On Our Radar This Week: Node, Meteor and Website Performance

By James Hibbard

Welcome to On Our Radar, a weekly round-up of news, trends and other cool stuff from the world of web development.

Top of the hour this week, is the story that the Pirate Bay has been taken offline following a raid by Swedish police. The last time that happened a lot of people were up in arms and many protests ensued. This time however, no one really seems to care, even when it was reported that they may remain offline for good.

Staying with illegal activities, the aftermath of the Sony hack continued, with all kinds of things being leaked to the internet. This included, but was not limited to: plans for new movies, celebrity phone numbers, celebrity aliases, embarrassing company emails and the salaries of its executives. Sony has also come in for sharp criticism from security companies for letting this attack happen, an attack that it seems could have been carried out by North Korea.

Finally, it was announced that the purchase of Bitcoin is not subject to sales tax in the US, which was good news for one company that successfully bid for 48,000 Bitcoins seized from Silk Road earlier this year. Bitcoin Black Friday was hailed a success, Microsoft announced that they now accept Bitcoin, and in the face of rising adoption, we were reminded that there are very tangible benefits to using the cryptocurrency. Bonus link: here’s a infographic highlighting the good, the bad and the future of Bitcoin for business. Yay for infographics!

Node.js is Well and Truly Forked

iojs Logo

The big news from Node.js land this week is the fact that the project has been forked by a group headed by some of Node’s primary developers. The fork goes by the name of iojs and happened as the group was unhappy with the stewardship of Node’s official sponsor, cloud computing company Joyent.

Reaction to the forking has been mixed, with some claiming Node’s future is in serious doubt, whilst others are urging people to stay calm and look at the bigger picture.

Oblivious to the fuss, npm (Node’s package manager) released a series of videos detailing how to use npm, how to install and manage packages, fix permissions, and more.

Here’s an insightful article on how to design a RESTful API with Node.js and Restify.

Streams are one of the more powerful features of Node. Here’s an introduction to what they are and how to use them.

If all this talk of Node has made you curious to try it out, here’s a (very) in-depth guide to getting started with the server-side framework, as well as a list, by the same guy, of the top ten mistakes Node developers make.

Let Me Take You to the Stars

Meteor (the open source platform for building modern web apps in pure JavaScript) recently reached its milestone 1.0 release. Having taken it for a test drive, SitePoint author Ciara Burkett wants to show you nine ways it’ll take you out of this world. I guess she was impressed, then …

A meteor developer decided to scrape all the Meteor apps he could find online and extract some statistics. His findings make for interesting reading.

In a tip of the hat to the previous set of links, the meteor podcast examined the forking of Node.js and what this means for the meteor community (it could be said that Meteor is to Node what Rails is to Ruby).

If you want to add comments to your Meteor app, here’s how you can do that.

Here is a good list of pitfalls to avoid when writing a Meteor app as well as a handy list of tips and workarounds.

And something to help you get through your Friday: a tiny drum machine written in Meteor (which I found surprisingly addictive).

Buzzword of the Week: Page Bloat

Page size graph depicting years 2010 (702kb), 2012 (1024k) and 2015 (2344kb)

Over the past decade and a half, the size of the average web page has ballooned to more than one megabyte. This phenomenon is known as “page bloat” and is primarily caused by images and third party scripts being included willy-nilly by website owners. Page bloat particularly hurts mobile users and users with a slow internet connection.

One way to combat page bloat is to establish a performance budget for your website. It’s not that complicated to do and in fact, planning for performance can bring all kinds of benefits.

Planet Performance is publishing one article a day in the run-up to Christmas detailing how you can improve your website’s performance. This article on optimizing images is my favorite so far.

One of the techniques that article mentions is spriting (multiple images combined into a rectilinear grid in one large image). Here’s how to implement CSS Sprites with Sass and Compass.

If JavaScript is more your thing, you might want to check out the following quick JavaScript changes you can make today for better web performance.

Finally, here’s a well-written article offering further tips on how to optimize your website for speed (and explaining why you still should).

CMS Goodness

WordPress 4.1 is almost upon us (the release date is currently 16th December) and there seems to be plenty to get excited about. This article on Web Designer Depot gives you the lowdown.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Google’s reCAPTCHA, well now several plugins have sprung up to help you add it to your WP websites with a minimum of fuss and configuration.

And while we’re talking about spammers, one of the tricks they employ is to register accounts with disposable email addresses. SitePoint author Agbonghama Collins takes a look at how you can put a stop to that.

WordPress 4.1 brings with it a new default theme: Twenty Fifteen. If that’s not for you, here’s an article on what else to consider when choosing your next theme.

WordPress is here, there and everywhere (or so it seems). Here’s a look at what it will take to dethrone the king of CMSs (spoiler: a lot).

One of WordPress’s weak points is performance. This is why more and more people are turning to static blog generators. Here’s a look at six static blog generators that aren’t Jekyll.

Finally, Storytime is Rails 4+ CMS and blogging engine. Installing it is a simple as add gem "storytime" to your gemfile (well, almost …)

So that’s everything for this week. Thanks for joining us.

I’ll leave you with the news that accomplished actor Christopher Lee (who played Saruman in Lord of the Rings) is adding “rock god” to his resumé, with the release of his third heavy metal Christmas single. Elsewhere Barack Obama has become the first ever US president to write a computer program and the stark revelation was made that the Orion spacecraft is no smarter than your phone.

Also, our benevolent overlords at SitePoint HQ recently asked a bunch of SitePoint authors what developer toys they would like for Christmas. They then managed to source them — without relying on Santa. Each of the items that the authors asked for can be won by the best comment in the respective posts. Here’s one of the things I asked for. You can see what the other authors wanted over on the main site.

So which links caught your attention? What do you think about the happenings in Node land? Is page bloat something you’re worried about? Do you have any experience using Storytime? Either way, we would love to hear your thoughts.


What illegal activities? You don't mention any illegal activities before that statement so you certainly are NOT staying with illegal activities.

Is the fact that Sony didn't comply with privacy laws an actual criminal offence? If so who in Sony is going to be prosecuted for this failure to comply with the law? Or is breach of privacy a civil matter and the individuals whose private information was distributed without their permission will need to take action on their own behalf?


The complete opposite of the situation in Australia where a 150 year old law defining what is and isn't currency was used to determine that bitcoins are goods and not a national currency and so are subject to GST.


I think he was referring to TPB, which has questionable legality. Then he proceeded into the Sony hack, which again is questionable legality (the hack - not their lack of security).


Was their server located in a country where sharing files is illegal? Since the web shares files and bittorrent is just another way to share files surely if sharing files were illegal in a given country then connecting to the internet at all would be illegal in that country.

Since bittorrent is a peer to peer service it is just like the telephone and can be used for both legal and illegal purposes. Was the country their servers were in one where the phone companies are prosecuted each time someone uses their phone for criminal purposes?

Or was this another case of the movie studios not wanting the difficulty of trying to find those breaching their copyright in order to take individual civil actions against each of them and instead trying to pressure a government toward making the internet illegal so as to save themselves the expense of either trying to find and prosecute those who have breached their copyright or (better) spending money on trying to find a technological solution to their problem.

While the internet is world wide and there are countries where copyright either doesn't exist or is a civil matter then a technological solution is the only approach to their problem that has even the slightest chance of working.


I don't know, which is why I phrased it "questionable legality". I'm playing it safe, though with the thoughts that the raid seems to have been successfully done and with little backlash about the legality of said raid (so far), I'd say maybe it was against some law in Sweden.


Get out of the wrong side of bed, felgall?

The three PirateBay co-founders, as well as a fourth businessman associated with the site, were found guilty of working together to administer, host, and develop the site and thereby facilitating other people's breach of copyright law. They got hefty fines and one year jail time. So, I guess they were guilty of illegal activities in the eyes of Swedish law.

The Sony hack was definitely illegal.

We actually have the same opinion here. I remember when Napster got sued out of business. Whilst the record labels were dedicating their time and resources to that, Apple slipped in the back door and changed the game with iTunes.


No. Just presenting an alternate viewpoint to try to get some discussion going.

Copying movies and audio for private use isn't illegal in Australia - the copyright owner would need to sue in civil court - so while such copying is unethical it is a legitimate area for discussion (since you raised it).

Since the movie people encourage people in Australia to make their own copies (by not making them available to buy for many months after they are available elsewhere and then by charging several times as much as they charge elsewhere) then it is rather ridiculous that they then try to get the law changed to make it illegal to do what they themselves encouraged in the first place.


This link may be of interest:


I have used Bitorrent to download Linux ISO files and it is really fast.


Thanks John, that's an interesting link.

Yup, me too.

I'm afraid I have pretty much the same opinion as you here.
Peer-to-peer networks can be used for good purposes (see John's link) or for the illegal distribution of copyrighted material, which is obviously not ok.

Although they are quite hot on illegal file sharing in Germany (where I live), they are at least also pragmatic and even recently passed a law that limits the fines copyright holders can demand from individuals using illegal file-sharing sites to download music. This law was intended to stop lawyers sending out mass mailings demanding huge sums for individual copyright violations.



But not necessarily illegal.

Making copies of copyright material for your own use is perfectly legal in Australia - it is only the sharing with others part that is illegal.


Engadget just released this article on The Pirate Bay Shutdown



Learn Coding Online
Learn Web Development

Start learning web development and design for free with SitePoint Premium!

Instant Website Review

Use Woorank to analyze and optimize your website to improve your website to improve your ranking!

Run a review to see how your site can improve across 70+ metrics!

Get the latest in Front-end, once a week, for free.