back to article Virgin America tunes up with YSlow

Ravi Simhambhatla's latest project employing open source has been to juice up the web site for Virgin America, the US's newest carrier, so travelers can surf smoothly and purchase tickets without waiting for pages to build. Virgin America relies heavily on the power of, which pulls in 80 per cent of sales, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    site tuning - the lost episodes

    > "The visual perception of how quickly or slowly a page loads is more important than the technology behind it"

    I sure as hell wish someone would tell that to the architecture astronauts around here. With a hammer.

    They're all XML this and AJAX that, and dynamic pages with dozens of database queries each. So we've got these huge servers to host just the prototype, and hell to pay when it goes live and doesn't scale worth a damn.

    I make sure to put all my predictions in writing, as "I told you so" is the sweetest phrase in IT.

  2. Alan Donaly


    So I ran yslow on this article and you flunked,

    page 1 f (58) page 2 (56) in particular it failed to use a CDN, no expires header and too many HTTP requests, you could also stand to reduce DNS lookups. Neat tools.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tuned for speed

    But Mr Unpronounceable surname, if your site is so tuned for speed,

    why do you have all names along the top as images rather than text ? even with compression, you wont get down to the size of text itself.

    why think of Hibernate when it is far from the fastest persistence mechanism around ?

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge

    The Missing Link.... ? and ITs Master Pass Key.

    "build your own content networks (which we don't do),.."

    Who or what then does that Source for Virgin/Sir Richard?

  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    The Last Mile ...... is a Quantum Leap into the Virtually Unknown Known.

    "They're all XML this and AJAX that, and dynamic pages with dozens of database queries each. So we've got these huge servers to host just the prototype, and hell to pay when it goes live and doesn't scale worth a damn."

    Presently all Show and no Go.... A Virtually Toothless Dog and of No Use to Man or Beast, AC.

    ITs dDevelopment though is Work Well in Progress.

  6. Richard Conyard
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    Sarcastic cheer

    Congratulations to Virgin America, it must have been really hard to get an arbitrary A grade in a small piece of software that makes it's own (albeit normally correct), decisions on performance.

    However whilst it's nice to see a mention about YSlow, perhaps Gavin Clarke might have wished to ask Ravi Simhambhatla about the > 200 validation errors ( ), in the front page source code and the accessibility problems that will come from the sites construction; or was this supposed to be as it read as a pure sycophantic PR piece and hope that no one looks to see the poor construction?

  7. frank denton


    I had a look at the Page Source and the first thing I noticed was lots of white space at the top and inside javascript declarations. Perhaps I misunderstood their aims.

    The comments at the top seem to be made in a hurry by someone who knows what they mean but I'm not sure that anyone else will. I believe it also contains a spelling mistake (existed = exited ?) and has poor (no) punctuation and grammar (have = has ?).

    It doesn't matter what fancy development tools you use if you then let a pure techie loose to make tweaks to the final product and then don't have independent checks on the tweaks.

  8. DaveT
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    Not impressed in the slightest

    Table based layout, javascript controlling rollover states, use of deprecated HTML attributes (TD width and height?) and total validation failure. Great work on reducing loading times might have been done, but I'd question the quality of their front -end developers.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    This must be the most blatant piece of (unmarked) advertising ever. What's up, El Reg? Can my company please have an article as well about how we have a website and we're like totally amazing?

  10. Steve
    Thumb Down


    They want it to be fast with a good user perception, and they still put flash on the front page? Cretins.

  11. Chris Cheale

    What a crock...


    They're all XML this and AJAX that, and dynamic pages with dozens of database queries each.


    There is a time and a place for AJaX - the CMS, it's nice not having the page reload when you toggle the visibility on a product that's being displayed in the nested menu structure (i.e. in the same place it actually appears on the customer facing site).

    Back on topic...

    First glance at - no DTD declaration, 11 included js script files (how many were there before?!), 7 iframes - a quick check with Tidy throws up 13 errors, 181 warnings (although they cascade); many unencoded ampersands and unescaped forward slashes (in the embedded js innerHTML) - even the </html> tag is missing! Cobbled together in MM Dreamweaver by a bunch of chimps that call themselves "Web Developers" no doubt... the page still took an eternity to load.

    If fact this page fails just about every quick check I can think of, W3C, WAI, CSS (there's no such a property as "font-color" it's just "color" - 52 errors and 444 warnings in the stylesheet) and the JavaScript is full of minor errors.

    Just out of curiousity I loaded the page in Opera (with js, plug-ins and cookies disabled)... it died horribly; I'm not surprised.

    If they really want to "optimise" their website they should consider firing everyone who's currently involved in it and start again. I get the suspicion that this article was posted on el Reg in a journalistic equivalent of "Duck Hunt" - they knew people would look at the source code of the virginamerica site; they knew the it would draw more flak than a day-flight of B17's over Dresden in 1944.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    speed vs usability

    lost count of the number of clients that insist that i throw all useability and accessability out of the window, so that a secondary navigation can retain the same font as the bloody designers have chosen

    then for 6 months down the line find that i have spend half the day searching for the damn font, becasue the designer could only do a save as in photoshop, not an export, or they did it on there old laptop meh!!!

    i just wish that it was sold end explained to people that having a useable, and standards complient is the easiest way to speed up how a site loads and works, yes enabling GZip, and having a solid chaching mechanism does wonders, but so does having having v clean javascript. i personally avoid all js frameworks like the plague, the over heads they can entail and file sizes are just not worth it, especially if by writing it yourself, you can reduce several thousand lines of framework code, to a hundred often less, and have a handfull of functions to call rather than hundreds. simple clean clear code, with a file size in bytes not kb's

    as far as AJAX goes its the new flash, excellent when used in the right places for the right reasons, but idiocy to build an entire site out of it

  13. Mark Cathcart


    Well speed maybe, but thats worth nothing if you give up because the function is broken. I tried booking a flight from NYC to SF, it ended up going via LAX(OK maybe) when I tried to proceed past the select flights menu, I was presented with Select seats.

    At select seats I was "lucky" enough to get an exit row, only to be told that exit rows cost $15 extra, a pop-up opened that started "Congrats. You just got one of the most coveted spots on the plane. But because you are now in the exit row, your seat comes with extra responsibility" it had two choices yes and no... for $15 you could select yes and continue... but no wasn't active under Firefox and given the original flights were not that cheap, they went via LAX, and there "super-fast(ahem)" website was forcing me to pay $15 for a single exit row seat, I bailed and canceled.

    Performance=1 Sale=0

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