[webkit-dev] optimizing browser handling of Facebook Timeline scrolling

David Levin levin at google.com
Mon Feb 13 16:59:23 PST 2012

Not sure what tools you have used but you may find this helpful:

On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 10:02 PM, Steven Young <styoung.bills at gmail.com>wrote:

> [cross posting from mozilla's dev lists]
> I'm on the Timeline team at Facebook, which is going to be the new
> format for everyone's profiles real soon now.
> https://www.facebook.com/about/timeline We'd like to improve its
> browser performance, so I'd appreciate any suggestions for things we
> should change to speed it up. In particular, we'd like to make
> scrolling down through new content smoother. There are often brief
> (e.g. 300 ms) browser lockups, and other times there just seems to be
> a general feeling of heaviness.
> I'm going to list some of the specific issues we've identified, which
> we are debating how best to fix, but I'm also very interested to hear
> whatever anyone else thinks are the biggest perf bottlenecks.
> A few problems:
> (1) HTML / DOM size and CSS
> Our HTML is huge. About half of it is coming from the light blue
> "like/comment" widgets at the bottom of most stories. Within those
> widgets, a major portion of it is always the same. (Some of that is
> only needed once the user clicks into the widget, but we don't want
> another server round trip to fetch it.)  We also have a lot of CSS
> rules, and applying all that CSS to all those DOM nodes gets
> expensive. Experimentally, removing all like/comment widgets from the
> page does give noticeably smoother scrolling, although it doesn't
> completely fix the problem.
> Related: We've also noticed that if you scroll very far down a
> content-rich timeline, and then open and close the inline photo
> viewer, this causes a noticeable lag, as it re-renders all existing
> content on the page. To fix this, we investigated dynamically removing
> offscreen content from the DOM and replacing  it with empty divs of
> the same height, but we decided it wasn't worth the code complexity
> and fragility.
> (2) Repaints
> There are several fixed elements on the page like the blue bar at the
> top, the side bar, and our date navigator with the months/years.
> Chrome's --show-paint-rects flag showed that under most circumstances
> these fixed-position elements forced full-screen repaints instead of
> incremental repaints. The rules for what triggers a repaint vary from
> browser to browser, but we would ideally like to fix this everywhere.
> The cost of full page repaints also sometimes varies dramatically even
> comparing Chrome on two fairly newish Mac laptops.
> (3) Javascript for loading content as you scroll down
> We dynamically load timeline sections (e.g. a set of stories from
> 2009) using our BigPipe system
> (https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=389414033919) in an iframe.
> In a nutshell, the HTTP response to the iframe is sent with chunked
> encoding, a <script> tag at a time. Each script tag contains some code
> and and HTML content that is passed up to the parent window, which
> requests the CSS and JS associated with that HTML content. Once the
> CSS is downloaded, the HTML (timeline story markup) is inserted into
> an offscreen DOM element. Then, once the JS is loaded, we do some
> fairly complicated work before we actually display the content.
> First, we lay out the timeline stories in an offscreen element
> (position:absolute; left:-9999px) before inserting them into the
> viewable page. We then have JS which checks the heights of all the
> stories on in the offscreen element so it can swap stories back and
> forth between the two columns, to keep things sorted by time going
> down the page. To do this,  we query and cache the stories' offsetTop
> values all at once where possible. Probably, we could eliminate all
> this height-checking and column balancing if we implemented a machine
> learning algorithm to predict the height of each unit in advance, on
> the server side.
> Next, in an attempt to reduce user-percieved browser freezing while
> scrolling, our JS does not add new content in to the bottom of the
> main column as soon as it comes back from the server. Instead, we
> queue it up until the user stops scrolling and add it in then. We use
> document fragments where possible to insert elements. Web Inspector's
> profiler showed improvements when dynamically inserting many <link
> rel=stylesheet> tags in this fashion since we stopped thrashing
> between "style recomputation" and JS execution for each stylesheet,
> and instead just had one longer style recomputation segment.
> We throttle scroll/resize events so they fire every 150 ms
> All the while this is happening, we're potentially receiving more
> <script> tags in the iframe and doing the same thing for other pieces
> of content.
> We would love any pointers you guys have.
> Thanks,
> Steve
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> webkit-dev at lists.webkit.org
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