Today’s topic is penguins, how they feed their young and how to apply that to Web development. Now watch my improbable feat of connecting these two topics. Come for the penguins, stay for the Web UI!
I am a father and as all parents know, part of the job description when your kids reach certain age includes suffering through many an animated movie (I am looking at you, Hoodwinked!). On one occasion though, I actually enjoyed the movie, and it happened to be Happy Feet. Those of you who watched it know that young Mumble is fed by his father Memphis eating a big fish, then regurgitating the half-digested food into Mumble’s beak, like so:
This is not from the movie but I don’t want to wrestle with Warner Bros over the copyright for the images.
I think you are starting to see the improbable analogy here: the unprocessed, big data service is like feeding the little Mumbo raw fish – too much for its little beak. Let me count the ways why that is suboptimal:
- Big services normally serve verbose XML with tons of namespace information. If you are lucky and the service supports gzip, it may not be a big problem (XML is insanely compressible), but if it does not, a lot of the bytes are sent down the wire unnecessarily.
- The data may not be fully digestible (see what I did here) – you may need to derive some of it from what you have received, or make more than one XHR request and sort out the joins in-browser.
- Very often you get way more than you need, which is wasteful because you waited and wasted the bandwidth and traversed a big DOM only to throw it away.
For this realization alone, I would say I got my money’s worth. The only thing I learned from Hoodwinked! is not to give coffee to a squirrel. I knew that already.
© Dejan Glozic, 2013
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