Despite a dreary morning sky, the boxed coffee and bustling energy kept all the volunteers in warm spirits. The outdoor Propelify conference on Hoboken’s waterfront had been set up like a farmer’s market—booth after booth showcasing cool tech ideas and enthusiastic young startups.
Audible’s tent was fashioned into a swanky living room, with couches and a huge fuzzy carpet, a perfect invitation for attendees to come listen to five software developers from Audible’s Consumer Domains, the full-stack engineering teams behind Audible’s website.
Jane started the event with a talk about Chrome Developer Tools. After a short overview of Chrome’s more familiar features, she shifted focus to lesser-known features used for diagnosing and improving website performance, like the Audits tab from Google’s Lighthouse tool. Using mobile.audible.com as an example, she went over different types of audits like Performance, Progressive Web App, Accessibility, Best Practices, and SEO. She highlighted the bonus performance auditing features of Google Canary, the forward-looking beta build of Chrome, and the Network tab as direct ways to investigate performance issues. To highlight SEO, she showed changing the browser’s user agent in the Network Conditions tool to Googlebot to see how it would view a webpage when determining search engine rankings. Finally, she ended her talk with the Security tab to tie into the next talk.
Second, was an enlightening talk on Web App Security by Garima. The talk highlighted the importance of serving sites over https for several trust and security reasons. There was emphasis on https becoming a requirement for leveraging http/2 and future PWA (Progressive Web App) technologies. The talk demonstrated two security vulnerabilities on sites today—XSS and Clickjacking. This was followed by leveraging http security headers to tighten up the security of web apps, typically just by adding a few lines of code. Garima called out several other security headers used by Audible today and encouraged the audience to research and use them.
Next, Nancy gave her talk on http/2. She started with a brief history of how the protocol came to be, starting with a screencap of one of the oldest web pages in existence to illustrate how far the Web has come since its inception. She went over two of the major features of http/2, where http request and response objects are refashioned as streams of tiny frames—multiplexed and compressed. Making sure to note that http/2 could only be supported on websites that assuredly serve their content over secure https, Nancy concluded her spiel with the wide availability of implementations of the protocol on both client and server side and encouraged the audience to adopt it.
Alex followed with a speech about a resource hint called Preconnect. The preconnect link relation type is used to indicate an origin that will be used to fetch required resources. Initiating an early connection, which includes the DNS lookup, TCP handshake, and optional TLS negotiation, allows the user agent to mask the high latency costs of establishing a connection. Alex provided examples of pages with and without preconnect and compared their loading time, demonstrating that usage of preconnect gives performance improvement, as well as giving a convincing argument for why every millisecond counts in the web world. She also demonstrated how preconnect is used in Audible.
The final talk of the session was presented by Neha Koul. Neha spoke about Serverless computing and how to host a website using the Lambda functions and API gateway. During the talk, she dived into how Functions as a Service (FaaS) describe the capability to deploy an individual “function,” action, or piece of business logic using Serverless architecture. The presentation concluded with a demonstration of a sample campaign on the website for “What’s your next title?” The audience was able to get a step-by-step guide on the serverless architecture, the lambda configurations, and important steps to set it up on their own.
The talks concluded with time for questions from the audience. After thanking everyone for a hugely successful round of Tech Talks, the tent once again turned into a mingling of inquisitive conference attendees, Audible employees, and the chilly morning air.