Google JavaScript with Malte Ubl

Google Search is a highly interactive JavaScript application. As you enter a query, results are being automatically suggested to you before you even finish typing. When you press enter, some of your search results may be widgets that represent the weather, the price of a stock, a recipe for green bean soup, or a language translation for a phrase. These complex frontend components are loading dynamically–the Google Search application cannot prefetch every single possible widget that you might ask for–but the results do load very quickly.

Google has many other examples of advanced JavaScript engineering. The company is mostly known for backend engineering inventions like MapReduce, TensorFlow, Dremel, and Spanner. To turn these backend tools into user facing products, Google develops its own JavaScript frameworks and infrastructure to deliver information from the backend to the frontend.

“Backend” and “frontend” are not precise terms. At Google, there are so many layers of infrastructure between a user and the data center. If you are an engineer working on a service at Google, you probably have several “frontends” and “backends” on either side of you.

Malte Ubl is a senior staff engineer at Google. He’s heavily involved in Google’s JavaScript infrastructure, and has written about managing large JavaScript applications in detail. He also works on AMP, an open-source project for delivering web pages in a fast, performant format. He joins the show to describe Google’s history with JavaScript frameworks, the process of building frontends and middleware to deliver JavaScript applications, and the engineering behind AMP. There are criticisms of AMP, but some of them misunderstand how the AMP technology actually works.  AMP allows pages to be cached, prefetched, and served to a user more quickly. AMP does not necessarily centralize pages around being served from Google Search. A good example of AMP speeding up pages outside of Google is reddit.

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