Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

The page rendering race

June 18, 2008

It is a race that has an end at 0.00.  Well, not really.  But you’d have to think that the speed at which a browser can render a certain amount of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS (the bits that make up every Web page on the Internet) has to have a floor.  Meaning, at some point a browser’s ability to render a page simply will not be able to get any faster.

But we haven’t seen that floor yet.

Downloading Firefox 3 today I have experienced, what I feel, is the quickest page rendering experience I’ve had on the Macintosh since, well, downloading the latest version of Safari.  Before that I thought Camino was the quickest at rendering a page on my Mac.  Just prior to that, it was Safari.  And, according to Ariya Hidayat tests, it seems like when the next version of Safari is released to the public it will again hold the top spot in this rendering speed war that is being waged.

Granted the tests Ariya ran on a recent nightly build of Webkit, the rendering engine beneath the Safari browser, are dedicated to Webkit’s ability to parse through JavaScript only (leaving out the all important HTML and CSS rendering speed capabilities) – but one can assume that Safari will feel much snappier when the next update is release.

So, the beat goes on and on and on.  Rendering speeds in these browsers are going to continue to get better until they reach some sort of limit. I suppose the limit could be considered “virtually instantaneous” but I wonder how long it will be until we see that.

When does it end?