that they reference, that they have already developed, that you can check out. The website is, but it will take you to the Kickstarter. It is a little fun thing, check it out.

Louis: Very cool. I like the look of this.

Patrick: I would just like to point out that the first two spotlights both involve someone named Inman.

Louis: I am going to buck the trend and bring to the table a spotlight that does not involve someone named Inman. As we know, The Oatmeal is written by a guy called Matthew Inman and Retro Game Crunch is run by Shaun Inmans. Unfortunately, I do not have another spotlight featuring someone called Inman. What I do have, however, is a cool Twitter account that is called VimTips. So, which is just a not-quite-daily, but every-so-oftenly helping of short tips and tricks on how to use Vim more efficiently. Obviously, anyone who uses Vim as their text editor will know that . . . I do not think there is anyone alive that knows all of the commands that are available to you in Vim. I personally, probably know like 10% of them, and it is still faster and more powerful than any other editor I could imagine using. It is great to have access to other people’s little tips and little quick; either search patterns, different commands, or combinations of commands that let you do really useful things. It is a really cool Twitter account to check out if you are a Vim user. If you are not a Vim user, you should be.

Stephan: I am not a Vim user, but this is interesting.

Patrick: I am not a Vim user either. I think with that survey sample in mind we can safely forecast that 50% of the world, at least, is not a Vim user.

Kevin: I would say Sublime is a good alternative.

Stephan: Wait. Louis, do you use a Mac?

Louis: I use a Mac; however, almost all of my development is done on a Linux VM over SSH.

Patrick: Scandalous.

Louis: I do not actually dev on the Mac. The Mac is just an expensive aluminum box to get into Linux with.

Stephan: Gotcha. I was just wondering, because I have seen some of the Vim clients for Mac and nothing is very impressive. That is why I was wondering.

Louis: No, just terminal, all the way.

Stephan: Gotcha.

Louis: Anyone that says otherwise is crazy.

Patrick: Cool.

Louis: Bring on the flaming.

Stephan: Emacs!

Louis: I just want to say to our listener who is an Emacs user . . . sorry. I know there is just one of you, but I did not want to offend. So, sorry.

Patrick: You could still be Listener of the Year if you come to a conference that me and Kevin are both at, and you travel at least 800 miles.

Stephan: I think Louis might disqualify them.

Louis: On the basis of being our only Emacs listener? No, he is cool. Emacs guy is alright. I will vouch for him.

Stephan: I guess I will go last, then. I basically have an online book, or I do not even know how to describe it. It is just a tutorial in a bunch of sections on how to use D3.js, which is a data visualizations library. It is pretty interesting just because I am getting into this data visualization stuff, and this is a great place for me to start because I am not a JavaScript-savvy person.

Louis: This is very cool.

Stephan: Yes. It walks you right through what you are actually doing, how you are using the data that comes to your page, and how to translate that data into some visualization. It is really neat.

Louis: Yes, that is cool. Every single person I know who has used D3 has said, ‘D3 is awesome. It is the best thing ever, but the learning curve is, to say the least, a little steep, and it will involve at least a couple weeks of tearing your hair out.’ Having a good resource like this with a really good one-stop- shop for a full tutorial taking you all the way through is pretty awesome. Although Kevin will take issue with this site, for obvious reasons.

Kevin: Yes, here is another great example of Twitter Bootstrap. I have to say, Stephan you are not the only one who endorses this. The most interesting man in the world also endorses this.

Louis: Yes, also.

Stephan: Yes, it is true. It is.

Patrick: When he needs visualization, he uses D3.js.

Louis: Awesome, guys. It has been yet another great show.

Kevin: Yes, I think so.

Patrick: If you say so.

Louis: I do say so, OK? All right. Let us take it around the table.

Kevin: I am Kevin Dees and you can find me at and @kevindees on Twitter.

Patrick: I am Patrick O’Keefe. I blog at On twitter @ifroggy.

Stephan: I am Stephan Segraves. You can find me on Twitter @ssegraves, and I blog every now and then at

Louis: I am Louis Simoneau. You can find me on Twitter @rssaddict. You can also find SitePoint on Twitter @sitepointdotcom. You can find the Podcast on the web at You can see all of our past episodes there, you can leave a comment, as well, and you can get the RSS feed. Of course, we are on iTunes, so feel free to look us up there. Leave us a review if you like this show. You can e-mail us if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or stories. The address to use is Thank you for listening. Bye, for now.

Audio Transcription by SpeechPad.

Produced by Karn Broad.

Theme music by Mike Mella.

Thanks for listening! Feel free to let us know how we’re doing, or to continue the discussion, using the comments field below.

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