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19. Content > HTML and Compression

HTML and Compression

A slight amount of waste is intrinsic to HTML, because HTML is written in ASCII text. ASCII is defined as using only 7 bits of each byte, so 1 bit in 8, or 12.5 percent is wasted.

A larger amount of waste is due to the fact that text is highly compressible, but no compression is used for most HTTP transfers. It is normal for a text compression program to reduce the size of a text file by half, meaning that file can then be downloaded in half the time. Right now, transmission bandwidth is the bottleneck and CPU power for decompression is cheap, so compressing web pages would seem to make sense, even if it would make debugging problems harder.

Stylesheets may help or hurt performance, depending on how they are used. Linked stylesheets need be downloaded only once and can replace a lot of the formatting HTML you would otherwise need. This reduces network traffic. See


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