A performance comparison of rendering strategies in open source web frontend frameworks

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Title: A performance comparison of rendering strategies in open source web frontend frameworks
Author: Ollila, Risto
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202105112132
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Tietojenkäsittelytieteen maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Computer Science
Magisterprogrammet i datavetenskap
Specialisation: Ohjelmistojärjestelmät
Software systems
Abstract: The Web has become the world's most important application distribution platform, with web pages increasingly containing not static documents, but dynamic, script-driven content. Script-based rendering relies on imperative browser APIs which become unwieldy to use as an application's complexity grows. An increasingly common solution is to use libraries and frameworks which provide an abstraction over rendering and enable a less error-prone declarative programming model. The details of how web frontend frameworks implement rendering vary widely and can potentially have significant consequences for application performance. Frameworks' rendering strategies are typically invisible to the application developer, and may consequently be poorly understood despite their potential impact. In this thesis, we review rendering strategies used in a number of influential and popular web frontend frameworks. By studying their implementation details, we discover ways to categorize and estimate rendering strategies' performance based on input sizes in update loops. To verify and measure the effects of these differences, we implement a number of benchmarks that measure different aspects of rendering. In our benchmarks, we discover significant performance differences ranging up to an order of magnitude under some conditions. Additionally, we confirm that categorizing rendering strategies based on input sizes of update loops is an effective way to estimate their relative performance. The best performing rendering strategies are found to be ones which minimize input sizes in update loops using techniques such as compile-time optimization and reactive programming models.
Subject: web application performance
javascript frameworks
web application frontend frameworks

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