Friday, December 4, 2009

A Few Worthy Bytes

Bandwidth is a lot cheaper now than it was 10 years ago. Dialup is a dying breed. So please, please, please don't craft your HTML to save every last byte. It is a lot more worthwhile to make your code readable and immediately intuitive than to prevent an extra 10 bytes from going to the user. If you find that you are causing huge downloads of extra HTML, and it is becoming an issue based on real statistics... then start looking into addressing the issue.

For example, consider the following snippet:

<a href="/path/elsewhere"><%
if @condition
%>True text<%
%>False text<%

It may not look that bad alone, but when you try to save every byte, the result months from now will be a garbled mess that is difficult to comprehend. Instead, ignore those extra bytes and produce the following:

<a href="/path/elsewhere">
<% if @condition %>
True text
<% else %>
False text
<% end %>

If outputting all that extra useless whitespace makes you feel too icky, Rails has an option for you. If you close your scriptlet tag with a dash, as "-%>", Rails will strip some of the whitespace.

<a href="/path/elsewhere">
<% if @condition -%>
True text
<% else -%>
False text
<% end -%>

Just remember that someone has to maintain the code, and making code more difficult to comprehend will end up costing you more than the bandwidth you saved.

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