It’s been a while since my last blog post, but that’s not without good reason…I promise! Over the last few months, our engineering team has been working hard on the most significant performance improvement the Userplane SDK since its release. So, how did we get there? In a word: Flash. In a few words: it’s not there anymore.
Ever since we began overhauling Userplane by building the SDK, we’ve done so with an eye on the future and all the technological opportunities in front of us. Traditionally, Userplane and all of our competitors have used a Flash interface to render the chat experiences, making them heavy and not very flexible. With the removal of Flash from our 1.2.0 build, there are two areas where Userplane now runs circles around the competition: (1) file size, and (2) speed. First, let’s compare file size amongst competitors:
123FlashChat: 886 KB
AVChat: 330 KB
Flashcoms: 774 KB
Mango Chat: 529 KB
Userplane: ~120 KB
Every byte on your site impacts how your users perceive it. Google loads rocket-fast in pretty much any environment because its homepage is only 17 KB. So of course, a huge concern in adding a 3rd party feature to the site is how it will impact usability of the site as a whole. We already deferred the SDK loading until after the site had rendered with this in mind. But now, we’re also 2, 3, 4 or even more times lighter than most of our competition.
Page load of course impacts perception on your site. How long a feature takes to load once engaged also has a substantial impact on perception, so let’s take a look at how long experiences take to load amongst some of our competition:
123FlashChat: ~5 seconds
Flashcoms: ~6 seconds
Userplane: ~1 second
Now, consider that we’re testing in LA, with some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country (see this ‘Speed By State’ map), and you begin to understand why considerations like file size and launch time really do matter. Think of how often people are accessing the internet via their mobile browsers using 3G, 4G, Edge, etc. If your device is even capable of loading Flash, then see how long the load time becomes for our competition (hint: 5 seconds of loading time on broadband could mean up to 30 seconds on Edge)! And, according to this report, our competition neglects 28.7% of the US smartphone market by relying on Flash–the percentage represented by iOS users.
Like I said, the concept of the SDK was conceived–and continues to be built–with an eye focused on the future. Our removal of Flash, and the doors that opens up for iOS compatibility, is proof of that early foresight. As we continue to move forward, we have lots more in store, and a goal of reducing the files size of the SDK to below 100 KB. There will be more exciting milestones coming from us, so be sure to stay tuned. But today marks another exciting step, and we hope you think so, too!
If you’d like to view the complete release notes from our 1.2.0 build, please click here.