How Compressed HTML Works and Why You May Need It

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How Compressed HTML Works and Why You May Need It

If you own a website, you should already be familiar with picture formats and how to optimize photographs for the web. While picture compression is well-known, HTML compression is often underestimated, which is a pity since the advantages are substantial.

In this post, we’ll go through the two basic ways for downsizing HTML files, as well as why and how to do it.

Compression vs. Minification

There are two basic ways for optimizing HTML files: compression and minification. They may seem similar on the surface, but they are two unique strategies, so don’t get them mixed up.

Minification

Minification is the process of removing unneeded characters and lines from source code. Consider indentation, comments, empty lines, and so forth. None of these are necessary in HTML; they are included to make the file simpler to read. Trimming these information may reduce file size while having no effect on anything.

Sample HTML page:

<html>
<head>
<title>Your Title Here</title>
</head>
<body>
<div><img src="clouds.jpg"></div>
<h1>This is a Header</h1>
<p>Send me mail at <a href="mailto:support@yourcompany.com">support@yourcompany.com</a>.</p>
<p>This is a new paragraph!</p>
<p><strong><em>This is a new paragraph in bold and italics.</em></strong></p>
</body>
</html>

Sample HTML page, minified:

<title>Your Title Here</title><div><img src=clouds.jpg></div><h1>This is a Header</h1><p>Send me mail at <a href=mailto:support@yourcompany.com>support@yourcompany.com</a>.<p>This is a new paragraph!<p><strong><em>This is a new paragraph in bold and italics.</em></strong>

354 original size Size reduced to: 272. 82 (23.16%) savings

Many web developers and site owners limit minification to JS and CSS files exclusively, although this is an outmoded technique. HTML minification is also significant.

Minification tools were uncommon in the early 2000s. Every time anything changed, you had to manually minify the files. Because HTML files change more often than JS and CSS files, it was just too time-consuming to minify each time. It’s no longer relevant.

Compression

The HTTP protocol is used when visitors visit your website. The browser requests a certain page from your web server, your web server locates the page, and then returns the contents of that page to the visitor’s browser.

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However, since the HTTP protocol enables compression, your web server may compress the page before delivering it to the visitor (if compression is enabled in your server’s settings), and the visitor’s browser can then decompress the page.

GZIP, a file format that employs a lossless compression method called DEFLATE, is the most often used compression strategy.

The program searches the HTML file for repetitive occurrences of text and replaces them with references to a prior occurrence. Each reference is essentially two numbers: how far back the reference goes and how many characters are being referred to.

Consider the following text (sample from the GZIP website):

Blah blah blah blah blah.

The algorithm recognizes the following repetition:

B{lah b}{lah b}{lah b}{lah b}lah.

The first occurrence is our reference, so leave it be:

Blah b{lah b}{lah b}{lah b}lah.

The second occurrence relates back to the first, which is five characters later and five characters longer:

Blah b[5,5]{lah b}{lah b}lah.

However, since the algorithm detects that the following occurrence is the same sequence of characters, it increases the reference length by five characters:

Blah b[5,10]{lah b}lah.

And again:

Blah b[5,15]lah.

And since the algorithm recognizes that the following three characters are the first three characters in the reference, it increases by three:

Blah b[5,18].

Consider a normal HTML file and how much repetition it contains. Almost every tag, including

<body>

, has a corresponding closing tag, like

</body>

. Furthermore, many tags are repeated throughout, such as

<p>

,

<div>

,

<img>

,

<li>

, etc. Attributes are also repeated often, including

class

,

href

, and

src

. It’s simple to understand why GZIP compression works so well with HTML.

The only disadvantage is that the web server requires a little more CPU to do the compression each time a page is requested. But, because CPU isn’t such a big deal nowadays, it’s nearly always preferable to activate GZIP than not, even if you have entry-level web hosting.

Why You Should Compress and Minify

There are two key advantages, both of which are critical in today’s mobile-heavy online environment.

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Faster Page Loads

With minimal settings, an HTML minifier may decrease the size of a file by roughly 3%. An HTML file may be reduced by another 3 to 7 percent using available advanced options, for a total reduction of up to 10%. This translates directly into quicker page load times.

Less Bandwidth Used

Assume you have ten files, each of which has been reduced from 50 KB to 45 KB for a total reduction of 50 KB. And suppose your website receives 1,000 visits each day, with each visit consisting of 10 pages. HTML minification alone saves you 50 MB of bandwidth each day (1.5 GB per month).

Compression +Minification

If you can see, HTML minification is beneficial on its own, particularly as your site expands in size, files grow in size, and traffic climbs. It’s worth noting that Google’s PageSpeed standards suggest HTML minification, so if you’re doubtful, let that persuade you otherwise.

However, the beautiful thing about HTML optimization is that you don’t have to pick between minification and compression. You are capable of doing both! Actually, you should do both.

GZIP compression may reduce the size of an HTML file by 70 to 90 percent on average. Using the previous example and a conservative compression estimate, the minified HTML files would reduce from 45 KB to 13.5 KB, for a total reduction of 365 KB. Your site bandwidth is now decreased by 365 MB per day when compared to unminified/uncompressed (11 GB per month).

In addition to reducing bandwidth, each page loads much quicker since the end user’s browser only has to download 13.5 KB vs 50 KB every page.

How to Compress and Minify HTML

Fortunately, neither is straightforward to set up these days, and neither requires much technical knowledge.

WordPress Plugins

If you have a WordPress site, you just need to install one plugin to get the advantages of compression and minification.

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The majority of caching plugins do more than just cache pages. WP Fastest Cache and W3 Total Cache, for example, both include one-click options that enable HTML minification and GZIP compression, among other features that speed up page loading and minimize bandwidth use.

We propose the Minify HTML plugin if you just want to minify HTML. It’s basic, supports HTML/CSS/JS, and lets you fine-tune the minification approach (for example, whether to delete images).

http:

and

https:

from URLs).

Static HTML Minifiers

If your HTML files are static (that is, not created dynamically by a CMS or web framework), you may keep two sets of HTML files: a “source” set that is unminified for simple editing, and a “minified” set that you create whenever you make a modification to a source file.

To minify, use one of these tools:

If you’ve abandoned CMSs like WordPress in favor of static site generators, this is a feasible option.

Enable GZIP Compression

Depending on the web server software you’re using, the procedures to activate GZIP compression may vary. Because Apache is the most often used choice, we’ll go through how to activate it with.htaccess.

FTP into your web server, then create a file named

.htaccess

in the parent directory Change the following settings in the.htaccess file:

&lt;ifModule mod_gzip.c>
mod_gzip_on Yes
mod_gzip_dechunk Yes
mod_gzip_item_include file .(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^application/x-javascript.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
&lt;/ifModule>
&lt;FilesMatch "\.(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$">
SetOutputFilter DEFLATE
&lt;/FilesMatch>

Not sure whether your website’s compression is working? Use this tool to put it to the test.

You should also learn how to verify, clean, and optimize your CSS for maximum efficiency.

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