EP304 – Let’s talk about AMP

January 11, 2019

On this episode of WPwatercooler, the panel dives into a comprehensive discussion about the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework. The conversation begins with historical references to web performance and evolves to highlight the critical role speed plays in enhancing user experience. Panelists reflect on the evolution of AMP, contrasting it with past web practices, and emphasize its implications for the realm of web publishing. The episode underscores the diverse opinions on AMP, weighing its benefits against potential drawbacks, and positions it within the broader context of contemporary web development and design practices.

00:00 Introduction and Acknowledgment of Sponsors
00:32 Panel Introductions
01:21 Overview of Upcoming WordPress Meetups
02:16 Discussion on WordPress Meetup Groups
03:23 Introduction of Jason Tucker and Mention of Other Shows
04:09 Introduction to Plugin Palooza
05:40 Deep Dive into AMP: Benefits and Concerns
07:05 AMP Link Sharing and Its Implications
08:09 Importance of URL Display in Modern Browsers
08:47 AMP’s Three Core Concepts: Components, Scripts, and Caching
10:09 AMP’s Flexibility and Ownership vs. Other Platforms
11:10 Updates and Features of the AMP Plugin for WordPress
12:25 Reflecting on the Evolution of AMP
14:25 Challenges and Innovations in Mobile Web Development
16:26 AMP’s Impact on Design and User Experience
18:17 Importance of Speed and Performance in Web Publishing
20:32 The History and Legacy of Web Development Practices
22:55 Google’s Influence on Web Practices and Standards
24:16 The Return of ‘Turbo Mode’ in WordPress and Its Relevance
27:20 Closing Thoughts and Acknowledgment

Join us around the WPwatercooler!

00:00:00 Intro
00:03:15 WordCamp Orange County 2019 is officially launched! Mark your calendars for April 27th & 28th, 2019
00:07:11 Accelerated Mobile Pages Project – AMP
00:10:59 Real URLs for AMP Cached Content Using Cloudflare Workers
00:11:14 AMP + WordPress product site AMP for WordPress – Official AMP Plugin for WordPress
00:16:56 Malte, Tech Lead, taking about lessons learned and touching on the origin Standardizing lessons learned from AMP – AMP
00:19:35 WPtouch | WordPress.org
00:19:55 EP303 – WPwatercooler
00:30:14 WordPress Gears — The WordPress.com Blog


Episode Transcription

(00:00) Jason Tucker and this is W watercooler episode number 304 so that’s four episodes without you official toggle says well I want to say thank you very much for all you folks for coming on the show and hang out with us today I really appreciate it I also want to say thank you very much for our sponsor which is desktop server makers our server press makers I’ve stopped server they’re awesome folks for helping us out with this particular episode I want to say thank you very much to them let’s go around the room
(00:32) real quick get everyone introduced Jonathan tell us about Rick tell us a little bit about yourself well the mouth thing is not working I love WordPress and I love North Idaho nice or in that order Steve how about you tell us a bit about yourself I am Steve Zynga time the founder of Zeke Interactive and I run the OC WordPress meetup prosper hey everybody I am Jason Casper a ka post formats Malone what I do how about you hey everyone I’m Leo I’m one of the co-organizers the one beats WordPress meetup group and we’re
(01:21) prepping for work camp George County 2019 which is coming up in just a few weeks what Steve is a twelve thirteen weeks nice all right sounds good George how about you uh hi I’m Joseph honest I work at automatic building random shiny things on the jetpack catalyst team where we do all sorts of partnerships and building integrations and shiny things new team yes well new to me I just rotated over there now here at catalyst my favorite now we’re in the dog Alice team and now Steve is with the OSI WordPress
(02:16) meetup we just needed to get like an OG WordPress meetup now well say could start the LBCC WordPress meetup big I just want to call this say read and still never been to the Long Beach WordPress meetup group when I will continue to put her on blast until she shows up at me there’s one on January 15th the gun and Jerkins thing it’s like I knew that this is North Long Beach let’s be real about whether or not that long just kidding South Lake winter North Long Beach right I just wanted to say I know we’re not talking about
(03:23) Guttenberg but my first workshop I’m Jason Tucker you can find me over on Twitter at Jason Tucker my website is Jason Tucker top blog I do this show I do another show called W blab before you go take a look at that that happens on Thursdays last Thursday or today we didn’t do it yesterday but we’ll definitely doing it next week so feel free to go take a look at that very very quick announcement yeah yummy is April 27th and 28th and 29th annual plug-in Palooza mine is today what what is plug-in Palooza oh
(04:09) I’m glad you plugin Plaza is a contest essentially where a bunch of people get together and create a plug-in now and work camp and submit it to the plugin repository and and then it gets judged on the spots at at wordcamp one of our judges is on with us today Jason Kasper a returning judge he will be a judge and the first prize for this contest is $3,000 oh that would uh 3,000 for first prize 1,500 for second prize and like the most you’re getting edition in addition the top to the top to get a security Enterprise license from a get
(04:58) or a sponsor lifetime I think it I think I think there’s a lifetime license or as long as you live I don’t know how they judge I don’t know how they determine the lifetime but the wife you’d like if you’d like more information on plug-in Appaloosa you can go to the word Camp Orange County site which is awesome thanks for that Steve I appreciate that so let’s talk a little bit about Amp do we have to yeah we have to do use let’s get here but it’s not just mobile pages right let’s amplify this
(05:40) discussion so I noticed and I have some issues with amp and so you know last last last episode just uh just after the episode ended so no one was there except for Jonathan and I we were talking a little bit about amp and how like how much amp can it pisses me off when it comes to like the the standard way that amp is set up so it’s usually at google.
(06:06) com slash amp slash your domain name and I’m like whoa this isn’t even my own stuff like this is somebody else’s stuff I mean it’s Google and everything’s probably going through Google anyhow but just the fact that that domain name isn’t my domain name it’s it’s somebody else’s domain name and I do know that there’s other ways of doing this where you can kind of have it go through your own domain and then do some things on your own end but for most of the publication’s I’m looking at I just see that you end up going to an amp
(06:32) site that’s generated by Google and and I’m now trying to share a very nice clean little link and I have to essentially deconstruct a URL to be able to share that link out to Facebook Twitter or what-have-you it maybe I’m the understand is crying correctly but couldn’t you just share the amp link for your site what it would have been forward over to the Google link is am I missing something here let’s say that I’m gonna put it in an email and it’s gonna be just a text-based email okay so
(07:05) no no fancy HTML no fancy nothing just a link and it’s going into being this long instead of this long I would like to point out that if you’re only sending text-based email emails with no fancy anything a link is not the biggest part of your marketing strategy what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to I’m trying to show this like that it doesn’t matter that a whole bunch of like you know Oh any like Open Graph stuffs happening or any of those sorts things I just want to say that I’m sharing a link I think we
(07:39) probably should actually stop and pause and describe what app is literally flood to do that we talking about yep which is why I brought that up because for most people they’re just looking at going like what the heck’s this big old crazy URL and am I being hosted through Google right now and I’m trying to represent that every person and I would also just I agree we need to go into this but I would also like to point out that the average person not really looking at links and just clicking and then also
(08:09) the browsers these days barely show the full link now anyway so the browsers these days I swear we’ll take it away so at a really really basic level and has three things right first you have lockdown components that also have a lot of flexibility second is you have these high performance scripts that are written to sort of allow for dynamic components to load things dynamically the third thing is you have this idea of cash and cash to serve things at edge for the various components of this stuff to be served at a remote origin so when
(08:47) you’re looking at a link from Google let’s Irving from am you’re actually getting it on a Google server so you’re getting it even faster than you would be getting even on a high high-powered server suite however however he gets even crazier than that there are there are additional people that go beyond Google that have been good quite a bit of work with em so amperes an open-source project it’s not just Google they’ve actually shifted their model a few weeks ago a few months ago now at
(09:08) this point to a fully open governance project so it’s no longer just Google it’s also big like being and CloudFlare and a ton of other people so there are all sorts of people who are using the power of this technology as a sort of like packaging sort of way to be able to deliver content at edge so for example you could be using CloudFlare and get a fast amp experience has nothing to do with Google whatsoever just not designed websites anymore and should we just like do like an amp site like can I just
(09:37) throw my content and amp and be like okay so it works anything with you know I think I think that depends on your business goals right and it depends on where your audience is and where they’re where they’re reading your content or viewing your content it comes down to what’s your intention because on the web we can do anything right like in theory you know what but like most of these things we can do so it’s like what are you trying to do if you’re just trying to maintain a fully independent indie
(10:09) web fully independent thing there are ways to do that well the thing that’s a big advantage of amp versus say like Google sorry Facebook instant articles or Apple news is that you are allowed to store your content wherever you can have all that control and it isn’t necessarily living on remote services that is controlled by Google or anyone else for that matter you actually a lot more flexibility lum or ownership a lot more tailored ability today will make this stuff work so for what you’re describing from an indie web perspective
(10:37) like amp is more in that vein but it’s it’s a pretty powerful way to produce a pre-painted fast mobile experience but also it works really well in desktop so I should probably like let you guys know that for what good seven or eight months I was the product owner for the and for WordPress plugin and Jonathan just dropped a note into our chat amp – WP or you can read about all of us that’s quite a big deal but for us the amp plugin for WordPress is a big deal there’s a lot of there’s a lot of stuff
(11:10) that we’ve spent to make it as easy as possible to make camp sites because traditionally it took a lot of effort to be able to make this stuff happen automatically you have to actually create your own custom templates and now we have a we’ve written a bunch of stuff with WordPress that makes it so that these templates can be generated automatically and officially give you the tools to be able to check for errors and to check for different ways to make your site and Freddy by default there’s two things I want to convey from like I
(11:36) from a big-picture perspective about am when I first started looking at an but because we’ve all it’s been around for a couple of years now it’s like pushing three plus years over come on correctly and I remember reading a lot of pieces at the time a lot of different different thoughts of perspective and most of it was pretty negative and I remember starting to look into it about a year ago and there’s just something like that I’m just naturally curious about these things so if something is so polarizing
(12:02) like what’s what’s going on behind the scenes like what’s what’s the kind of the bigger story here and that can take you kind of down rabbit hole pretty quickly but I realize it’s very a lot of people were just echoing what they’d heard someone else say that’s which is a very common thing like this is what we do is human it’s not a big deal it’s just but it happens it’s like oh I someone said something negative about this and so bad and it’s someone I trust so I sort of
(12:25) echo that opinion one of the things that really struck me about the project and this is we’ve run into this with WordPress too is the challenge of doing things in the open and because it came out of Google it naturally was gonna get a whole lot more scrutiny than other things but the reality is like what amp started with wasn’t anywhere near like the vision that the folks who started working on it had in mind it’s like well we’re gonna start with something we’re gonna put it out in the open but many
(12:49) people form their opinions about what they saw three years ago so I think that that to me was an important piece of the narrative for myself is like oh wow this is like a this is literally a moving target like it’s are we talking about amp or Gutenberg right now the ampere wordpress plugin actually does have custom Gutenberg blogs you know well but this is this is a good thing when we talk about open court why does follow up or ask about a point you made you know you’re like the folks who are originally making it let’s you
(13:23) know obviously you guys have been involved in this for a long time can you elaborate on that a little bit like before it was Google side or went through that you know kind of web echos of work then you know what what was the intention because originally when I first learned about amp it was about you know delivering content quickly for you know I would even say like edge cases like remote access stuff like when people are out you know not having good internet etc etc like that is my fundamental understanding of what it’s
(13:57) coin is can you speak to that sure go ahead leo yeah doing talk about the origin like a Malta and the project yeah I could talk about a couple four ways so from from a high level probably the problem with the mobile development is a problem with loading content has a remote asset resource is you end up calling all this different stuff and you end up repainting the page several times so I’m sure you’ve been on a mobile experience where like the font loads after the entire page is loaded or like an image loads and all the stuff that’s
(14:25) jumbled around or worse like you get multiple style sheets and the colors start to change you’ve all the stuff that just feels awful so one of the things that amp does and it’s sort of its HTML requirements is it says hey no more of that let’s find a way to do a lot of the the secret performance hacks that people have been trying to do for a long time or have been doing for a long time and actually make the requirement for everyone so for example CSS has to be less than 50 kilobytes it has to be
(14:49) in line of the document so that in one round-trip request where you get the entire webpage you also get all the CSS styles in required you also have to draw the boxes as you’re sort of building on this page so instead of having these page refreshes you actually have the ability to get the fastest mobile experience out of the box and so from a user experience standpoint like it actually does make it a lot you know a lot more interesting a lot more useful in terms of its origin wait sorry can I pause you on that because you before you
(15:16) go into the origin thing I would actually disagree that it in terms it that it across the board makes it a better user experience because just like with your business goals that depends on what your what you’re trying to out of the web right so if you’re just reading articles and you just want that text and yes it is absolutely the better experience if you’re trying to have a design rich or a you know more well I guess just design heavy or that side of you know conceptual site it’s not as relying on text then maybe it’s not a
(15:48) better experience well III think that one of the problems that we’ve seen over the last 30 years of web development right like I can imagine this is something that Stephen probably talked about quite a bit and when you used to have to slash websites on archive.org no no the very seriously like it’s really hard to draw stuff on the web right I my my background before diving deep technology was very much in design and it’s hard to paint good pictures so the vast majority people who are trying to make pretty things and resorting to
(16:26) hacks and visual builders and you end up with these really complicated ways to do stuff my my feeling is that if we had more time more money more resources we’d have the ability to make this stuff all you know clean in one given layout right so as we think about CSS like we should really be asking this question like is there a way to do it better is there a way to do it faster is there a way for us to have more time and be able to unpack this stuff that like amp makes a couple requirements of the people who
(16:54) are putting together websites to produce a higher level experience so I could see saying your your example like if you don’t have the resources maybe amp isn’t a thing that’s easily achievable but through things like the am plugin that help do things like CSS tree shaking so that’s it that 50 kilobit limit may be really hard to meet but there’s actually a bit of cool computer science work that the team was actually put together and it finds all the on you CSS and eliminates it from that given piece and
(17:19) it makes it so that you only have the required CSS loading as part of that web page so see it’s a little weird because as someone who has performance as part of his his actual job title senior performance engineer I can’t stand amp it reminds me of remember those plugins that everybody ran to give you a mobile view of their site yeah just just a few years ago yeah we’re talking to you go ahead and probably um maybe possibly I’m sure that the but anyway those those plugins I have as somebody who despite being
(18:17) performance oriented who cares a lot about design I have a sort of adverse reaction to seeing something that standardizes here’s what an article looks like no matter and and of course you can use some custom you know we’re good you know and and change things a little bit but it all just looks the same it’s also GD boring this is a really good example this is actually a really good example because I would entirely agree with you Jason but based on like how am was seen in the wild like over a year ago right right because like
(18:56) and this is one of the gets a totally fair thing it’s like alright you had the amp plugin for WordPress and like all the sites gonna look the same good that shade of blue and like these and and yeah and we’re and we have that has not been solved but when you think about what amp is at its core that end up being the first expression nothing to do with it’s where we think this is gonna go but that’s what we’ve barely form opinions based on it’s like the popular deployments of it even if it could be
(19:22) more so accent oh absolutely I was I was kind of kind of gonna mirror what Jason said and address Leo’s old guy comment at the same time sorry no it’s alright what’s what’s funny about this business and publishing in general is what’s old is new again always everything in this business is cyclical right so we used to have to I mean when I first started this business I used to have to fit everything on floppy disk right or if it was an AOL download it had to be under a Meg and a Meg was pushing pushing the limits of AOL and we
(19:58) were working in director at the time and it took of the Meg 850 cave that was the player itself so you had 150 K which to work in with which to work in for your content that included your graphics your music any sound effects anything and so I learned at that time how to how to really think about file size right and so that gave me an advantage early on the web when bandwidth wasn’t an issue but for for I think over time web developers had become somewhat lazy because ban was not really an issue anymore except now we have to build for
(20:32) mobile we’re bandwidth is kind of an issue right and the experience is completely different from desktop and now mobile is well over 50% of of our users so what’s old is new again and so I think my point here is whether you’re a developer or a Content publisher or anything or and whether using amp or not all of this stuff is important to your end user experience right so whether using amp or not speeds file size and speed is very important and your Google Analytics will immediately reflect that I had a
(21:06) conversation with a client yesterday because we we launched a new site he was concerned because the bounce rate was going up right and I looked at one of his pages and very simply he someone of his editors had just posted a whole bunch of very large photos right and and the theme that they were using which we inherited used the original size photos rather than a smaller size of the photo which is one of the first things we would have put in place right it was it’s a very simple fix right but those are those are things that that people
(21:35) who don’t want to show or aren’t experience of WordPress don’t really think about and that does that all sort of plays into this you know I was able to meet up the other day a couple months ago where were having people like show and tell on their sites and I saw that several times where it’s like good and because the Wi-Fi was a little bit slower than there and that that’s one of the most common things I see is that people load their images ultimate it’s like man the WordPress and the tools we
(21:58) use should solve for things like that without like having to install separate and they do if you’re following best practices one might argue best practices should be baked in but you know and Jason I think the biggest difference between the wptouch and like you know the N dot or the almost whap era of WordPress that we see now is that like well a we have open framework so that all the stuff is based on B we know that we have clear proven user experience benefits and see a lot of this stuff is actually automated
(22:30) converting real html5 stuff to really HTML stuff and there are clear metrics to it there are tons of tools it’s really developer friendly and we’ve spent a lot more time than just you know creating these paid services or people show up to conferences saying give this 1495 for our plugin and suddenly you have a fast mobile site like no like we’ve actually thought a lot about free stuff that is entirely based on open source you know pieces and I think at the end of the day it’s one of those things where if you really want to see
(22:55) SEO benefits performance benefits UX benefits there is a clear path there I actually saw something this morning on search engine land about how Google is talking about how they improve their internal SEO and it’s there two things it’s through pwace which are super interesting that we should talk about at some point the future and amp and those two things are usually how many ways is progressive web application just for our audience gone and I actually quite funny see that you talked about how the old
(23:20) things are new again and how the new things are old like this is literally the classic problem where I remember when I was in college that at 10k a part was the big thing 10k apart were they making games that all have to fit and you know 10 kilobits man where you know on a floppy disk you could put 140 you know kilobits hundred games all in one lobby disk it’s quite a fun time at the same time I think it’s actually quite critical first understands but as the web gets faster as 5g becomes a real thing as as gigabit internet becomes
(23:47) even more proliferated if we can still make things smaller and more performant it makes everyone’s experiences better it makes things like web packaging all the benefits by packaging it significantly easier it makes it so that you can download not just one page but an entire website and the single requests like these are the things that the future will bring us but it all starts with some of the things now and and of course to fit in with the whole you know WordPress mission statement of democratizing publishing the the fact of
(24:16) the matter is yeah 5g is coming we have fiber but there is so many persons of developing worlds who need this thin HTML as much as I personally don’t care for how it looks or anything else I do think it’s a good thing and actually I was surprised to hear I haven’t been following him super closely I was surprised and pleased to hear that they’ve moved to an open governance thing because that was one of the biggest things that bug me about Amp was the fact that basically we are letting Google be the gatekeeper for
(24:50) so much of our Internet now that Internet Explorer is moving their rendering engine or whatever they’re gonna edge is is moving to to chromium as as that and and how much of our web is controlled by Google I can’t sorry Jason [ __ ] stand it and it drives not the first def word on the show by the way no no I know I know but I’m still just trying to make sure that we keep the the clean tag for Tucker you know you’re saying I think that to the point of our you know WordPress is mission you know we talk a lot about democratizing
(25:31) publishing but that’s not just democratizing the people to be able to express themselves and publish publish stuff it is also about the other side for people to be able to read that stuff Publishing and a vacuum does that matter so to your point of and to the point of amp is that it should be something that this this does help access this does provide information communication and maybe you know the heavy graphics and all of that stuff isn’t as important and also within that I also want to make a point that you know we’ve whether it was
(26:07) back in the day with the things Steve was talking about or the 10k software that you were talking about limits tend to breed innovation like Twitter which is 140 character and whatnot so as we are trying to be more concise in our code or in our content to get that information across to people that helps us be more effective but here’s the thing about amp though amp actually isn’t a limiting experience there’s certain parts of front-end development that people just don’t do very well a lot of those things are standardized and
(26:38) there’s also things like custom properties it actually makes so that you can do quite a bit more their dynamic property dynamic components that make it submit that static contacted load quickly but dynamic things to load you know asynchronously in the background after the initial paint has been been drawn there’s a lot more that amp can do than just loading fast mobile pages and that’s the thing that like I don’t know Jason I would love to like talk with you about this at some point further like
(27:01) this is a really exciting framework and it isn’t just you know a plugin that makes some extra stuff in the back and you know so there’s some of the links there like it look at some of there’s not a whole like we’re still early in this process but what you’re gonna see a lot more of is sites that you don’t notice or writing hamp like you wouldn’t even think about except like wow this load is really fast right like you look at the amp product site there’s some example resources and
(27:22) example sites that like it’s just a regular looking site it just happens to load really fast I’m actually delighted with how much all this ecosystem is growing out of just wanting a more open alternative to Facebook instant articles which thankfully now seems to have I miss something or is that mostly like dead and gone at this point it was it was the turd in the punchbowl all the publisher is like revolted so there’s that I mean I think a lot of this is just an extension of a much earlier Google project from like eight years ago
(28:03) if anyone else remembers Google gears for a while you know there’s no loading all your static assets in advance before you actually need them hey George rpw a plug-in brought back turbo mode with because of course Google gears of course you did years ago eight years ago WordPress had something called turbo mode you can look it up it’s a real thing and servo mode it used Google gears which basically was a project concept that let the browser pre download all the sorted image assets and whatnot that the
(28:47) site uses based off of manifests so they’re already in the browser’s cache before you ever get to a page that uses them to speed things up yeah kind of copy of our website well and Google in particular a triple mode was focused on the admin so like at one point it’s still true today but like WordPress has all these scripts that read the background so it got all those stuff randomly that you would need to be able to do stuff in the dashboard and prepared it all but one of the minor features that we built over last year
(29:20) was turbo mode again because why not well I want to say thank you all for being on the show today I really appreciate it this diss just reminds me of like AOL it’s like you almost like you wanted like key word WP water close [Laughter] thank you for my panelists here for coming hanging out with us really appreciate it I want to on us think desktop server and server price for helping us out with this particular episode I really appreciate that and if you like this content hit share share it with somebody and be able to you know
(29:58) get some folks to really start talking about amp and how you should be using the amp on your website what if you don’t like it there’s a thumbs down button you can definitely press thumbs down button we get the viewers we can find out we’d an expression alright folks talk to you later buh-bye

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