I am a software developer based near Melbourne, Australia. Most of my days are spent coding in Python and JavaScript, commercially as an engineer at Mozilla as well as for a variety of open-source projects. I also maintain a strong interest in logic programming, mainly as a result of my doctoral thesis. Read more about me and check out my curriculum vitae if you want to know more.

Wed, 28 Jan 2015

Are we Python yet?

While it was a lot of fun to see a web-based python interpreter beat my system python on a single carefully-tuned benchmark, that result obviously didn't say much about the usefulness of PyPy.js for any real-world applications. I'm keen to find out whether the web can support dynamic language interpreters for general-purpose use in a way that's truly competitive with a native environment.

Inspired by the PyPy speed center and the fine Mozilla tradition of publicly visualising performance metrics, I've been working on a benchmark suite and metrics-tracking site for PyPy.js. The initial version is finally live:

Are we Python yet?

TL;DR:  not really, not yet – but we're tracking slowly towards that goal.

Continue reading...

Thu, 17 Jul 2014

An Experiment in Improving Compressiblity

Alternate title: reduce your compressed file size with this one weird trick!

One of the top items on my list for PyPy.js development is to reduce the size of the initial download – it currently weighs in at a hefty 3.1M of compressed javascript code plus another 2.4M of binary data. The big wins here are clearly going to come from just generating less code, and I have made some promising initial progress on that front. But it's also a good opportunity to experiment with some after-the-fact techniques for reducing the compressed filesize without having to change the actual generated code.

The obvious approach is to reach for a higher-performance compression algorithm, perhaps bzip2 or LZMA. But these algorithms can suffer from slow decompression speeds and are not generally supported in today's web browsers. For shipping compressed content on the web today, gzip is the only game in town.

So can we do better while staying within the confines of gzip?

Continue reading...