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Developer Reading List

, December 03, 2013 Ruby, Python, ASP.NET, Android development, PDF, and more.
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Building Fast ASP.NET Websites

by Dean Alan Hume

It seems inevitable these days that developers will be dragged into website development at one point or another in their work. When they are, they will quickly discover that the problems are multifarious: coding for incompatible browsers, testing, security, and performance. This book squarely takes on the last of these and does an excellent job explaining the problems and detailing the solutions.

The author presumes only basic technical knowledge, so he starts off with a refresher on how exactly HTTP verbs operate and what actually happens when an application interacts with a client. Then building on that base, he examines the sources of performance problems. To do this, he first discusses the tools that measure page load times and other contributors to performance and shows how to interpret their data.

He then explores solutions such as caching and its numerous complexities, minifcation and compression, HTML optimization, and other techniques. While some of the implementation details are presented in terms of ASP.NET, almost everything in this book could be applied to any website. The issues are essentially the same across Web servers and the solutions often vary in predictable ways.

The text is designed as a handbook: The tone is eminently practical and the contents intended for immediate application. This is most evident in the author's frequent mentions of specific tools and solutions — the latter including even content delivery network (CDN) options.

The only limitation I find in this rather admirable little volume is its brevity. The author barely touches on measuring and improving performance under load (nor even load balancing) and he almost never mentions security — so it's not entirely clear that his recommendations scale properly or whether they present opportunities for crackers. In addition, websites built in the cloud — the clear path forward for future development — is not discussed at all. More coverage of these topics would have made this an ideal volume.

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