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I decided to disable AMP on my site (alexkras.com)
665 points by akras14 on June 26, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 350 comments



There's a lot of backlash against AMP on principle, which I agree with and support. However, as a non-principled web consumer, I think AMP pages are 10x better than the ad-filled, slow as molasses, jump-around-as-JavaSript-loads, video autoplaying, 'stories you might like' suggested bullshit, auto-loading 20MB heaps of steaming garbage that current news sites are. I think that AMP is a stepping stone that shows the user experience that people want but lights a fire under web developers to give them that experience without relying on Google's walled garden. How many stories of "Company X made a great product Y, but Company X is anti-consumer/evil/eats puppies, so the OSS made their own and it has grown into something great" have you heard? I think AMP is another one.

The web has become bloated, where people use heavy JS frameworks like React to make their blog and then load 5MB of ad JS to load 10MB autoplaying videos. I dream of a day when static site generators like Hugo and Jekyll are the norm. Let's flex our muscles and make that happen and show the world that AMP is good but openness is better.


> However, as a non-principled web consumer, I think AMP pages are 10x better than the ad-filled, slow as molasses, jump-around-as-JavaSript-loads, video autoplaying, 'stories you might like' suggested bullshit, auto-loading 20MB heaps of steaming garbage that current news sites are.

You don't need AMP to get rid of them though. We can appreciate that Google encouraged developers to get rid of bloat AND to opt-in for AMP, but that doesn't make AMP technically superior. I think we should give a critique of ourselves and ask why did we wait for a corporation G to push us to get rid of the bloat we created?


> You don't need AMP to get rid of them though. We can appreciate that Google encouraged developers to get rid of bloat AND to opt-in for AMP, but that doesn't make AMP technically superior. I think we should give a critique of ourselves and ask why did we wait for a corporation G to push us to get rid of the bloat we created?

AMP (or something like it) makes it easier to push recommended practices to upper management and your team though. A site is either an AMP site or it isn't; you can't selectively ignore some of the recommended practices. If you're not using AMP, you've got to convince your team to follow the recommendations and get management to schedule time for it. For example, it's probably a tough sell to refactor an existing page to remove blocking JavaScript unless you can prove it's going to lead to a big speedup and so on for all recommendations.

I'm not saying that it's impossible to do this, just that something opinionated like AMP helps everyone follow recommended practices with less friction. It's similar to having a compiler that gives an error for a recommended practice vs it being in your coding style guide that you have to manually enforce.


While your point is valid, it's a sad state of affairs when engineers and their managers can't even be trusted to make good decisions for themselves, and have to outsource their judgement to Google under the guise of having your hands tied. The irony, it would seem, is that you're actually tying your own hands in other ways.

Of course, we could argue till the cows come home about what "good" judgement is :)


> While your point is valid, it's a sad state of affairs when engineers and their managers can't even be trusted to make good decisions for themselves, and have to outsource their judgement to Google under the guise of having your hands tied. The irony, it would seem, is that you're actually tying your own hands in other ways.

Well, when you've got your project managers, marketing people, coders etc. all trying to optimise for different things, each group doesn't understand each other and team member expertise differs I don't think it's that weird that issues like blocking JavaScript, encoding image sizes in HTML etc. aren't top priority.

For website speed, anything that makes it easier to know what the right thing to do is without debate is going to help. Even within a team of experienced web developers it isn't obvious what the best approach is because there's so many options.


We can appreciate that Google encouraged developers to get rid of bloat AND to opt-in for AMP, but that doesn't make AMP technically superior.

Depends what you mean by technically superior. In terms of benchmarks, AMP pages are lightning fast. Isn't that the only metric that matters?


I meant that you could achieve the same by reducing the bloat, applying the best practises etc. To be fair, Google has been encouraging people to do so through the PageSpeed suite for quite a long time...

What I found unfair about AMP is Google preloading your AMP-enabled webpage. So that even if your not-AMP-enabled page is equally efficient, an AMP-enabled page would feel faster because Google preloads it in the background. And then there is the fact that Google hosts your own content under their domain, and all other points raised in the article.


Right, but users don't care about the reasons why it's faster. They just know it's faster. Hence they use AMP, and AMP gains traction. We can say it's unfair, but that's life.

If we want to defeat AMP, we have to beat it at its own game. That requires us to come up with an alternative that's equal or faster than AMP. And clearly we've failed as developers to push for non-bloated solutions.

It might be possible to create our own version of AMP -- to take the best ideas from AMP and integrate it into some centralized system that isn't controlled by Google. It'd be tough, but the alternative is to let AMP steamroll us. A few rebellious developers aren't going to make much difference in terms of total AMP adoption.

Even if the AMP alternative was just a standard way of stripping bloat from websites, that might get us 50% of the way toward beating AMP.


> If we want to defeat AMP, we have to beat it at its own game. That requires us to come up with an alternative that's equal or faster than AMP.

The technical work has been done for years. The problem is that currently the only decision which matters is Google's and they're treating performance concerns as a way to use other people's content to bolster their own brand. The only two ways that seems possible to change are either convincing Google to reverse that policy or getting more people to use non-Google search engines, which seems unlikely given the huge quality lead they have over Bing, DDG, etc.


This is similar to what happened with HTTP/2. Varnish author has his own proposal, but everything asides from SPDY simply wasn't even looked at.


And the current SPDY solution actually turns out to be worse under many circumstances, causing QUIC.


Isn't AMP itself just a standard way of stripping bloat from websites? You could take the AMP library, include it in your web page and do anything you want with it.

What is the precise element of AMP you are trying to beat?


I think people are uncomfortable with the idea of Google controlling every aspect of your website down to the presentation. It'd be better for this to be centralized and standardized independently of Google's tendrils.

Part of what makes AMP fast is the preloading, so any AMP competitor would need to tackle that problem. You'd also need to demonstrate that websites rank better if they use your solution. And they should, if Google plays fair. If not, then at least this would be a public demo of that fact.


It's that and Google's CDN. If you hosted it yourself Google wouldn't include you in Search results carousel.


On that same metric good old plain HTML is faster.


Well, sure. But HN is one of the few major websites that uses plain old HTML. At other websites, developers have very little leverage. The people pushing for bloated websites are managers / executives, not devs. Hence, bloat.

What can we do about this situation?


> At other websites, developers have very little leverage. The people pushing for bloated websites are managers / executives, not devs. Hence, bloat.

I found that AMP helps a lot in that marketing/exec teams see Google pushing AMP and think they need AMP.

My company built AMP equivalents, and honestly I wish we could ditch our entire React site for AMP.

Instead of an exec demanding a feature, we can now say "AMP doesn't support it." No matter how many times we've set performance budgets, management absolutely tears the budgets down the second we need to implement some flashy new feature (which for some reason is the perceived solution to every sales slump). A group of us has tried to use data against this at least a handful of times, but memories seem to be short lived.

Of course we need organizational change, but after pushing a stone up the hill over and over again you essentially just say "fuck it" and let it crush you. Bottom-up corporate change is a fool's errand.


> In terms of benchmarks, AMP pages are lightning fast.

But apparently not faster than doing it yourself.

"Pinboard founder Maciej Cegłowski already recreated the Google AMP demo page without the Google AMP JavaScript and, unsurprisingly, it's faster than Google's version."[1]

[1] https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/19/open_source_insider...


AMP pages hosted at a fast CDN under your own domain name would be technically as good as AMP pages hosted on Google's CDN


I think it's because these bad little decisions make the publisher incrementally more money, and so their managers push for bloat. Eventually they end up squeezing more and more out of the audience subset that hasn't cracked and turned to an alternative.


Because most of these pages are also corporate owned, and they believed that doing that stuff increased revenues.


Exactly, and Alex is probably not the only one who thinks that way:

"I initially enabled AMP on my site for one reason only – ranking well in Google search results."

This reminds me about a friend of mine, his father used to run a restaurant and he enabled "donations" to the mob to get a "better ranking" (or not to suffer worse ranking as it were).


On iOS I usually find AMP pages to be less usable. It forces a bar at the top and I can't easily share the link. Sometimes sites don't seem to work at all. For a long time any Reddit link on the Google Search results just didn't load on iOS for me.

I run an adblocker and use reading mode frequently. I do not usually suffer any issues with ads even without AMP. It is solving a problem I do not have and creating more problems in the process.


Can you elaborate on the Reddit issue? I experienced something similar (just a white page, no app opening, etc). Curious if this is the same thing.


I see it too. I think it's my content blocker (I use Firefox Focus). Easy enough workaround: tap the link icon at the top, then tap the link, and you'll open the page directly without Google's bullshit proxying. Still quite annoying, though. Any time I do a Google search and there's a choice of AMP and non-AMP results, I go for the non-AMP ones. I like having pages that load fast and aren't full of junk, but not as much as I like having pages that scroll properly.


Same thing.


Same here. Media (images, video, etc.) don't load at all and the site scrolls very quickly.


Get used to that scrolling. It is the new default in iOS11 (and a welcome change!)


I've always said: The problem AMP is trying to solve is very real. It's the way that Google is trying to solve it that is a problem.

What Google should be doing is encouraging the right designs, instead of pushing their own walled-garden design.


Unfortunately encouraging better design won't do much to most of the web. You have to guide with a heavy hand.


I'd strongly disagree. If you hit them where it hurts, they'll change. I'll even argue that we haven't really tried encouraging sites to be better.

If Google ranked load-time/page-bloat much heavier in their algorithm, and started punishing bad pages, then sites would adjust.

I currently see very little action from Google in this direction.


Look at how successful the mobile-friendly push was at getting everyone from vaguely talking about responsive designs to doing it Right Now! Every user-visible benefit of AMP would happen following your comment – increase the weight for page load time/size and add a standard pre-fetch mechanism[1] which would close most of the gap for the CDN hosting.

1. i.e. the top n results will have rel=dns-prefetch tags hoisted into the search result, the top result (or visible/hover/etc.) will have the first rel=preload html/style/script tags hoisted.


> I think AMP pages are 10x better than the ad-filled, slow as molasses, jump-around-as-JavaSript-loads,

Firefox on mobile supports extensions, so you can use UBlock Origin / UMatrix. Also the built-in reader mode makes most sites a much better experience.


>Firefox on mobile supports extensions

Unfortunately this isn't true on iOS as far as I can tell.


Safari on iOS supports adblockers


> Also the built-in reader mode makes most sites a much better experience.

True, but it doesn't improve page load times.


> 10x better than the ad-filled, [...] 'stories you might like' suggested bullshit

Actually I see these on an AMP page too.



You're right but man you get a lot of that browsing with noscript. Reddit is loads faster with noscript blocking all the cruft they wrap around that site and that's not even one of the clickbaity sites.


That's true but it's a band-aid fix. We need to figure out how people can browse the web efficiently while ensuring websites are financially feasible, and everybody simply blocking javascript is not a financially feasible solution. I'd be more than happy to pay cash for a lot of stuff rather than have to deal with tracking/obnoxious ads, but I think the web would be a much worse place if all non-advertisement content was behind paywalls.

I have no idea what a sustainable solution would look like. Something similar to the Brave browser that was actually agreed upon by site owners and users alike, where site owners would turn off all of the BS for people that paid cash?

Of course, that doesn't touch the problem of people using crazy over-the-top, poorly optimized front-end stacks for things that could easily be accomplished with a regular web server and a smattering of Ajax.


"We need to figure out how people can browse the web efficiently while ensuring websites are financially feasible"

I'm trying to figure out how to make JS blocking available to normal end users. Why should users have to put up with the current shitty situation when a simple, technical solution is available that doesn't involve Google or anyone else whose intentions are not aligned with users' intentions? The main challenge is fixing the UI so that it can be used by the least computer literate users.


Make all web sites not require behaviour? This is a classic boiling the ocean solution.


Why not just fork AMP, call it openAMP and then rally around a roadmap that is more fair for the web platform at large (instead of just Google's)?


I think that it would be better to use better practices in regular HTML. There doesn't need to be a new markup format -- just more restraint with JavaScript/animations/CSS/advertisements.


Without Google behind it how would you drive adoption?


Google won't let you into the carousel


Sounds ripe for a lawsuit


Which is exactly why the EU has 3 (well, now 2) open antitrust cases against Google.


Have more optimism. AMP is all about performance and fighting web bloat, which is a real problem nowadays. This is how a typical mobile web page looks like: https://i.redd.it/t6u12tcocx5z.jpg and AMP is a radical but effective step towards the faster web. Additionally, AMP Cache loads content in less than no time and saves bandwidth and load on original servers, which reduces costs.


Publishers want revenue, not fast sites. I think that is the root of the problem.

Instead of AMP a better solution could be to add buttons to browser to disable JS/CSS/Web Fonts (the most useless innovation)/Cookies and let the user decide what they want to see.


Kind of like how selling socks shouldn't require a 60MB video autoloading. Yet http://www.sockfancy.com has a huge video that automatically loads and plays on desktops.


Speaking as someone who uses React: wut?

My companies entire site JS, React and many other modules included, is 220kb over the wire (gzipped).

Site bloat is a thing but it's due to bad developer practice not frameworks or libraries

The single worst offender though for bloat are 3rd party ad networks - Google included/especially. The site often has minimal control over what is put in ad slots.

Start pushing against google to improve their standards for ad payloads and you'll see a massive improvement.

Railing against ads themselves however is, sadly, not too helpful


As a predominantly frontend developer, I sometimes (just for giggles) check to see the page load of pages I visit. It always dismays me to see a site's own resources only take 200-500kb of bandwidth... and then all the ads and associated requests take another 25MB. It's quite common and I keep thinking there must be a better way..


Well, there is - but consumers prefer free + ads to micro-payments or subscriptions. Granted there has been pushback recently but that's usually due to gross abuse of ads.

The only realistic way that I see forward are the ad networks (and this includes Google) setting lower maximum payload sizes for ads. Obviously sites can push back on quality and size but it's a hard metric to track consistently given how ad networks serve things.


~~consumers~~ (nay, citizens) prefer to have no ads or subscription costs etc.

The fact is: ad-based model just puts the burden on those most susceptible to advertising. It's similar enough to funding schools through state lotteries in that the money comes from somewhere or the results go underfunded, and if you accept state-run lotteries or anything that looks even slightly like today's ad-based internet, you are talking about a funding source that is deeply and fundamentally unethical.


You say that, but time after time user behavior shows they'll go to the ad supported version.

See also: mobile. You have to totally gameify things to get micropayments to work.

I mean, if you want that for websites, sure... but if you think clickbait is bad now...


"but" is not appropriate. You aren't contradicting anything I said. I'd agree with you completely, but your points are only "and" from my post, not "but".


There are no micro payments out there that would support the site. You'd need to charge something like 0.0005 cents per view. No currency exchange supports something small. In reality, it would make people money. The consumer could limit their account to $20/m.

On the other hand, micropayment would freeze out poor people.


No, poor people would just see ads because they can't pay to remove them. Although I guess that's not a great target market...


It sounds like you use React well and it's reasonably light and performant. The current project I'm on has a React frontend where typing in a text box is laggy due to how horrific the code base is. You're correct in saying that React is not to blame only it's misuse, however it is becoming a common cause of slowness.


If it wasn't React it would be [insert any other framework here]. React isn't the cause - bad developer practice is. As you said - a text box is laggy due to how horrific the code base is.

That's not something that is going to be fixed by changing library.


AMP pages are regularly filled with garbage ads too.

Try clicking any of the god-awful clickbait AMP pages shared on Facebook, for example.


The author has some very valid points against AMP from a technical standpoint, but for me there is a single reason that is sufficient: the Web is, and should stay, free and open. Indeed, I'm having really hard time trying to understand how people can be fine with AMP while fighting for the net neutrality and so on.


Completely agree, while technically AMP is suitable but it creates a walled garden by using Google - who actually boost page rankings if you use it, so they have publishers by the balls "forcing" them to use AMP to get higher in their rankings.


AMP does not seem like a walled garden tech. any crawler can find and use the AMP version of a page through this tag:

<link rel="amphtml" href="https://www.example.com/url/to/amp/document.html">

Thus all google is doing is rewarding sites that have implemented this and as a result load fast, no? imo, its drastically different to Instant Articles because you can never ever find the Instant Articles version of a web page. its private and only fb knows it.


I am not saying exactly that Google is evil, and maybe they don't even have bad intentions (heck, we are talking about a corporate identity here, how far can we apply morals?). But, what I am thinking is that AMP and its rivals (such as Instant Articles) hurt the free & open Web. For instance, Google Search is invaluable, but as a side effect, a website that doesn't end up on the first page of a Google Search result for instance, is nearly non-existent.

Also, the notion of hyperlinks are crucial to the Web and these projects break it. Hyperlinks originate from an article from 1945, "As We May Think"[1], and the term itself is coined by Ted Nelson in 1965 for Project Xanadu. That's how you create a web that is now called the Web. That's also what Google's PageRank algorithm depends on, at least at the beginning. Now, letting Google host your content, under a link such as `https://www.google.com/amp/www.example.com/amp/doc.html`, you are breaking hyperlinks: it is no more linking different websites together.

[1]: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-m...


i would expect that content producers will start putting in abreviated versions of their content in AMP format to satisfy the AMP requirement as minimially as possible, and then add a link back to the original site for the rest.


I'm going to guess Google would penalise that behaviour for showing different content, justifying it as "harming the user experience" or something.

If they don't do this already, they probably will if they keep going down the AMP rabbit-hole.


I believe reddit does something like that where they include only a portion of a thread with a big “view full thread” button.

I think that’s a good idea, but I fear some users won’t realize there’s more or may not understand the abrupt change in layout/design/etc.


That's exactly what allrecipes.com used to do, and they have fairly high Google juice for random recipes. I thought they still did, but when I went to verify it didn't show up. It'd be interesting to know why they stopped.


Sites that are traditionally called walled gardens (facebook, AOL, compuserve...) often combine four features; (a) all the content is hosted under the walled garden's domain; (b) the walled garden designs key parts of the navigation and layout, understandably acting in their own interests; (c) the walled garden has content policies and declines to host certain content; and (d) users must have accounts and be logged in to see the content.

AMP does (a) and (b); I don't know about (c); and doesn't do (d).

Still, I can see why people see echos of walled gardens in AMP.


The feature that defines a walled garden is the wall. AMP doesn't have that wall: it is perfectly usable by any other search engine/spider to replicate the experience. The website itself can link to the AMP version if that makes sense for users. Mobile browsers, or web servers, could check for and redirect to the AMP version.

There's a slightly-higher wall for advertisers, I believe. But Google is rightfully afraid of antitrust issues and seems eager to get advertisers besides themselves signed up. But it is a wall in that it requires whitelisting, as far as I remember.

There's a lot to criticise about AMP, but I don't think the "walled garden" metaphor fits.


Here's the wall: could any competitor to Google itself ever be on AMP? (E.g., a competitor to search, Gmail, YouTube, or adsense/adwords.)

Or would it have to be something on the open web? And if only AMP pages get ranked well on Google in the future, how much harder would it be for such competitors to ever get noticed in the first place?


> And if only AMP pages get ranked well on Google in the future

Currently, the only thing on Google results explicitly limited to AMP is the mobile news carousel. Presumably AMP pages also do well on the "loads fast" evaluation that affects normal rankings, but in theory it should be possible to do equally well without AMP. If this is changed, or turns out to not hold up in practice, then there is cause for concern, but I have not seen evidence of either.

News sites, of course, don't generally compete with Google's core services - unless you count Blogger, but in that case all news sites do). The one thing I can think of is that they might embed videos hosted on competitors to YouTube. When it comes to that, AMP is a mixed bag. Unlike on the open web, video players that use custom controls/iframes (like YouTube) need to be explicitly approved, since there's not much alternative without granting a blanket license to put arbitrary sites in iframes, which would (mostly) defeat the purpose. So Google acts as a gatekeeper. On the other hand, the spec [1] already lists like a dozen random video hosts you've never heard of; that's not evidence that Google wouldn't try to block a more serious competitor to YouTube, should one ever spring up, but there's certainly no evidence that they would.

[1] https://www.ampproject.org/docs/reference/components/amp-vid...


Unless I'm mistaken, they did experiment with various attempts to highlight their own video offerings beyond what popularity dictated before finally giving in and buying YouTube.

And we all remember the kinds of crap Google did to try to foist Plus on users who had no interest in it. At one point 1/4 of the annual bonus of everyone at the company was tied to it.

http://www.businessinsider.com/larry-page-just-tied-employee...


What other CDN than Google's can host AMP content and still get in the Carousel?

Hint: none.


AMP has the wall.

Can I get the same display in the Google Search with or without AMP? No.

That’s the wall.


Then is HTTPS also a wall, given that HTTPS results are favoured by Google search?


It would be if you had to use Googles as your CA, immediate or intermediate, whatever.


What? With HTTPS, I get full control.

With AMP, I get a different search ranking if I use Google’s AMP version, or if I self-host the AMP scripts (to prevent users being tracked by Google).

I have to allow every user of my site to be tracked by Google if I want to get the AMP ranking advantage.

I can’t fork AMP.

The ranking advantage is given only if you use Google’s AMP cache.

How can you seriously compare this with HTTPS?


Can you elaborate? sites that dont implement AMP still appear in google news and even above AMP results as far as I can tell


It only affects the carousel at the top of the site


Which, on mobile, takes ~40% of the available page. Often catapulting a page 13 result to #2


Try regular google search, instead of news.


I don't think it's fair to claim that (a) applies here, certainly not like Facebook at least. Facebook makes an effort to keep user-created content inside of their platform. Google does not make any effort like that with regard to AMP, other search engines could use the AMP data just as well. Serving it from their own domain is just a technical matter.


But it doesn't do (a), either. Google hosts a cache of the content, but the original is hosted by the publisher, and Google's cache isn't exclusive. Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, IIRC, operate their own caches, and so can anyone else who wants to (and there's a fairly strong incentive too if you host something that functions as a high-volume portal.)

AMP makes it harder for real walled gardens to provide an attractive performance advantage to end-users, making it not only not a walled garden, but also a potent weapons against walled gardens.


So, how do I get my page into the carousel without using Google’s cache?

How do I get my page into the carousel when using a fork of AMP that reduces the JS load?


> AMP does not seem like a walled garden tech. any crawler can find and use the AMP version of a page through this tag

So "any crawler" who is willing to slavishly follow whatever Google is currently doing, and currently doing in the open (who knows how long that will last), can technically get access to the same content so it's not a "walled garden".

To me it sounds like Google doing yet another non-standard thing without asking the rest of the web-community for input, and using their weight as a way to push this through in their usual, hostile manner.

And here on HN people are defending it as perfectly reasonable. The mob clearly has something to learn from these guys.


So lets say AMP was not invented. Web pages have been notoriously slow on mobile for a decade. Where is this open standard to make pages lod faster? where is W3 or Mozilla? Its been a decade. if there was a competituve open standard I would be against AMP but there isnt.


> Where is this open standard to make pages lod faster?

Not filling a page of what is effectively 80KB static text-content with 20MBs of JS, fonts, tracking-code and other "assets" would be a good start.

The web isn't slow. People deliberately create slow web-pages because they care more about user-tracking and "fancy" technology than they care about user-experience.

And making Google a pre-requisite for any web-page is NOT the solution to that problem. That's the wrong way around. We need less tracking. Less JS. Less Google.


At some point... god, most of a decade ago now, I guess, it seems like the kinds of people doing web design changed and this new crop didn't care about or understand bandwidth constraints like the old ones did. Strangely, this was around the same time "digital native" instead of "print influenced" design got big, so you'd think it'd have gone the other way, but it definitely did not.

In fact, I'd say the much-derided Flash aesthetic/inefficiency kind of won, right around the time we were all celebrating killing Flash. Everything's whiz-bang shiny and so damn slow and resource-hogging. Plus flat design is a disaster in all but the most capable hands, so I'd say UX generally has suffered over the last decade.


> At some point... god, most of a decade ago now, I guess, it seems like the kinds of people doing web design changed and this new crop didn't care about or understand bandwidth constraints like the old ones did.

This is a cyclical problem because people tend not to measure performance until they notice a problem, which means it's a function of both technical factors and user expectations. The rise of mobile added a confusion point since it basically dropped back to dial-up/DSL-class networking after the overall web community had had a decade to get used to cable modem-grade performance and made wasting bandwidth a direct cost rather than just inefficiency. In the mid-2000s, using a big JavaScript toolkit wasn't great but it wasn't so bad when you could assume that most users had better latency than even LTE delivers and user expectations hadn't adjusted for the post-IE era.

The other big factor is the ongoing decline of advertising as a viable business model. The worst offenders I see are either ads or the measurement tools publishers use to document their site's performance, and that's been getting continually worse as everyone keeps chasing diminishing returns.


You also need to account for all that JS to have a runtime-impact.

More JS will make a slower site, especially on mobile.


> Not filling a page of what is effectively 80KB static text-content with 20MBs of JS, fonts, tracking-code and other "assets" would be a good start.

I imagine if you expand and codify this idea, you will come up with something very close to AMP. I'm not sure if you're against the idea of AMP/AMP-like standard, or against Google's execution of it.


josteink is probably against the idea of a big corporation hosting the publishers' websites, but in favour of the design guidelines of AMP.


Hopefully tech people will start to ditch companies with such a bad behaviour.

> https://twitter.com/aral/status/877998804678524928


And until Google and AMP came along, there was no stick to make authors do this.


Actually, there is a competitive standard to AMP: Mobile Instant Pages (MIP) from Baidu - https://www.mipengine.org


Since that standard is only targeting the Chinese markets, I don't think it is a viable standard for the rest of the world.


When you load an AMP page in your browser, you never actually connect to the original publisher. That seems like a walled garden to me.

Personally, as a consumer, I absolutely hate the fact that I can't quickly check my browser's domain bar to see what website I'm reading (to assess its credibility for example).


>Thus all google is doing is rewarding sites that have implemented this and as a result load fast, no?

No. And Google could not care less if pages load fast -- it could incenticize making pages faster with traditional methods instead. It's all about capturing more eyeballs and proxying more traffic.


But why? AMP allows other advertisers. They can track clicks just as easily with a redirect. They could quite easily change the UI of the Android browser to allow for fast switching through search results. Nobody cares what CDN the bytes are served from if the content is identical.

I agree that it's somehow yucky, but I don't see how it can be ascribed to malice intent, instead of an effort to improve the user experience that maybe goes too far.


They already did that, and web "developers" did not do the work. The period in which Google incentivized faster page loads was the period of some of the worst page bloat growth.


It depends what "market" you are looking at.

In some areas people understand care about such things, in those areas we did and still do see some optimisation effort. Far from everywhere of course, even within that subset, but I'd wager there was improvement overall (or at least things got worse less than they otherwise would).

In other areas though the available audience either doesn't understand or doesn't care (because their connection and CPU are fast enough to cope for instance, and they aren't on an expensive metered link) or both. I say "available audience" because for these sites the "target audience" is every-human-alive-several-times-over-good-god-we-need-more-ad-impressions-and-clicks - the likes of buzzfeed and the other click-bait filled "news" and "entertainment" sites where four sentences of content can be stretched over sixteen pages of large, slow loading, auto-playing, obnoxious adverts. The people who care about load time (and/or relevant technical or privacy matters) simply don't follow those links. The people who do follow the links aren't worth making page load optimisations for because they simply won't care or notice, so from the site's PoV the time is better spent on adverts-hung-onto-into-each-morsel-of-content optimisations instead. And that was when Google ranking was the main thing that mattered, more recently the operators of such sites are more interested in distribution via social media so Google ranking you lower for a slow load is less of a concern, or if it is a concern there are tricks (not all of which Google can easily filter for - it is an on-going war of attrition) to show Google different versions of the content that does load quickly.


>They already did that, and web "developers" did not do the work.

It's not up to them to decide after that.


I would argue that they didn't do that, or at least not enough. I obviously have no insight to how they sort, but IME they aren't putting small and fast sites at the top of the list. Those are usually 3 or 4 pages back, and the first results are usually the slow and bloated ones.


who actually boost page rankings if you use it

No they don't. The news carousel prioritizes AMP, but it has no known measure on search engine results.

AMP chatter on here has become incredibly one-sided to the point of absurdity, where karma is easily gained by denigrating AMP, talking about "leaving" it, etc. It is beyond reasoned discussion.


The carousel is the top result.


The carousel is only for news/trending type searches. The fact that we're all to just pretend like everything people search for is news/trending is exactly the sort of nonsense that makes discussing AMP futile on here.


AMP was designed with news publishers in mind. So we're just arguing in circles if you're saying that AMP isn't a problem because it only affects news searches, when AMP was specifically designed for use by news publishers.

If you aren't a news publisher that's all very well and good for you, but that doesn't mean AMP has a huge effect on how people receive their news, and that it isn't worth talking about that.


Monopoly and racketeering. Site owners, do as the Good Google says if you don't like to loose your visitors and customers.


> So they have publishers by the balls "forcing" them to use AMP to get higher in their rankings.

Except that I don't write blogposts to please the Google search engine. A site can be found via many other ways. News sites like Reddit are a great way to be discovered, aswell as HN. There's also link dumps like Pinboard which are another way to discover, aswell as others. Twitter, etc


You presumably also don't write blog posts as your primary source of income. A lot of media companies do, and depend very heavily on search engine traffic in order to make money. Between Google and Facebook, their fate is entirely out of their own control.


I fail to see what, in AMP, makes the web less free or open. I am usually among the first on the stockade on invasive tech, but I have a hard time to understand the fuss around AMP.

Yes, the cache is problematic, as it may allow Google, in a possible future, to filter some content, censor some other or not refresh often some pages. The thing is, if it does that, people will start using Google's caching, that's as simple as that.


In my opinion, the reason it makes the web less free and open is because Google has a de-facto monopoly on search and they're abusing it to force you host your content on their domain and to use proprietary technology in order to receive fair placement in their results.

In the past, Google said "we will prioritize search results by load speed." That's completely fair and a move I can applaud – it points out a serious problem with the web and leaves it up to publishers to come up with innovative and creative solutions of their own to reduce load time.

Now, Google has changed the deal. It doesn't matter how much you've innovated to provide a good experience to your visitors – it doesn't matter if you created a version that loads ten times as fast as AMP and provides a better user experience, you will still be penalized by Google if you don't use AMP. You will not be allowed in the carousel, regardless of how well your site performs. You will not be prioritized above AMP results, you won't see the "lightning bolt," even if your site is legitimately as fast as AMP. It kills any motivation for any company or person to develop a better system for loading pages quickly, because sites using it will never be able to overcome the unfair advantage given to AMP sites.


As I understand it Google has stated it does not penalize or boost AMP pages. Do you have evidence to support this accusation?


As pointed out in the article only AMP results get placed in the carousel at the top of the search results. That's definitely an example of boosting AMP. They could generate carousel entries for non-AMP pages with og:title and og:image just fine so there's not a compelling technical reason.


I believe Google uses page load time as one of the ranking factors. If your non-AMP pages load quickly, you will be fine.

I don't think they specifically reward AMP.


You've rather sidestepped the point about the carousel in the grandparent comment by simply stating your opinion. I'd prefer to read an actual response.


"I believe"

"I don't think"

Try looking for evidence instead. Do a Google search on mobile. Try to find a single carousel result that isn't an AMP page.


Not all of the carousel's are AMP. I just searched for Trump on Google news and the carousel didn't contain any AMP pages.


Mobile or desktop? On mobile the carousel was 100% AMP. On Desktop the "top stories" was 0% AMP.


Mobile. I have a Nexus 5X. I was using the default Chrome browser.


That's strange. I only see AMP pages now, and I have only ever seen AMP pages in the carousel for at least the past couple of months. Maybe they're doing some kind of A/B test for some users.


And ISPs have stated that they won't throttle existing services without Net Neutrality.

Boosting one thing while leaving the other alone, in this case, is effectively the same as punishing the other.


>I fail to see what, in AMP, makes the web less free or open.

Google serving your pages?

Hijacking your domain for the server pages and obscuring links to the original content?

Use of a proprietary technology (whether open sourced or not, it's not a standard)?

Abuse of power with veiled threats of punishing content publishers who are not using recommending AMP to make their pages "fast and responsive"?

The only way to be any more against the free and open web is if they made Google search a web proxy where you never get access to the underlying page...


> The only way to be any more against the free and open web is if they made Google search a web proxy where you never get access to the underlying page...

Give it some time. They are pulling more and more content into the search results pages which has roughly that effect, since people no longer click through.


Interestingly, assuming it works well, that's kind of exactly what I want as a user. Whenever I'm searching for one of the following (which form a large fraction of my searches):

  - definition of a word
  - lyrics of a song
  - summary of a movie
  - phone number and/or address of a business
  - distance between places
  - unit or currency conversions
  - weather
I have no desire to "click through" to anything. I want my piece of information, a raw fact. That I have to select from various providers, each with their own (non-standardized) UX and possibly various "value-added" crap like ads and popups, is at best a nuisance, at worst a big time-waster. In this way, the "content providers" are becoming annoying middlemen between me and the information I seek.

So while I don't want to see Google monopolizing the Internet, I also don't like the model in which information is served by individual web pages (which can, and do, disappear all the time and get replaced by something different). So I wonder - how can we promote and develop the open web, while also making it better and more productive for people?

Maybe if people served data streams instead of web pages, things would be easier? Related, I'm all for every kind of way of taking control over the way a page looks away from their authors. The Web is increasingly becoming a place for designers to show off, and this wastes both users' time and resources. Ad blockers, noscript and reader modes are huge wins in this space, but I think we need more. Maybe some self-hosted auto scrappers that would help me answer my information queries without actually visiting full pages?


>I have no desire to "click through" to anything. I want my piece of information, a raw fact.

Do you also want the original content creators to starve and die off and the only competent content source left to be either Google's archive or Google's lacklustre service for the same thing?


As I said many times in discussions about ad-blockers - I think that content that can't exist in a non-ad-supported way can stop existing, we'll all be better off. Almost anything that's valuable on-line is either a marketing expense or done pro bono.

Also, I didn't mean I want a Google-dominated reality. Only said that this particular feature - content in search results - is a step in the right direction; it showcases a better way to use the Web. The reality I want is made of free and open-source tools doing that, not Google.


> I think that content that can't exist in a non-ad-supported way can stop existing, we'll all be better off.

I'm not sure what is stopping you from doing that now. You can blacklist domains that serve ads and stop visiting them. Or even better yet, hire someone to write a browser plugin that blocks websites with ads, should be fairly trivial to do. And release the source code so others can benefit.


It's even simpler and I alerady do it - all it takes is to install an ad blocker.


Right, I thought you were principled. My mistake !!


>Almost anything that's valuable on-line is either a marketing expense or done pro bono.

So, like Netflix?


s/Almost anything/Almost anything available for free/

Netflix is a subscription service; I pay them, they stream me movies, the contract is straightforward.


Well, then maybe, you know, Google should actually create that content rather than plagiarize it?


That's a different issue altogether. The information is there, it's freely and publicly available (by definition - if it weren't, it wouldn't show in search engines' results) - it's just in the wrong format.

I'm increasingly more convinced that the best way to save open, distributed web would be to kill off Internet commerce. Think of it this way: when I'm searching for information, I'm like a fish searching for food. There are places where it naturally occurs, but more and more food is placed by businesses, who attach them to hooks in order to bait me into spending time and money on stuff I don't want. Great for the fishermen, but in this story I'm a fish.

(Sure it's a pipe dream, but it serves to highlight the conflict of interest. As an Internet user, I seek information - not deals, contracts, and all the other strings people try and attach to that information.)


> The information is there, it's freely and publicly available (by definition - if it weren't, it wouldn't show in search engines' results) - it's just in the wrong format.

No, there is such a thing as copyright. That Google ignores it doesn't make it any more right than when Hollywood balks at piracy because piracy tends to make bits available in 'the right format'. That knife cuts both ways.

> I'm increasingly more convinced that the best way to save open, distributed web would be to kill off Internet commerce.

Well, that won't happen.

> Think of it this way: when I'm searching for information, I'm like a fish searching for food. There are places where it naturally occurs, but more and more food is placed by businesses, who attach them to hooks in order to bait me into spending time and money on stuff I don't want. Great for the fishermen, but in this story I'm a fish.

Google is one of the fishermen, in fact, they are running the largest trawler on the planet.


> No, there is such a thing as copyright.

Copyright is rightfully seen a problem on the Internet :). Personally I'm currently fine with both pirates offering bits in the "right format" and with Google offering information in a better format - especially that they don't have any monopoly for that, just enough man-hours and burnable cash to do it first.

(INB4: I do respect copyright (at least more often than not), but I still believe it's ill-suited for the digital age.)

> Well, that won't happen.

One can dream, though...

> Google is one of the fishermen, in fact, they are running the largest trawler on the planet.

I know. I don't want any form of Google monopoly. I don't like AMP either. My only point is that Google displaying content in search results is an example of a better interface to the Web than the regular site visit; it saves me time, clicks, and prevents me from being exposed to all kinds of crap I don't want to see. I'm definitely not arguing we need Google for that - just that I wish we'd all go much further into that direction, preferably with free and open-source tools.


>I'm increasingly more convinced that the best way to save open, distributed web would be to kill off Internet commerce. Think of it this way: when I'm searching for information, I'm like a fish searching for food.

Look at it this way: people doing internet commerce are also searching for food -- to put it on their table.


And in the process they're trashing the Internet; shitting in their own bed, to be frank, because those same people who put crap on-line also want to use the Web to search for the information they need quickly and efficiently...

(Related, I wonder how many people in adtech actually use ad blockers.)

And in general: people need to earn their living, yes, but that does imply society should support any particular business model.


> Google serving your pages?

Yeah, what's bad about that? It is, actually, a feature of a free open web: content is there, available to anyone, including Google, to be rehashed, kept, reserved, in anyway any one see fit.

Wikicache is a feature of an open web, that does a very similar thing to what Google is doing.

> Use of a proprietary technology (whether open sourced or not, it's not a standard)?

We have really come a long way if this is what we now call a proprietary technology. My understanding (but I could be wrong) is that the specification is open, everyone is free to implement it, fork it, make editors or readers about it.

Proprietary implies (or used to imply?) that some of these rights are limited: the MPEG consortium forbidding encoders without acquiring a proper license, Oracle claiming that you can't make a Java VM without making an agreement with them, etc...

My understanding is that AMP is as open as it could be: it was just proposed by a private entity. Criticism is a good thing, but saying it will break the open web is simply a warning I can not understand.

If something needs to be criticized, it is Google's quasi-monopoly on search, but even that is not that much of a threat given how many of its competitors are still easily accessible from any device and out there to gain a foothold as soon as Google's search results show any kind of weakness.


The cache already hijacks pages in a bad way.

The [x] on the AMP banner is a back button that takes you back to Google. Most users would expect it to dismiss the banner and stay on the page.

If your AMP page was reached by a Google search carousel widget, they hijack left/right swipe on YOUR page to go to competitors pages.

And, after swiping, using the real back button skips any AMP pages in history and goes directly back to Google.

I suspect Google will do the same as they've done in search (ads vs organics)...keep taking ground in little bites over time, until it is a walled garden.


And as I user, I've never had any issues and I still don't really see the whole fuss about "copying the link being much harder". I love the much much faster load times and couldn't be happier.


As a user, I don't mind AMP. The Web is a mostly hostile place for end users. Malicious ads, 5MB+ pages just so you can read a 1 minute text article, auto-playing videos with volume set to 100%, obtrusive ads - AMP aims to fix this crud and give users a better browsing experience.

Ideologically, I'm opposed for all the reasons listed in TFA. People work to create something, yet the content and website are being ferried around by Google. AMP rendering basically strips content down to a barebones text page of the content in question with some images. Not inherently bad. However the site loses a lot of navigability, and swiping to either side moves people off of the current site and to the next search result. It's basically loading the site I selected as a search result instead of actually giving me the site I want to navigate to.

It's the same as Google scraping content to respond to search queries. It's nice to be able to search for "28th US president" and get the answer, an image, quotes, some basic biographical information, and people related to Wilson. I get all that without ever have to leave the results page, yet all of the content creators who worked hard to catalog that information get no benefit. As a user: Thanks! Ideologically: Ouch.


You make good points on the size of pages and load speed. How about instead of AMP we have something that's hosted on the server instead? Something like RSS but with built in single-article views and a standard (or at least lightweight) framework?

On the other hand you say AMP aims to fix this - anyone doing that for the ad views etc would simply not enable AMP on their site. AMP does not fix this.


I meant that AMP aims to make a holistically better browsing experience. We should not need anything special to make the web better, but until we can get some sort of unified contribution model, making money for producing web content tends to be a race to the bottom. There are in-house subscription models and sites like Patreon, but those seem to be only moderately successful to pointless.

I just want a Web where people write a lean website that delivers your content with low overhead. Then do your best to use ad networks that aren't trying to set your users' computer on fire.


> The thing is, if it does that, people will start using Google's caching, that's as simple as that.

I assume you mean "stop", but you can't. There is no way, as far as I can find, that you can opt out of google rehosting your content.


Yes, I meant "stop", sorry.

What is ironical in that issue is that Google copying/caching your content is part of the free web. We would bitch about websites that prevent copying their contents somehow.

What people can opt out of is sharing links to AMP and AMP redirects, which will happen 2.7 seconds after Google starts censoring content.


AMP is pretty much mandatory. If you don't do it you're "left behind."


Unless everybody drops it. These Google incited arms races in the end help nobody but Google, it's a web scale version of the prisoners dilemma.


Agreed. We dropped AMP on nfcworld.com last month. Too much like building a business on somebody else's platform, and by now we all know where that ends up.


100% – I think this is a shortsighted move predicated by fear and it will backfire (hopefully). Google probably wants/expects to remain dominate forever, and that's very hard to do in this space without becoming a problem yourself.


I hope publisher's drop it and take with them a few lessons about showing a little respect for the audience.


Looking at the article, It has enforce the idea that I should use it more for quick and dirty websites.

Why? Because the article doesn't display alright on my mobile (screenshot here: http://mickael.kerjean.free.fr/public/IMG_1720.PNG) From a user experience, it's not great.

The way I see it, AMP is just another alternative to Bootstrap. Sure, it's not perfect but when I need to quickly add a few things to create something simple, it does the job. Like any piece of techs, there's some downside, but at least you benefit from:

- less ui bugs in your website as it was likely test accross more devices that you could ever do on your own

- would load faster than you bootstrap equivalent


Google gets a pass on SO MUCH of the stuff it does on here that it bewilders me, genuinely, how people on HN can hold themselves both as pro net neutrality and continue to use Android phones, the Chrome browser, and advocate for personal privacy all at the same time.

Nearly every Google product spies on you to some extent, most of the time, to the furthest extent they legally and technically can. Google is DIRECTLY INCENTIVIZED to get as much info out of you as it possibly can, so that info can be distributed to advertisers and used to create a profile of you for the purposes of targeting ads. NONE OF THIS IS A SECRET, this is a business model that Google itself largely pioneered, perfected, and literally wrote the book on yet so many on HN especially are willing to give them a pass on it while deriding other, smaller companies for largely the same things on a smaller scale.

As for me, I've de-Googled to a very great extent and I feel better than ever. I miss a lot of the toys from Chrome especially but I just couldn't use it anymore, constantly feeling the stares of those digital eyes.


Google give away a lot of free stuff/services, and the targeted ads aren't too bad (not trying to pull people into a walled garden/social network, for example), which is why google gets these passes - they are purchased with social capital.


Except all of their free products are tainted by surveillance! If you aren't paying for the given service, how are they making money off of it? I'm willing to grant Google's probably taking losses on a few things, but I'd say at least the majority are profitable at this point, and the things that are profitable are SO profitable that they can easily offset the losses of other things.

Maybe I'm just too cynical, but again and again, "free" services that were based on user data are either acquired by Google and rebranded, or they go out of business because they couldn't draw a profit. So either A: Google is hemorrhaging cash to provide all these things (which I doubt) or B: They are making money because they've figured out how, likely via volume and that social capital, to MAKE these things that seemingly few if any businesses can't make profitable, profitable.


I agree, too. I have the feeling Google is trying to protect the Internet but that this is a heavy-handed approach that actually makes developing on the open web less attractive. I don't see a lot of praise for AMP, and I'm not sure Google will achieve a fast, kind of app-ified Internet as a result.


> I have the feeling Google is trying to protect the Internet

No, they're trying to protect their bottom line. If they wanted to they could easily compute a page weight : content ratio and penalize severely on that alone.


> No, they're trying to protect their bottom line.

Same thing. Maybe your words are better said.

> If they wanted to they could easily compute a page weight : content ratio and penalize severely on that alone.

Agreed.


I wholeheartedly agree.

The web is not free and open when platform A (Twitter) decides to overwrite links to other versions of a website by means of using a solution from platform B (Google).


AMP is opt in.

Full stop. You choose to participate in AMP. You can't choose to not be throttled by an ISP, or to bypass censorship.


That's an over-simplification:

1. Users have no control: if you want real URLs or the full experience, you have to work around AMP or stop using Google.

2. It's technically true that publishers can choose whether to use AMP but Google rank is a make-or-break issue for many publishers and that means the decisions is made under the threat of losing out to competitors who use AMP even if your site is already just as fast using non-proprietary tooling.

It would be much better for the open web and innovation in general if Google maintained a separation between the two and only used the real user experience when deciding ranking or placement in the special top results carousel.


1. Correct, I mean opt-in from the publishers, who seem to be the exclusive people complaining

2. Yes. As a user who really enjoys amp and really hates that every single text-based news source takes over a minute to load on a 100Mb/s+ connection, I feel not bad at all. Not even the tiniest bit. Publishers entirely brought this upon themselves. Internet speeds are faster than they've ever been, and websites are the slowest they have ever been. This is fundamentally unacceptable.

It would be better for users, and by extension, the web, if publishers stopped building horrendously bloated websites. Since they absolutely positively refuse to, AMP seems the appropriate answer - if there's demand to take away their toys, someone is going to feed into it eventually.


I'm a user. I hate AMP as a user. If it didn't have terrible scrolling and weird navigation behavior and hide the information source, then I'd probably like it for the speed. And since I don't mind other walled gardens like the iOS App Store, I probably wouldn't mind AMP. But I hate it so much that I switched search engines, since I couldn't turn AMP off when using Google search.

I sometimes discuss principled reasons for disliking AMP in HN threads, but I'm coming to the realization that it's really just the experience i dislike, and those principles would probably be overridden by UX convenience, if it actually existed. I just think the AMP team has done a really bad job of implementation now.


I find AMP only a marginal improvement over using an ad blocker. I see a far more noticeable speed boost leaving JavaScript disabled by default — that quick per-domain toggle is 80% of why I use Brave on iOS.


>>1. Correct, I mean opt-in from the publishers, who seem to be the exclusive people complaining

There are all kinds of complaints on this very page about how AMP negatively alters the user experience (stupid urls, broken scrolling, bar covering 1/3 of the content, broken UI, inability to turn it off, etc).

Those don't sound to me like "exclusive" publisher complaints.


AMP is bad and should be resisted. It is an attack on the distributed nature of the web.

The web is slow because every page of text comes with megabytes of javascript cruft to spy on users and serve ads. The solution is to make web pages that don't suck.

AMP puts even more power in the hands of Google. Just say no.


To me, AMP is the same wallet garden that Facebook is.

Google and Facebook both say: "Give us your content. But without the crap. Just the content. Since we don't allow crap, users prefer the experience over here. So your content will have more readers then on your own domain.".

And for some reason publishers are crazy enough to do that. Instead of removing the crap on their own domains in the first place.


> And for some reason publishers are crazy enough to do that. Instead of removing the crap on their own domains in the first place.

Publishers may be too broad of a definition. Marketing and sales may require that the pages be bogged down with crap content, whereas the tech team are using AMP as a way of removing it to meet the other business requirement of "go faster." Lots of big companies have problems where the left and right hands are working against each other.


you are forced to login to FB, is the same true with AMP?


If a Facebook post is public, you don't need to log in to see it.


You don't need to log in to see the top half of it. The bottom half is an annoying, uncloseable "LOG IN OR SIGN UP NOW" popup.


Whatever Google wants you to do to access the content. Once it is on their domain, they have full control over it.


It's not on their domain though. Or at least, it's not _only_ on their domain. Google is just caching content served from the publisher's domain; you can access that content just fine without going through Google.


Sure, they don't force you to hand over your data and then delete it :) What a noble gesture.

But the version on Googles domain is the version they display in the search results. So it's the version that is seen by users. So it's the version that matters.


so, do you need to log on to access AMPs content?


Not yet.


What a relief.


> same wallet garden

BEGIN NITPICKY_JERK;

Just in case you've misheard the phrase, it's actually "walled garden" not "wallet garden".

END NITPICKY_JERK;


I for one will be using 'wallet garden' (which includes the 'monied tree') from here on out.


Wallet garden and Google is the Money tree!


Too perfect. This needs to be a thing.


That's is a good way to frame it. Facebook is a deep attack on a free and open internet and even a free society fundamentally. AMP is Google going in the direction of Facebook (i.e. going from bad to worse).


> It “traps” users on Google. If user were to click “x” in the screenshot above, they will be taken back to Google search results. A normal redirect would have landed users on actual BBC site, maximizing their chances of staying on that site. Instead, AMP makes it easier for users to return to Google.

As a user, this is what I want. I don't care about the BBC's site, I care about what I searched for. If I want to see their front page, I'll go to bbc.com.

I think this article (and most AMP-bashing articles) are mostly fluff about how Google is "taking over" and "forcing" people down a certain path. When in reality everybody knows this is helping users.

As I've said many times: propose a better solution for users to be able to load article content very quickly.

The real, valid issues I'm seeing mentioned in this article are:

* Links are to google.com, which really screws up sharing.

* Apparently images and scrolling can be wonky, though I have never noticed this myself (and sounds like it could be easily solved[0] if it's true).

So again, if you can solve this problem for users in a free, publisher-opt-in, global way without the links pointing to a third party, please share your solution.

By the way, if you use CloudFlare, you can enable AMP without breaking normal links[1]. It is only the Google search engine that breaks links for AMP, not AMP itself.

I do hope that Google adds an option in your account settings to opt-out of AMP results. That way the detractors can turn it off, and everyone else can be happy that pages load in < 1 second instead of 4-5 seconds.

[0] https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml

[1] https://blog.cloudflare.com/accelerated-mobile/


>> If user were to click “x” in the screenshot above, they will be taken back to Google search results.

> As a user, this is what I want.

That's what the back button is for though.

For me, I consider AMP pages a kind of in-between page. I searched on Google, and Google is showing me the AMP page, and not the real website's page. This is apparent by the URL in the address bar.

I expect that clicking the close button will close the AMP page and take me to the real page. It fits the model better, and it solves the problem of not being able to see the actual URL (to share, bookmark, etc). Instead it does something unexpected, it acts like a back button, something I already know how to use.

That broken interaction makes Google's AMP experience super frustrating to me as a user. The side effect is that I don't use Google's search on my phone anymore. I think it's a big reason people complain about it, and want the opt-out option.


That's not what I would expect a close button to do, at all. It seems like you're expecting it to actually work like a forward button?


Every single site these days has a modal or overlay that obscures/distorts the content.

People have learned that clicking that little X gets rid of the obstruction so they can view the page as it was intended.

You probably dismiss hundreds of these EU cookie notices per week.


I hadn't realized it, but yes, this is exactly the experience I expect. The AMP page is like a modal I front of the actual site. Or that's how I think of it anyway.


Search engines have never worked like this (up until now that is). It's just not what the average user expects. It's also a dangerous precedent IMHO.


Why? It’s exactly what the average user expects. They see a site, with some message on top. Be it a cookie warning, the AMP header, etc.

They click the X or OK on the message, the message disappears, the site stays.

If you can find a website where the cookie warning’s X button redirects to your last Google search, please do so.


Either you replied to the wrong comment or I wasn't clear in my comment. We are totally in agreement.


Right, and I consider it a modal over the search results, not the page that hasn't been displayed yet.


Yes, but the only reason you think that is because you understand the technical underpinnings (ie. the content is indeed being served by the same domain as the search results).

Regular users have been expecting search results to behave a certain way for over two decades. Opening the results in a modal is simply not the expected behaviour. Changing the back button is not the expected behaviour.


> scrolling can be wonky

Last time this came up someone linked to a Google employee submitting a bug report to Apple about the scrolling. Their response was "that's how it's supposed to work - the rest of the system is wrong and we will fix that". So iPhone users might not have much choice anyway soon!

Kind of reminds me of how terrible mouse acceleration is on OSX, and how Apple gradually removed all the options for fixing it - now the only option is to install a completely different commercial mouse driver (SteerMouse).


If they just made simple html the requirement instead of a bunch of extra crap they wouldn't have that problem.


I'd be shocked if Apple's official stance was that tapping the status bar to scroll to the top of a page is wrong and should be fixed.


The person you are replying to is talking about the scroll speed.


> I do hope that Google adds an option in your account settings to opt-out of AMP results. That way the detractors can turn it off, and everyone else can be happy that pages load in < 1 second instead of 4-5 seconds.

This is not exactly what you want, but you can choose to open all search results (and by extension AMP results) in an external browser instead of the search app. For me, opening AMP links on FireFox redirects me to the non-AMP page, effectively eliminating AMP pages (technically they are still AMP results but in practice you get redirected to the non-AMP page).

To do that, from https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/7013866?hl=en - Open the Google search app. Tap the hamburger menu. Tap Settings. Tap "Accounts & Privacy". Turn off "Open web pages in app".


I don't remember seeing AMP myself, but then I'm using Firefox which has DDG set as default.

I'm wondering though if there's a way for the user to opt out (besides of not using google?). It seems like while it mostly benefits users, they should still have option to simply opt out from AMP.


@alexkras Sorry this comes from me in Nigeria using a second-hand MotoG (1.Gen). May be your website is not loading 23 trackers + unnecessary js. But many websites, load such crap. Please especially in third-world, we have so poor phones. Only google-CDN avoids all these. (yes, google does track me but we do not all have unlimited bandwidth).


Thank you for your response, and I am glad you find helpful and I am sorry that I speak up so much about it. Use cases like this is the only reason I've kept AMP on for so long.

Have you tried disabling your JavaScript and if so could you share your experience with that?


Well thanks. Many websites do not work without js. Also, I can everytime go to settings (android/chromium) and disable js. But a standard user? She/he does not know much. Pays a lot for data + have possibilty of nagging install my app in lower section of page. google-amp-CDN solves a lot.


Low-power phones in developing nations were exactly the platform we targeted when implementing _The Guardian_, and I would advise every seriously global publisher to do the same.


even amp.guardian page has 33 requests (677kB) whereas cdn.ampproject.org has 4 requests (124kB). Try this: https://amp-theguardian-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.thegu... or https://amp.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/jun/22/brexit-... Are you from Guardian?


I was. It's been a few years since, though, and I've never seen their AMP page implementation. They are quite strict about never blocking the render, though. Most of the requests you'll see are adverts.


Hey, would you like to try the brand new AMP Browser? It should help when the Internet connection on your PC is poor: http://ampbrowser.com


> try the brand new AMP Browser?

I'm only seeing a Windows build on the website. Doesn't help OP much when they have a phone: "Please especially in third-world, we have so poor phones."

I don't know if you've been to Africa, but PCs are not common there unless you're working in a company. Depending on where you are, a small portion of the population has personal laptops. Otherwise feature phones or smartphones are the best people have. So linking to a Windows-only application for someone who lives in a developing country and only lists a cellphone may not be very applicable to them.


> On iPhone, AMP seems to override the default browser scrolling. As a result scrolling of AMP pages feels off.

Good news! iOS 11 fixes this. Safari actually has an inconsistent scrolling speed compared to the rest of the OS. iOS 11 makes all Safari pages scroll at the same speed as AMP sites (-webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch)

Also important distinction for people to remember - AMP is two products:

- CDN with preloading pages in Google Search results

- Framework/guidelines for building performant results

The 'morals' and impacts to the 'free and open web' of these two are completely different.


In my mind I actually separate it into three (from Google):

- The specs/docs for building AMP pages, which can be found on www.ampproject.org - note that, a lot of these are non-free, like standardized components for specific media/social sites, and requires you to include script tags for cdn.ampproject.org component implementations. This all tells you how to add an AMP version of your page to your site, and how to link it to the original content.

- The "Google AMP Cache" CDN that hosts cached versions of AMP pages under .cdn.ampproject.org - it seems that anyone can use this...? Note these are in a separate context than the google search result page (that people think of as "AMP pages") which means a generic XSS on AMP isn't an XSS on google.com.

- The integration into Google Search. On the frontend this looks like some javascript that preloads iframes to the .cdn.ampproject.org page for results, and also uses History.pushState() to give you the google.com/amp/foo.com/ urls. If you go to those URLs directly you'll get redirected (that's the server-side implementation of them and why you don't ). There's also some crawler (and ranking?) implementation too, presumably.

A lot of discussion about AMP seems to muddy all three of these things together, which is a bit unsurprising considering Google's messaging muddles them together, but I think it's important to distinguish between them. In the "Twitter AMP redirect" case of the article, only the first portion is coming into play.

As an aside - if you're interested in seeing how AMP works under the hood I highly recommend the Chrome Android USB debugging - I hadn't played with this before trying to figure out how AMP worked and it was really a godsend to be able to "Inspect Element" on my phone, especially because anything AMP-related is very aggressive about only AMPing to phones on cell networks.


>Good news! iOS 11 fixes this.

It doesn't fix the "crappy wrapper that wants to do its own scolling instead of complying with the system" issue though.


Well, the wrapper has the same scrolling as the rest of the system and pages now.


Yes, but still implemented non-natively -- along with all kind of other bizarro differences that might be lurking.


No, AFAIK the only reason that view had different scrolling was because it was an overflowing div which had the -webkit-overflow-scroll: touch property to give it any momentum.

This page should demonstrate the same scrolling behaviour as AMP pages on iOS, without any 'custom' non-native scrolling https://s.codepen.io/joshhunt/debug/Xgeyoo


I worked on a website that experienced this same problem several years ago. The designers were pretty insistent on a design that would require the crappy non-native scrolling, but luckily management stepped in and said no to them.

Point being, UX should dictate design, not vice-versa. If you can't implement something the way you want without messing up something as important as scrolling then don't do it.

The irony here is that the two most important features of the web are arguably URLs and scrollable pages. And AMP screwed up both of them.


It is implemented natively. It's just a scrolling div versus a scrolling page. It's not a custom scrolling implementation.


My thoughts exactly. Remember blogspot hijacking horizontal swipes? Ew!


"Remember"? It's still the case everywhere and it's obnoxious


Do you think lots of the complaints would go away if publishers could opt-out (or opt-in, but that seems more fanciful) of the CDN preloading? Obviously you'd lose those attendant benefits from the CDN, but there still seems to be a lot of gain from the spec.


Re: two products, I realized this but never really thought about it. Can one self-host an AMP (framework) implementation? Does Google still promote such content, even if it isn't part of their CDN?


Sure. It's just a stricter subset of HTML and a JS library for custom components. Self host it.

No, Google won't give you the special AMP-bolt - nor should they because they can't provide the instant load as they can for other AMP sites that they self-host on their CDN.


That's where I have trouble accepting AMP. I love the concept and Google's support would be huge, but Google doesn't seem to be truly promoting making the mobile web better with AMP. They are promoting making the mobile web better with their CDN (i.e. by centralizing/controlling the content).


I actually converted my blog (http://dangoldin.com/) a while back to be entirely in AMP. In this way I'm using the framework without caring about the CDN element.

After reading this I may just bite the bullet and remove AMP and just cut out a bunch of crap to get it optimized for lower bandwidth devices.


It could be re-implemented, it's just "web components" last I looked


I have a visual impairment and one of the things I love about Chrome on Android is the ability to override sites blocking pinch to zoom (i.e. "force enable pinch to zoom").

AMP, also made by Google, seems to somehow get around this browser setting, making AMP sites unreadable and therefore completely useless to me.

Why does Google have these obvious discrepancies between their own products?


Google's approach to design has always seemed to be to wall off a bunch of teams in separate soundproof rooms with no communication with each other, meetings, or contact with the outside world. Also they're only allowed to use iPhones.

This is the only way I can imagine we ended up with 437 different messaging apps and counting, and the problem you described.


> Also they're only allowed to use iPhones

Why is that? Seems a bit ironic...


AMP with Chrome on Android also breaks the back button on many (all) sites? If you pass through several links within a site, then hit back, Google will forget all that and dump you back to search results. Disable AMP and the problem goes away.


Funny thing is - I, as a reader, love AMP sites. If a website offers AMP, I will prefer it from normal thing.

It has less ads, less bloat, better signal/noise ratio, and the AMP websites look pleasant to eye. So I prefer them even on desktop, ironically.

I still have the issues with Google's AMP caching. But AMP itself is great.


You can use Firefox and have 0 ads with uBlock Origin.


AMP sites still look better.

I am using this simple extension that shows me when a website has AMP version and I switch to it (not sure if there is an extension that does this automatically). Doesn't work 100% though

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/amplifier-ampcanon...

edit:

oh, this one seems to do it automatically. Nice

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/%E2%9A%A1%EF%B8%8F...


The problem that the tech to make any page look like an amp page existed long before amp. But Google, rather than heavily penalising heavy websites decided to push AMP. They could have just pushed for normal HTML but no, now everybody has to write two versions of the pages. (Granted, à cms can handle generating AMP alongside RSS and so on)


Yeah, everyone can do non-bloated websites that load fast and look good, but nobody does. Market doesn't value those? I don't know.

AMP is a good idea, unfortunately it needs strong actors like Google or Twitter to push it.


Try the AMP Browser for Windows (http://ampbrowser.com) or the AMP Browser Extension for Chrome (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/amp-browser-extens...) for automatically loading AMP HTML pages, blocking ads and using Data Compression Proxy.


But then you have to suffer the UI of Firefox for Android.


I only use Firefox for Android in my case, I like their UI personally.


I'm left-handed and I can't switch tabs without using a second hand with Fx for Android. The UI also lacks polish in many places and looks really outdated and alien.


We're working on refreshing the UI this November: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1355774


Ah yes of course for left-handed people it's maybe a problem, I did not consider that...


Why would anybody enable it to begin with?

There is absolutely no reason for sites such as the one linked here to have AMP enabled. It's a pox on the web and Google has enough power as it is. The sooner AMP dies the better. If you want your site to load faster get rid of the cruft.


I enabled it on https://www.gitignore.io a few months ago because it suggested that it would improve my mobile users experience. After posts like these, I think it's time to take it back down.


Only an anecdote, but AMP trashes my mobile experience. Using Chrome on Android (so it ought to be good...) it rewrites back-button functionality, so that even after I've changed through 5 different pages, a single 'back' press takes me all the way off the site to Google search results. It also eats a bunch of screen real estate with the AMP bar for longer than the normal address bar.


Because Google promises you higher ranking in search results...


However, this is still true if you get rid of the cruft


Not strictly - apparently the top carousel of results actually mandate AMP.


There's a deep irony in AMP also, purely anecdotally it doesn't seem to help with slow connections. I'm traveling and as such my US carrier restricts me to 2G speeds while roaming somehow, which is resulting in me seeing a lot of butchered pages. As the author mentions:

> AMP tries to load an image only when it becomes visible to the user, rendering a white square instead of the image. In my experience I’ve seen it fail fairly regularly, leaving the article with an empty white square instead of the image.

Text content is very fast, but images either don't load or partially load making the reading experience pretty poor.


You're saying that AMP doesn't help with slow connections, based on AMP not loading all resources on 2G. But you're missing the data point for non-AMP pages on 2G. Are you sure it's not even worse?

It's hard to believe how bloated many modern websites are, before trying to load them over 2G. We're talking megabytes of data and tens of connections to display what should be a 20kB of text.


AMP puts 100KB of JavaScript in the initial render path, and a bunch of CSS. That doesn't mean that other sites cannot be worse but it means that there's no way to make an AMP page which doesn't require transferring at least that much data.

I notice this fairly regularly in marginal network coverage (subway tunnels/platforms) where AMP pages load no faster than any well-optimized site unless the stars are aligned and you actually get a cache hit.


Keep in mind that this AMP JS library is being loaded from the CDN only once for all AMP pages, then cached in the browser.


If that works. In my experience, you're eating the initial DNS lookup, connection and SSL setup, etc. more frequently than expected.

The general rule about inclining render-blocking resources matters here, too.


Thanks for raising this. Anecdotally text in both cases appears to render first which makes sites workable. Images are consistently the laggards. In the AMP case the text content is always reasonable (i.e. formatted well) whereas in the non-AMP case you're beholden to whatever CSS the author applies which if it's lagged can cause re-draws - which are quite jarring.


If a regular page doesn't load on a 2G connection and an AMP page doesn't load on a 2G connection.. what's the point of AMP?


Purely anecdotally it works about 20-30 times better for me. Non-anecdotally there are plenty of large scale results showing it is much faster. If you find it equal or slower you are probably an extreme exception.

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