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How to fight back against Google AMP as a web user and a web developer (markosaric.com)
1238 points by markosaric 49 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 539 comments



I worked on amp for a leading newspaper, and everyone who says that amp is about "making the web faster on mobile" is either very naive or doing marketing for google.

For publishers, amp is about trying to top the results on google search and capture traffic, it's their only motivation to publish their content using amp, and the only metric they look in order to evaluate the results.

Once they have their amp content, they will look how to load it with ads and tracking, which very conveniently is supported on amp, just as they do in their regular sites.

So the "fast" part, besides using their CDN, actually comes from limiting what you can do on almost every other part of the site, you can only do the stuff that is packed in the amp components controlled by google, which in practice means that google controls the web behavior.


Of course AMP has other motives than simply making the web faster for mobile, but it also does make the web faster for mobile. I guarantee the AMP version of that paper's mobile website provided a significantly better user experience than the normal version. That is why AMP has been successful, and it's why I will continue to click on AMP links whenever available.

Is giving Google that much control ideal? Of course not, but from a user perspective it's a hell of a lot better than the alternative.


> but it also does make the web faster for mobile.

AMP probably help making some previously bad-written amd bloated websites less slow, but it doesn't make them fast either.

HN is a fast website. The old reddit was a reasonably fast website. The new reddit (with AMP) is slower on my phone than the old one. It's still faster than the worst websites I browse on mobile, but it's far from being the fastest, and it's one of the slowest I actually use on my phone (simply because I usually don't browse websites that are too slow).

AMP isn't about speed.


> it also does make the web faster

this is true

> That is why AMP has been successful

This is not. If google removes ranking incentive, people will forget about AMP the next day


> it also does make the web faster

No, it is not. Optimized plain old webpages are faster.

If Google wants to promote faster pages then amp should not be promoted in the search results.

It is about capturing traffic, injecting tracking and ads.


>> That is why AMP has been successful

>This is not. If google removes ranking incentive, people will forget about AMP the next day

Google giving ranking incentive to sites that are faster seems like the exact sort of thing they should be doing.


> Google giving ranking incentive to sites that are faster seems like the exact sort of thing they should be doing.

Yes. It should give ranking incentive based on actual speed, not AMP support.


> Google giving ranking incentive to sites that are faster seems like the exact sort of thing they should be doing.

Really? I thought Google's purpose was to find information in the web, not to give me fast links. If I am looking for an article, I want that article, not a different but faster one. If I am looking for a piece of information, I want the best fit, not the second or third best but faster fit.


> find information in the web

This has not been true for more than a decade. The primary use case of the Internet today is to connect users with service providers of all stripes, and not just information repositories.

For most of these, the quality of service is more correlated with their "speed".


Information delivered slowly is less useful than information delivered quickly[1]. If there are 5 takes on an AP-wire article I want google to give me a fast site over a bloated slow site. The finer points of how they get to a fast site don't particularly matter to me.

[1] One of the nicer features of HN is that it is snappy and responsive - ime the polar opposite of many non-AMP news sites.


> If there are 5 takes on an AP-wire article I want google to give me a fast site over a bloated slow site.

I'd want Google to give me the accurate, well-researched site. When the difference between "fast" and "slow" is a matter of seconds (or often milliseconds), I'm not sure why better information delivered a few seconds later should be ranked lower.


Slower sites should be ranked lower for the same reason a dictionary that isn't alphabetized is less useful than one that is and both are less useful than dictionary.com. I'd rather have Webster than Oxford if Oxford will take twice as long and I'd rather not have urbandictionary.com over either -- hence a weighting.

Moreover that even if google could give me the canonical result[0] to my query its likely I will need to visit and view several sites to get the information I am searching for - information I will obtain faster when the sites are faster.

[0]Any ranking will be probabilistic and in all likelihood for common topics there will be multiple candidates within the expected error - why is it so great a sin to order them by accessibility?


Google already incorporates site speed into their rankings, separate from AMP.

However, if you want to get into Google's mobile carousel above the normal search results, you have to serve AMP pages and let Google cache them.


Except that it's now giving a huge boost to websites that use a specific technology to be fast; instead of just boosting all fast websites like it used to. Sites can be fast even if they don't use AMP.


Heck, sites can be faster if they don't use AMP. Sure, most sites aren't, but it's certainly doable. AMP, aside from Google caching your site on the SRP, doesn't really do anything crazy when it comes to site performance.


But speed results in better ranking, and that's what amp provides.


No, AMP provides space on a top carousel of results.


It may also do that, sure. But you're telling me it does not provide speed improvements?


Install a content blocker, and the original site sans bullshit is the best experience.

Ironically the amp page is artificially slow when blocking amp’s JS because they force an 8 second delay - via required boilerplate css - before content is visible.


You misunderstand the 8 second CSS animation in the AMP boilerplate. Here's the code (simplified):

  <style>
    body { animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both}
    @keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}
  </style>
  <noscript>
    <style amp-boilerplate>
      body{animation:none}
    </style>
  </noscript>
See the noscript section: if javascript is disabled, the CSS displays the body immediately. If Javascript is enabled, but for some reason the AMP javascript fails to load, after 8 seconds, the page is displayed anyway. When the AMP Javascript loads (a single js file, one request, typically already in the users cache), the javascript displays the page immediately. The page is probably somewhat broken without the javascript loading, but the 8s is a fallback, not code to slow down non-javascript browsers.

The only two cases where the 8s is relevant are: the network connection is so bad that the javascript file fails to load within 8s and the useragent has explicitly blocked the one javascript file on the page, without blocking javascript overall.


The 8-second delay is there to punish users who block JavaScript that is loaded from Google's servers (with ad-blockers) but still have JavaScript enabled.


I think that's a bit unnecessarily tin-foil-hat. If they didn't put in the 8 second css rule it would just show blank for those users right? So adding that rule is making it work at all instead which doesn't sound like "there to punish them".


Why is there an eight second delay instead of, say, an 0.8 second delay? Or no delay at all?

I mean, if the goal is to make the page display only once it's fully loaded, and the point of amp is to make pages load quickly, eight seconds seems gratuitous. Even slow sites load within eight seconds.

(I don't deliberately use any Google products, so I'm completely unfamiliar with amp.)


Reasonable question.

Until the javascript has loaded (a single cacheable javascript file: https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js ), the browser can't lay out the resources on the page (images for example).

If the browser rendered the page before layout, it would likely look pretty bad. Then when the javascript arrived, the document would layout again moving elements around. This is typically referred to as the "Flash of Unstyled Content" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_of_unstyled_content) and is considered by some to be a negative user experience. Many web pages outside AMP take a similar approach to hiding the content until the layout has completed.

The 8 second CSS animation is only present as an "escape hatch" in case the javascript never loads. The specific value was chosen as a time that probably indicates the javascript will never load. Note that if javascript is disabled entirely, the page is rendered immediately via the <noscript> tag. There has been a discussion around changing the 8 second time to something shorter ( https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml/issues/22543 ), though it could probably be renewed.


It's the other way around -- AMP pages show a blank page for 8 seconds for people with ad-blockers because of that CSS rule.


The behavior you describe occurs if the useragent blocks the URL https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js which does not have anything to do with ads or analytics.

Certainly an ad blocker can be used to block any URL, but I don't know of any that block this one by default. If there are any, let me know and I'm happy to file issues to get that fixed!

If a user chooses to block this particular resource which the page needs to load, then the page still loads after 8s.

Similarly, if the site owner chooses, they can run the AMP Toolbox optimizer (https://www.npmjs.com/package/@ampproject/toolbox-optimizer) which lays out the page server-side and removes this CSS flash for most documents. Some documents can't be laid out until the viewport size is known.


People who block JS by default but who don't want to completely turn off JavaScript encounter that 8-second delay. (I'm using "ad-blocker" loosely -- it refers to any kind of tool that blocks ads and tracking. On my computer, it's blocked at the hosts level in addition to an add-on.)

Some people don't want to load resources from Google's servers, and they shouldn't be punished for it. That JS file isn't needed for AMP pages to load. People don't need to load JS to read text and view images. I don't think there is any reasonable argument to have any users hit an 8-second delay.


Without the Javascript file, the images will not load. AMP loads images using a custom element <amp-img> which has performance benefits such as lazy loading of images until they are close to the visible viewport and guaranteeing a stable layout that will not cause the elements on the page to jump around. The downside is that until Javascript is loaded, these images are not available to the browser.


Not seeing images is better than not seeing the page at all. People who block content know that things sometimes don't load. There is no reason to block loading of the pages for 8 seconds.


You're probably not their target audience anyway (read ad money stream) so they don't really care if you have to wait on content or don't see it at all. Google et. al. just see you as a parasite on the system.


It seems like the AMP delay is there to punish people who block that JavaScript loading from Google's servers. I can't think of another reason why there would be an 8-second delay for any user of a technology that (dubiously) is supposed to be about speed.


Couldn't this be solved by the adblockers by injecting some JS to change this?


I solve it with a browser extension that redirects AMP to HTML, but that solution might not last forever.

One problem is that Google wants AMP to replace HTML. I've already seen AMP pages in the Google search results (on desktop), and at least one large website so far appears to be built entirely in AMP.[1]

Google already sends desktop users to Wikipedia's mobile site from some of their listings, so I wouldn't be surprised if Google eventually starts to send desktop users to AMP pages. Google benefits when people visit AMP sites, because Google will be able to spoof the domains and serve the content themselves, giving them increased control over publishers.

[1] independent.co.uk, but they removed the CSS that delays page loading.


there's a good reason for that because if you don't google can track you everywhere by IP, or at least have a reasonable guess that it's you or someone in your house.


The AmpProject is without question controlled by Google, so I reject your claim that it "does not have anything to do with ads or analytics".

The company is an advertising company. If 90+% of your revenue comes from one thing, that's what you are. Anything else is a gimmick.

That tech fanboys continue to ignore or refute this fact about Google just shows how much Kool aid they've consumed, I assume by skipping the drinking part and going straight to Kool Aid baths and Kool aid enemas.

Blocking third party resources on a site is not a "bug" that needs to be "fixed".


This will hit a lot of people on the web today that have given up on a blanket block on JS (because a lot of pure text content simply fails to render without JS, yaaaaay) but do have a blanket blacklist on JS assets and whitelist requests on a need basis.


As intended. We desperately need some anticompetitive scrutiny on google.

Unfortunately... https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000067823


Source for your second paragraph: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16730905

That's out of date now, though; despite still being part of the required boilerplate CSS for AMP pages, I can't find that delay in any of the https://amp.dev/ pages (the ampbyexample.com replacement demo site).

This is really shady.


It's a little more complex than that:

If you disable all js, there is no delay. If you specifically block amp js, there is a delay. There could certainly be a shady reason for this, but the justification makes sense: one of the goals of AMP is to have, basically, a single, correct, initial paint. That's why images are statically sized and amp sticks placeholders there until the real images load. The js delay exists to allow the site to fetch the js and use it to correctly render the initial paint, even on a slow/flaky connection where the js takes a bit to fetch.


The delay is css based not js based, so why would blocking all js affect it?


If you tell the browser to disable execution of all <script> tags, it will instead evaluate the <noscript> tag which contains some additional CSS that disables the animation.


Ah, I didn't realise/remember it has a noscript block, it's been a while since I dug into the issue originally.


Sites which optimize their pages via https://www.npmjs.com/package/@ampproject/toolbox-optimizer have the initial layout performed server-side instead of by javascript, and thus the CSS Flash-of-unstyled-content protection is removed. amp.dev runs this optimization, along with lots of other sites.


Does it really make the web faster for mobile? I've had the exact opposite experience with it. It's made sites run much slower, broken things like dark themes, and make advertisements more intrusive. For example, I used to think the game guide/news site polygon was a horrible slow mess until I learned about amp, I was accessing it via google search, and once I excised the amp portion of the url the site became snappy and usable. The same exact thing happened to me two nights ago with SoundOnSound as well.


> a lot better than the alternative

There are more alternatives. IIRC the goal in 56k days was to make the page load inside 10 seconds. People managed.


It was probably 5 seconds, to maximize conversion. Thankfully, I haven't had to think about it for 10+ years.


HTTP/2, HTTP/3, 5G, faster mobile phones, will all make AMP inconsequential and unnecessary, unless your primary audience lives in rural areas or are not able to adopt such technologies.

Applications used to fit on a floppy disk. Websites used to be a few K in size. AMP might be successful (if it's even considered successful), but only for a short while. I avoid AMP links when I can, since I don't want the jank, stripped down experience of a site. If I really want a great experience on publishing sites, I just turn on Reader Mode.

And of course, it's preposterous that Google gives preferences to AMP pages on search rankings. It's just as if Amazon prioritizes its own products in its search rankings (not saying it does or doesn't).


Exactly, use google amp and get higher rankings and it can increase your traffic by hundreds to thousands to millions. I hate it but its how it works


Huh, weird, it's almost like they're abusing their search monopoly to push a technology that everyone hates and is only fast when compared to their ad monopoly.


> a technology that everyone hates

There are users in this thread that seem to like it quite a lot because it's faster than the original site, because it limits the amount of crap the original site can run. The only reason I don't like AMP is because I don't like an intermediary like Google rendering pages for me and probably tracking what I do on them. That's ... not even close to something on most people's radars, so there's no way "everyone" hates it for that reason.

I suspect most people have never heard of AMP and just like it when sites load fast.


Higher rankings and google will preload the amp page they have and their servers for the amp link. That's why it is a tiny bit faster. It has nothing to do with the amp spec itself. It's faster because google is abusing it's monopoly search position to pre-load.


I think the idea is that preloading wouldn't be feasible with arbitrary unrestricted HTML because of security concerns, which is why they created this restricted subset in the first place.


> google is abusing it's monopoly search position to pre-load.

How is that abusing their monopoly search position? Abusing their monopoly search position would be making publishers integrate directly with them to enable preload, like Apple News. Instead, they ask publishers to serve documents that can safely be prerendered, and all their competitors get to (and do!) consume those documents as well to enable safe prerendering from their own sites.


Without their monopoly search position no one would be forced to adopt amp and further strengthen said monopoly position.


> Without their monopoly search position no one would be forced to adopt amp

It is used by the major search engines in every major market, so yes, they would be forced to adopt AMP. Compare to Apple News, which gives the publisher even less control.

Once again, how is it abusing their monopoly position if all their competitors get to benefit from it for free?

Finally, how do you propose to enable safe prerendering on the web that you would be fine with? RSS enables the same thing but takes even more control away from the publisher, but you're presumably fine with that. Not a single person in all these AMP rant articles that pollute HN has ever proposed an alternative, with 99% of the ranters, including this one, not even understanding the basic fact that prerendering is the thing that AMP enables.


I don’t want prerendering if it comes with this attached to it. Fast pages don’t need prerendering.


Tell that to Apple, Facebook, and RSS aggregators, all of which do the same thing but worse. Whether or not you want it, I and apparently most other users do want it.


As has been mentioned before, what Apple, Facebook, and RSS aggregators are doing is quite different than what Google is: they're not purporting to be search engines.


And how is that any different? The end result is they're forcing publishers to use their format.


If you don't want Apple News formatted content, don't use the Apple News client.

The web is supposed to be an open standard.

If Google wants to go off and make Google Web a thing, where it only allows Chrome to view content hosted by some variation of *.google.com, thats their choice, but that isn't "the web".


> If you don't want Apple News formatted content, don't use the Apple News client.

If you don't want AMP content, don't click on it from Google, Bing, Yandex, Twitter, etc. Exactly the same idea.

> It only allows Chrome to view content hosted by some variation of *.google.com

That is not what AMP does. It allows browsers to safely prerender content from any link aggregator, including Bing and others. It does not change what Chrome can do. The page is just a normal HTML page served by the link aggregator's AMP cache.


Why does safe prerendering need to break URLs? Why can't the pages be safely prerendered client side?


> Why does safe prerendering need to break URLs?

Think about how you would implement safe prerendering. Can you come up with any option where the link aggregator doesn't host the page? There's your answer.


How does amp strengthen a monopoly position?


"Use AMP or your site will not be present in mobile search results" doesn't seem like monopolistic practices to you?


A priori not anymore so than otherwise downranking slow sites. The missing piece here is how using amp is beneficial to Google or harmful to consumers/other search engines to make it anticompetative.


> how using amp is beneficial to Google

You are correct, most people are leaving this out. I think an emphasis on asking why Google is pushing AMP, and whether that interest aligns with consumers, would be helpful in this thread.


Most people seem to intrinsically understand that a single browser-making ad company dictating what features a website can or can not use is about that company flexing it's muscles to control things.

Is that really not obvious to some?


> Most people seem to intrinsically understand that a single browser-making ad company dictating what features a website can or can not use is about that company flexing it's muscles to control things.

But the point made up-thread was that "controlling things" is not intrinsically bad. The problem was that (according to some users) Google was abusing a monopoly position to control things in a way that would be beneficial to itself, but harmful to others. The question the parent to my comment was asking was, beneficial to itself how? You saying that Google is "controlling things" just takes us back to where we started, but doesn't answer the question of what Google stands to gain.

Let me give an example. Suppose by "controlling things" you mean incentivizing ("""forcing""") web developers to create pages that are better because they have lighter scripts and higher security standards for third party content. (In fact, this is what some supporters say Google is doing.) I don't think most people would have a problem with that. So presumably critics have something interesting to say about what "controlling things" really means that explains why it's bad in this particular case.


> But the point made up-thread was that "controlling things" is not intrinsically bad

Well that point is wrong. If you can't see how a single, privacy abusing company having dominant control over the web is bad, I can't fucking help you.


> a single, privacy abusing company having dominant control over the web is bad

I agree that that's bad. I also don't think you (or most people in this thread) have made coherent arguments for why AMP is helping Google do that. That was the parent comment's point, and I tried to highlight that because it's downvoted.

Note that "control things" is a different claim than "having dominant control over the web". It's obvious that in some sense Google is doing the first. It's obvious that the second is bad. The issue is how you get from saying that they're doing the first thing to saying that they're doing the second thing.

Google has a monopoly position, granted. But not everything a monopolist does is bad just because they're a monopolist. Another example: one thing Google does is lower the page rank of sites that show the full content to the GoogleBot but paywall real users. I think this is great! It's an attempt to control the way publishers design websites and the way their servers respond to user agents, but the point of that control is making the web a better place. Many people feel similarly about AMP: that it's getting publishers to create faster pages that make the web a better place. Can you say why they're wrong?


It strengthens googles control over the web.


In what way though? Like that's super generic and not particularly meaningful without a more concrete explanation.


No, there's nothing like super generic about it.

Google has a de facto monopoly on site rankings, which gives it de facto editorial control over the content of the Internet down to a very fine level.

If Google decides to drop a site from search, that site loses traffic and is effectively removed from visibility.

This is not a user choice. Users do not to get to say "Well, that site is too slow for me, so I won't visit it again. And actually I don't like the content either."

It's not a site owner choice. Owners can't respond to user preferences by improving performance or offering different content.

It's a Google choice. And the reasons for Google's choices are typically opaque, largely unstated, and never negotiated directly with site owners.

It's absolutely unacceptable for a single unaccountable corporation to have this level level of control over global information infrastructure.

In fact the whole idea of generic but opaque site ranking is toxic to an open Internet, and always has been. The idea that page rank has some kind of objective user value - as opposed to monopoly value - has always been debatable.

It was tolerable conceit in the days of Alta Vista when search was a research project, and some level of good faith was assumed.

But Google has trashed that good faith by operating like a bad actor - and monopolist - in numerous ways, AMP being the most recent example.

So no - not generic. Not even close.


What you're arguing against is opaque site rankings. But what does that have to do with AMP as a technology? How does AMP enable them to have more opaque rankings than before? All the control you're talking about is something they'd have regardless of the existence of AMP.


AMP is an example of the bad faith exercising of that monopoly. Bad faith because we judge it by the negative press: there is considerable push back and controversy, yet it remains. That alone separates it from other factors like “actual page speed”, which is also used but which everyone agrees with, which is why it’s considered good faith.

No need to judge it based on its technical merit: a significant amount of people hate it, yet here it is. End of.

This is not a legal question (yet), this is a moral question. The legal [and technical] question is relevant, but not the be all end all of any discussion. People sometimes also just want to discuss how they feel. It’s relevant to get consensus about that. And people feel bad about AMP.


Yes it's true that they forced AMP despite some people not wanting it (and I think you are greatly overestimating the fraction of customers that actually care about this either way). But you know what they say, ask customers what they want and they'll say a faster horse. I don't think there's anything wrong or immoral about going against the current wishes of your customers to further the long term wishes of your customers instead.

That is much different than saying that Google is using AMP to make it easier to control results which was what the parent seemed to be implying. If this discussion is really not about AMP at all, but just about Google flexing their monopoly to do things customers don't want, then why is AMP the technology getting criticized for it? Why weren't we criticizing using SSL everywhere when Google depriortitzed non-SSL results?


It's cute that you think people either searching on Google, or people/organisations with organic results shown on Google are their "customers".

I mean it's also naive, and wrong, but it's cute too.


Give this tired quip a break. You don't have to be spending dollars to be a considered a customer, that's not what customer means.


It literally means a person who purchases something.

No sane person on the planet would consider a person using a search engine for free, "the customer". The customer is the person who buys something - in Google's case, advertising.


Right, and users of the engine aren't using it for free. They're paying in ad impressions.


Ad impressions are like shares. They're only valuable if someone is actually paying real money for them somewhere.


Traffic never leaving Google's servers seems pretty concrete.


You can self host AMP. It doesn’t have to be on google’s servers.


But the traffic coming from Google results will always view it from Google servers.


Apple isn’t running a dominant search engine that upranks Apple News results.


You're right. Apple is worse. They show only Apple News results.


But there's a difference between having a service which only shows your stuff, and having a service which apparently shows the entire internet, but subtly prefers your stuff. Most people find the latter far more questionable than the former, because if we want to find anything, we need to know where to look.


> but subtly prefers your stuff.

It prefers instant loading pages because that's what users want. If not, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, Yahoo, or any of the other search engines that also use AMP would simply rank differently to beat Google.


The things that's being discussed though is that even if your page loads in "no time" AMP will be perfered anyways, even if your page loads fast enough that the user wont notice a difference.


There is no fast enough that a user won't notice the difference between that and instant, especially due to RTT for the request. That's why I always click on results with the lightning icon, and that's what I figure enough other users do too in order for AMP pages to rank so highly. If that's not the case, the other search engines can rank differently to beat Google, as I said.


No, I'm well aware that that's what it's "about," just like I'm well aware that the search engine is mainly about advertising. I just don't care what it's about so long as the results are beneficial to me -- which they definitely are. When I see the AMP icon I know the page is going to load much faster


Always question what long term loss you are taking for these short term gains.


I really wish content servers considered that before letting all their sites become ad laden wastelands.

The web infrastructure we have today can respond to pages blindly fast if proper optimization is done, bloated front end frameworks and malvertising counter all of that to draw it down to molasses speeds - and the "I want to server my stuff to my users" argument is only valid if it's to extracting ad revenue from them - I think it's just time to reeducate people on the fact that ads may subsidize content but they can't fully sponsor it outside of niche situations.


I suspect I am not losing very much at all by preferring to click AMP links.


Are we going to lose high-quality paid by the reader content? Probably not, because that already happened to the newspapers. They were replaced by the "get a view at any cost, track the user through all means possible, it's all about eyeballs on ads" folks and now they are warning us that they might be next and we, the readers, should decline reading the low quality fast.


The long term loss for short term gains that we're already dealing with has been the page bloat over the past decade.

AMP is the solution to that long-term loss. It's not the best possible solution, but it's the best that we currently have.

Prior to AMP, the web didn't give a rat's ass about performance.


To me, AMP is annoying because it means I have to make two extra clicks to get the real site to load.


use duckduckgo! :)


> I just don't care what it's about so long as the results are beneficial to me -- which they definitely are.

Are they though? With the search engine example, how do you know that the engine is not biasing your opinion so that you act against your own self-interest and to the benefit of the advertisers?

The AMP situation is a bit more complicated, but how are you sure that AMP is beneficial to you in the broad, long-term sense?


It is quite simple. My calculation is: 1) an AMP page will load much faster 2) clicking on an AMP or non-AMP page will have nearly no effect on me in the "broad, long-term sense;" to the extent AMP more generally may adversely affect me, my own personal participation in it has pretty much no impact at all.


I invite you to go to your local Fox/ABC/CBS channel's website and TRY to read an article vs AMP.

AMP is about stopping....that. It's indescribable how horrible these companies have become.

1. Auto-playing ads 2. Scroll-jacking 3. Overlay...after overlay... after overlay. 4. Popover 5. Paywall 6. Popover again for good taste. 7. Oops you scrolled too far better redirect you to another page entirely. 8. You wanted the video version of this article right? Better force you to read the article in 20% of the screen so all of our ads, bars, and video can fit on the page.


This doesn't address those problems, it has effectively created a second, proprietary web which is only accessible from the Google home page.

If Google actually wanted to improve the web, they wouldn't be splintering it, they would reward publishers with better search placement for building user-friendly sites. As it is, AMP is little more than a way to ensure the "Google" web is better than the non-Google web. Which of course funnels money into Google's pockets.


AMP pages are just HTML. Publishers can and do use AMP pages as their "regular" pages that every user sees, not just those coming from Google. Other aggregators (Bing, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) link to AMP versions. These pages are far from only accessible from Google queries.


Publishers can and some do, but from what I've seen, the overwhelming majority do not. The overwhelming majority of "modern" web-sites are a shit show. If that wasn't the case, there would be no need for AMP.


If they’re just HTML pages, why would I use AMP?


Because, as you have repeatedly shown you already know, AMP pages are a constrained HTML that supports safe prerendering. Why ask a question you already know the answer to?


> AMP pages are a constrained HTML that supports safe prerendering

Then they're not HTML, are they? As other commenters have pointed out, nobody is using the constrained set of AMP as their main page, precisely because it's not "just HTML". (And specifically, Google controls which subset of HTML this is.)


> Then they're not HTML, are they?

A square has four sides that are equal length. Does that make it not a rectangle?

> As other commenters have pointed out, nobody is using the constrained set of AMP as their main page

People don't use squares where they need oblong rectangles, but that doesn't mean squares are not rectangles.

> And specifically, Google controls which subset of HTML this is.

No, the technical steering committee of the AMP project at the OpenJS Foundation determines that. Most of the members of that committee do not work for Google.


> People don't use squares where they need oblong rectangles, but that doesn't mean squares are not rectangles.

You're omitting the context of that quote for trite point-scoring. If I was advertised a browser that "supported HTML" I would very reasonably expect that it had a reasonable set of features, perhaps score well on compatibility benchmarks, and in general make an effort to conform to the relevant standards. If all it did was render <p> tags it would still be technically correct (it supports HTML!) but I would rightfully be less than pleased.

> No, the technical steering committee of the AMP project at the OpenJS Foundation determines that. Most of the members of that committee do not work for Google.

As I have pointed out to you previously (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20731535; I regret the typo), Google has extremely strong control over the Technical Steering Committee; while you are again correct to claim that they do not have a majority position, it would require unanimous coalition of every other member to oppose them.


> If I was advertised a browser

AMP is not a browser. It is HTML markup. Likewise, nobody claimed that AMP contains all of HTML. By deliberately misconstruing what AMP is, you are the one who is fruitlessly engaging in trite point scoring.

> it would require unanimous coalition of every other member to oppose them.

As I have also pointed out before, their goal is to have even fewer Google members on that committee. Already, anything that benefits only Google would be shot down. Compare to Apple News, which is controlled entirely by Apple or FBIA, controlled entirely by Facebook, or RSS which is no longer updated at all.


> AMP is not a browser. It is HTML markup.

Nowhere did I say it was: I was providing an example of a case where technically classifying something correctly may not be what people expect, except I used HTML in my example instead of shapes in an attempt to connect better to the topic at hand.

> nobody claimed that AMP contains all of HTML

The (now somewhat distant) ancestor claimed that AMP is powerful enough to use as essentially a replacement for HTML, and that publishers can use this subset exclusively for all their content. To which I (and others) have counterclaimed that it is not, because we have not seen publishers move to it, which means it is lacking something that HTML is giving them.

> By deliberately misconstruing what AMP is

That was not my intention, and I apologize if I came off that way.

> As I have also pointed out before, their goal is to have even fewer Google members on that committee. Already, anything that benefits only Google would be shot down.

Perhaps you know more about this than I do, but I have seen little movement in this direction or confirmation that Google is divesting themselves of control here.

> Compare to Apple News, which is controlled entirely by Apple or FBIA, controlled entirely by Facebook, or RSS which is no longer updated at all.

You keep bringing this up, but I don't see widespread complaints about Apple News or Facebook Instant Articles (and RSS is beloved to almost everyone I know). I think the key point here is intent: these sources are very clear in what they're doing, how they're doing, and I don't think they feel as "forced" to adopt it.


> I have seen little movement in this direction or confirmation that Google is divesting themselves of control here.

"The TSC shall have a goal of having no more than 1/3 of the TSC from one employer."

https://amp.dev/community/governance/

This is required to graduate from incubation at OpenJS.

"Have a defined governing body of at least 5 or more members (owners and core maintainers), of which no more than 1/3 is affiliated with the same employer."

https://github.com/openjs-foundation/cross-project-council/b...

> You keep bringing this up, but I don't see widespread complaints about Apple News or Facebook Instant Articles (and RSS is beloved to almost everyone I know).

Which is why I keep bringing it up. Each of those is worse than AMP at solving the same problems that AMP solves, but only AMP gets the rants from people who don't even know what problem AMP solves. They all "force" publishers to use them in exactly the same way.


[flagged]


Any AMP page can be HTML5 compliant. AMP doesn't require that the page pass an HTML5 validator, but is entirely compatible with HTML5.

JavaScript and Web Components are part of the HTML5 standard. This is simply the Extensible Web (https://www.w3.org/community/nextweb/2013/06/11/the-extensib...)

My profile discloses that I work on AMP.


Since you work on AMP, can you please disclose why Google results call the AMP carousel “Top Stories,” when indeed it’s not the top stories, but the top _AMP_ stories? Please create a ticket that instructs engineers to immediately change this nomenclature to either “Top AMP Stories” or start allowing non-Amp pages to appear in this carousel. This is misleading to users of Google.


Presumably, the people who work on the AMP spec are different from the people who work on Google search (or for that matter, Bing search, Yandex search, or any other search engine that consumes AMP). I doubt he has any control over how search results are ranked or presented.


That's the main problem with AMP. For any issue that AMP is the cause of the AMP team goes: "not our problem, ask the people who implement a specific feature".

Plausible deniability and all that.


Do you have any examples? Also, in what way is search ranking a problem of the AMP team?


> Any AMP page can be HTML5 compliant.

They are not compliant by default.

> This is simply the Extensible Web

That gets exclusive preferential treatment by Google.

It's not "just HTML".


Google is capable of driving SERP and carousel position based on the performance of the site. They don't need AMP for that. AMP is very much about creating an semi-walled garden. Any performance benefit is the lovely exterior of the Trojan horse.


And has been. Look at how well that worked for mobile web.


Sorry, "has been" what?

You mean Google is using performance, in a meaningful way, to drive SERP and Carousel placement?

If so, I disagree. They talk about it. They don't do it in a way that drives behaviour. They could.

A significant drop plus a webmaster tools message that says why, would work.


No kidding

Despite all the claims that AMP is only faster because of preload, if you actually look at these HTML sites on big news orgs they are MONSTROSITIES. Check out dev tools, the number of network requests is wild. The page is so insanely dynamic do old / slow computers even run it well?

From script size to dome/paint reflows etc etc to third party javascript having total access to your page - much of that is limited with AMP. I think third party javascript is forced into an iframe sandbox, can only be async with a web worker, limited in size acrosss ALL scripts etc.


> 3. Overlay...after overlay... after overlay.

amp-sticky-ad, amp-video-docking, amp-app-banner

> 4. Popover

amp-fx-flying-carpet

> 5. Paywall

amp-access, amp-access-poool

> 7. Oops you scrolled too far better redirect you to another page entirely.

amp-next-page

> 8. You wanted the video version of this article right? Better force you to read the article in 20% of the screen so all of our ads, bars, and video can fit on the page.

amp-sticky-ad, amp-video-docking


Can probably solve all of that by switching off Javascript.


uBlock Origin and uMatrix can give you the AMP experience without AMP, but the vast majority of users won't use them. I see the need for AMP but it just enables these bad corporate websites, as if CNN/FOX/Quora etc. can't afford to clean up their pages.

It would be better to just completely penalize blogs that paywall or otherwise make content unreadable. It's not like news articles are ever scarce. I don't know what they're doing as a search engine if I get any results that are this opaque.


Serious question: what else those websites are supposed to do (that AMP does not provide) with all those megabytes of scripts?

Newspapers display a text and an image and very rarely an interactive content(Election day maps and charts, mostly).

Is there a reason FROM USERS PERSPECTIVE to have different website codebase for each publisher?

For years the Web community kept creating new JavaScript libraries every day and all these web libraries were about providing a different way to do the same thing. No one ever created anything for the users, in fact, AMP is the first web technology that improves the user experience. It's loading fast and not too much stuff happens to display a text and an image.

Web people are mad at Google and I think they should be but all this happens because the web publishers refuse to compete on User Experience. They all optimize for the clickbitiest title or controversial topic and Google came and steamrolled their publishing tech.

I can't really blame Google for this one, you can check it out - I am critical of Google but I am more critical of the news business or the web tech community that optimized for very bad KPI that destroyed democracy, made web unpleasant and are now crying because of someone demolished their low-quality business.

From USERS PERSPECTIVE, AMP is a godsend. You can quickly view and skim low-quality content. The alternative is slowly viewing and skimming low-quality content.

It seems like the web technologists are unaware that they are dealing with real human beings, optimizing blindly for page views and CPMs.

AMP is Youtube for written content. A strealined conent delivery platform prioritizing UX that the publishers failed to create themselves all these years.


I’m just annoyed at my links being hijacked. When I click a link, my intention is to visit someone’s page, not to view it through some sort of creepy iframe. When I go to share a link, why is it a google link instead of the newspaper? Why do I have to spend a minute or two hunting for the real one in the ugly ui?


I agree with this, I don’t want to share AMP links because it feels wrong for some reason. Still, on the right top corner there’s a share button that would give you the link to the original source.


Publishers who implement Signed Exchanges get AMP links directly to their site with no iframe viewer on browsers that support the technology: https://amp.dev/documentation/guides-and-tutorials/optimize-...

https://github.com/WICG/webpackage/blob/master/explainer.md


Doing a thing and then offering a service or agreement to undo the thing is not the same as never doing a thing and is usually a pretty clear signal of some underhanded doingness.


Is “browsers that support the technology” interchangeable with “Google chrome”?


[flagged]


Personal attacks will get you banned here, so please don't post like this. We've asked you more than once, including https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19811041.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Edit: between the parent comment and these, you were outright harassing another user:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21716790

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21716648

And you did it here too:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21716607

This is bannable behavior on HN. I'm not going to ban you because not only have you posted good comments to HN recently, one of them was an Aleksander Blok translation. That's first rate. But please don't do anything like the above in the future.

It's important for HN that people be able to discuss their work, or their employers, without being harangued. Should they disclose it? Sure, in principle and when appropriate, but that doesn't mean every comment has to include it like boilerplate. The range of appropriateness has some elasticity. Neither gregable nor joshuamorton was out of line (anyone can just check their profiles). Your attacks on them were out of line though.

Using people's employment information to attack them just disincentivizes them to participate in threads that they probably know a lot about, since most of us are experts in what we work on. That's a really bad tradeoff for HN, so users need to pull their punches.

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

dmitriid 48 days ago [flagged]

The fact that these users work for Google and/or on the AMP team is stated in their profiles. However, as is almost universally the case, they never disclose it in the AMP discussions. And how many people go and check other users' profiles?

This is important info considering the moral and technical gray area of AMP. We've seen members of the AMP team discuss AMP "in good faith" here while shutting down any questions and discussions on all AMP-controlled venues (GitHub issues, mailing list etc.).


Plenty of users check other users' profiles, just as you did.

I don't know about AMP discussions elsewhere, but HN is certainly not shutting them down. We've had two huge threads in the last two days (this one and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21703345), and half a dozen other ones this year alone. That makes it an extremely well-covered topic here. In fact, HN moderators usually downweight threads that relitigate already-well-covered topics, and we do that less in this case. Most likely there are many HN users who are tired of these AMP debates, since they're not used to seeing so much repetition here.

Debate is fine, attacking other users breaks the site guidelines, we ban accounts that do that, please don't.


Fair enough!

I heed your warning!


> From USERS PERSPECTIVE, AMP is a godsend.

This right here.

The first time I found myself on an AMP page, I thought "Holy crap, this page is fast and responsive!"

It was a couple months later I started seeing hate for AMP on HN and was kind of surprised. I understand the dislike of Google basically taking over, but I feel like Google is telling publishers "Since you guys can't figure out how to make fast web pages, we're gonna basically do it for you".

> AMP is Youtube for written content.

A few commenters have taking issue with this, but I interpreted it to mean early YouTube. Before YouTube became a thing, sharing videos online was difficult for a non-technical person. Just like YouTube made it easy to share videos, AMP has made it easy to make responsive pages.

Though a key difference is that it isn't hard to make responsive mobile web pages. Site owners have just decided that tracking, metrics, and advertising is more important than UX.


from USERS PERSPECTIVE, amp is meh. yes it's faster, does it really matter if you re getting an article in 1 second when you -obviously- plan to spend 2 minutes reading it? i dont know anyone who thinks so, perhaps your USERS do

> A strealined conent delivery platform prioritizing UX that the publishers failed to create

what you re implying is, Google failed to improve their algorithms to bypass obvious SEOs, so they are forcing everyone to use a dumbed down platform that is harder to SEO - for now!


Actually, it's a pretty well-known fact that users leave websites if they are not loading fast.

People don't go with reading plans to websites, the titles are optimized to bring you there and you don't know what's in the article. More often than not, the text on the website is not what the title made you believe it is. You can't plan ahead, you want to quickly find out what is this all about.

The article themselves are usually garbage optimized for SEO, long paragraphs of sentences that say the same thing but with different keywords. If that's not enough, they try to sway attention with ads and popups. Even if you had a plan about reading an article, the publisher's plan about you is different(tip: it's not about letting you read in peace).

The Web is horrible, it's even more horrible on mobile. AMP is an improvement.


Actually, it's a pretty well-known fact that users leave websites if they are not loading fast.

Is it? The only place I've ever seen push that view is Google. I've never seen any non-Google information reflecting that.


A few references listed in this article: https://www.cloudflare.com/learning/performance/why-site-spe...

- Mobify found that decreasing their homepage's load time by 100 milliseconds resulted in a 1.11% uptick in session-based conversion

- Retailer AutoAnything experienced a 12-13% increase in sales after cutting page load time in half

- Walmart discovered that improving page load time by one second increased conversions by 2%


those statements sound like incredible cherrypicking

does 1.11% sound a lot an is it statistically significant?

cut page in half from what to what? from 30 to 15 seconds? or from 2 to 1?

improving one second like how? from 12 to 11 or from 2 to 1? and is 2% really substantial?


Large companies spend a LOT of money trying to increase conversions by even tenths of a percent. Yes, 2% is substantial.


yeah , large companies. like , the 50-100 top sites right? Why would everybody else care about minor speed improvements


I too am skeptical- except in extreme cases. Maybe if it's some sort of mindless bullshit site that I'm not really interested in I would leave it if it didn't load in, say, 5 seconds. But I don't really give a shit about the bullshit web. Life would be better without that anyway (except, of course, for companies who make a living selling ads on such sites).

But if somebody's leaving a page that has content they need because it doesn't load in 1 second, then I'd say they're a dumbass.


> users leave websites if they are not loading fast

then google is doing a bad job of presenting these sites to users, since obviously these sites should lose their rank, since users leave them. Google surely thinks bounce rates are important, no?

> The article themselves are usually garbage optimized for SEO, long paragraphs of sentences

and how is AMP fixing this? and who is responsible for SEO having these incentives? SEO literally means they optimize for what google wants


They do lose ranks[0].

AMP is fixing this because you can take a peek into the content almost instantaneously so you can just see what is this all about and leave.

https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2018/07/search-ads...


i don't see why any webmaster would want users who "peek instantaneously and leave". what a waste of an http request


It's sometimes a little faster but also considerably less functional. The Guardian and Reddit both have AMP pages that are much worse than the actual pages.


> if you re getting an article in 1 second when you -obviously- plan to spend 2 minutes reading it?

In my experience, 99.9 percentile is more like 2~30 seconds in NorCal with a potentially sub-optimal ISP. I expect this to be even worse in developing countries like south/southeast asia.


You clearly don't speak for the users in the developing world with bad connections. Speed is anything but irrelevant.


Google AMP mostly just reduces the latency by pre-loading the pages from Google Search results. That has the side-effect of increasing the traffic on networks using Google Search when Google AMP results come up on the Google Search results, which they probably will given that using Google AMP will improve the site's Google Search ranking.

I haven't benchmarked it, so I can't actually speak from anything but wild speculation, but Google AMP might actually be making this problem worse.


I gave it a try. So I searched for "Trump" in Safari mobile, the result page loaded 2.5mb. It loaded a bit more when I clicked on an AMP article and kept loading more as I jump from article to article. It did not load any data without me switching to the next article.

After 10 articles, the transferred data was 28MB. I visited the Guardian's own website and it fetched 3MB.

So, It looks like Google does not preload a huge amount of data.

ps: I use ad-blocking and cleaned the cache.


How are you able to look at how much data was transferred on Safari mobile? As far as I know you can't access dev tools on mobile. Did you just change the User Agent on your computer to simulate?


You can! You can use the desktop Safari to connect to your iPhone's Safari and access full developer tools.

Just connect your iPhone to a Mac, open Safari desktop and in the Develop menu, you will see your mobile phone. When you open a page on mobile Safari, you will be able to see it from the Develop menu and when you click on it, the full Safari developer tools will open in a new window. Works just like the regular developer tools.


I do know it preloads on Chrome on Android on mobile networks, but it's a little surprising that it doesn't on Safari on iOS.


I know it's not kosher to complain about downvotes but I said nothing about AMP, just argued against the statement that users don't care about speed. Anything that could possibly be interpreted in Google's favor gets downvoted immediately. It's carpet bombing with collateral damage.


slow users everywhere are better served with the simple amphtml page without any of google's scripts

The major problem is the download size anyway, and most of it is google-served ads and trackers. Amp is making this asynchronous, but afaik it doesn’t get rid of the ads


AMP is Youtube for written content. A strealined conent delivery platform prioritizing UX that the publishers failed to create themselves all these years.

Do you pay for youtube? Because the vanilla youtube experience is an ad-ridden UX nightmare.

If AMP is YouTube, AMP sucks.


I use adblocking on Safari(mobile and desktop), so the web experience for me is very good. On the iPhone App, the ads are annoying but I do understand that this is how the content is paid for, so I am O.K. with it.

The main difference is that with many websites things jump around when on Youtube the design is clearly defined. There's no cognitive load in trying to find the content between those "subscribe" popups and menus etc.

They clearly designed their experience with the understanding that you are there to watch a video.

Actually, YouTube's website is so good that the first thing that appears on the page is the video and it starts playing when the rest of the page(like, subscribe buttons suggested videos etc.) is still loading and not rendered.

Most websites on the other hand act as if the content was the bite to lure you there and try to make you subscribe/create an account/ allow notifications/show you ads and it's their failure if you actually happen to consume the content that was promised to you from the link you clicked.

Completely different experiences.


What's the point of praising youtube's UX if you're blocking part of it?


I'm blocking ads on all the websites, my content blocker is not youtube-only. Still, other websites suck and Youtube is great because UX is not just about ads.


> The alternative is slowly viewing and skimming low-quality content.

No, the alternative is quickly skimming low-quality content with an adblocker and reader mode.


AMP is fast because it prerenders. That is the main point of AMP, and you seemingly don't understand it after working on it. It amazes me how little developers understand their platforms these days.


You may consider that we do understand pre-render, but don't like the trade-off involved.

A full on AOL style walled garden could be even faster. It could mandate brotli, force a common css base, only offer one kind of ad platform, etc. Should we go there?


The person I was responding to said that AMP was fast for a reason other than prerendering. That's wrong. Prerendering is the main point of AMP, which is what I pointed out in my comment.

A full AOL style walled garden is what Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles are. AMP enables the same speed in a way that any link aggregator can take advantage of without having to strike deals with individual publishers.


I agree with your literal statements, but Google does abuse AMP. The way they hijack left/right swipe and the back button for carousel loaded pages is ample evidence for me. It's very clearly not my content any more when you steal the top X pixels and hijack user interactions.

AMP also requires I include a Google owned and controlled piece of JavaScript that they can change at any time. That's literally in the "standard". In fact, a bad update borked all AMP pages for quite a while some time ago.


> The way they hijack left/right swipe and the back button for carousel loaded pages

This doesn't happen for me on any of my Android browsers. The problem is likely with your browser. I wouldn't be surprised if Chrome on iOS is buggy just like every other browser available for iOS.

> AMP also requires I include a Google owned and controlled piece of JavaScript that they can change at any time

If you don't want your page to load instantly from Google, Bing, and other link aggregators, don't use it. Same with Apple News, which has more ornery integration requirements. I, as a user, will simply skip over your links to find faster ones. If you don't give users what they want, what do you expect will happen?


> This doesn't happen for me on any of my Android browsers.

They're talking about a feature built into Safari on iOS that allows you to swipe between pages from the left and right edges of the screen. Since all browsers on iOS use Safari as the base, they will inherit this behavior unless they take specific steps to disable it, which most don't.

AMP breaks that behavior and although I don't use it, many many people on iOS do and are accustomed to it.


Yeah...my Google controlled browser that has dominant market share. Don't think Google wouldn't hijack on other browsers if they thought they could get away with it.


"If you don't want your page to load instantly from Google"

Right. Would be a shame if somethin' bad were to happen to my little website, eh Vinnie?


Please don't cross into personal attack. Your comment would be fine with just the first sentence, or if it stopped before "you seemingly". There's no need for supercilious disses of "developers" either.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


That soyyo, like the article's author, seemingly does not understand that AMP enables prerendering is simply stating a fact. In soyyo's comment, there is no place where soyyo shows any understanding that this is the thing that AMP was designed to do.

When I continued with my general statement about developers not understanding their platforms, I can see how that can be interpreted as a personal attack, and for that I apologise to soyyo and to the readers of this forum.


> So the "fast" part, besides using their CDN, actually comes from limiting what you can do on almost every other part of the site

That is a good thing.


If you work for a media org - than you KNOW that on the non-amp pages the synchronous java script from a hundred tracking / ad platforms (why can't these sites just use ONE tracking library) CRUSH the page load times.

Despite your (false) claim that google support sync javascript ad libraries "just as they do in their regular sites" this is 100% false.

The amp javascript components have DOM interaction restrictions, file size restrictions, response restrictions, can't run sync etc.

for amp-ad

"No ad network-provided JavaScript is allowed to run inside the AMP document. Instead, the AMP runtime loads an iframe from a different origin (via iframe sandbox) as the AMP document and executes the ad network’s JS inside that iframe sandbox."

If you can't understand why some of these steps result in both a faster site and one that is more secure I can't help you, but please stop with the misinformation here.


> "No ad network-provided JavaScript is allowed to run inside the AMP document. Instead, the AMP runtime loads an iframe from a different origin (via iframe sandbox) as the AMP document and executes the ad network’s JS inside that iframe sandbox."

GOOGLE CONTROLS THE AD ECOSYSTEM. If they think that's a good idea, do it on regular webpages. Literally, AMP is only faster because Google provided ads are so slow that any more sane architecture can easily run circles around them.

How Google could speed up the web 5000%:

"Starting next month, all ads must be a collection of static assets with no JavaScript outside of this toolbox. We will host the ads and ensure no other JavaScript is executed."

Done.


> Despite your (false) claim that google support sync javascript ad libraries "just as they do in their regular sites" this is 100% false.

OP didn’t claim this.


> they will look how to load it with ads and tracking, which very conveniently is supported on amp, just as they do in their regular sites.

Yes OP did.


He put words in OPs mouth about sync loaded JS.


Take "sync" out of the mouth-inserted words and it's an exact representation of OP's claim: that AMP pages will gravitate toward being just as JS-laden as non-AMP pages.

Whether or not that claim is true is beyond both my expertise and my interest.


No, this doesn’t say anything about sync vs async.


The parent / op literally says they will load AMP with ads and trackers "just as they do in their regular sites."

So we are very clear, regular HTML websites allow sync javascript and cross site / full dom access etc by trackers and ad platforms. Sync is preferred for a few reasons by ad providers. Lots of regular sites have sync javascript.

On AMP, total javascript size is limited, dom interactions are limited (ie, you can repaint the screen repeatedly with the flyover crap etc) and sync is prohibited and the script generally runs in a sandboxed iframe with a separate web worker.

So I'm not putting words in anyone's mouth, I quotes them exactly, and am pointing out that despite their false claim that you can run same things in AMP you do on regular site - you cannot.

People claiming that AMP is only faster because of preload, that publishers can abuse the user as much as they do with full HTML, that javascript works just as it does on their regular site are lying.

Is AMP perfect? No - folks will always be able to abuse things, but it cuts down on a bunch of common and egregious abuses.

I wonder if part of the issue is some folks here browse with ad-block or other extensions and so don't really experience the web as publishers intend it - because the differences between AMP and non AMP sites is glaring (ignoring the preload question).


Sorry, none of this matters. You are still putting words in OPs mouth. You should apologize for doing that and simultaneously saying they made a false claim.


amp-ads moves those ads/trackers in iframes, but that doesn't reduce the code size, right? google is also injecting code in your site , so you can't be sure that it's secure / private, right?

And if i promise to make all ads async and iframe, will google promise to rank my site higher? If not , they are discriminating in favor of their own walled garden system without an objective ruse.


really? adsense forbids use of iframes afaik



they offer replacements as amp-ads. i dont know how they work


Probably highly unpopular opinion, but as a user I've never had anything but positive experiences with AMP-enabled sites. They load massively faster than normal sites, especially on poor mobile connections where main sites sometimes hang indefinitely trying to load javascript, ads, etc.

While content publishers are continuing to overload their sites with further trackers, ads, javascript, remotely loading assets which slow down performance, AMP seems like one of the few counterbalances and is pro-user, even if Google's endgame is self-enrichment rather than benevolence.

Content publishers could easily fight back by independently improving their own performance and not forcing mobile users to suck down megabytes of trackers on shaky connections, but they seem to be choosing not to.


> They load massively faster than normal sites, especially on poor mobile connections where main sites sometimes hang indefinitely trying to load javascript, ads, etc.

Have you tried the normal mobile websites with an adblocker?


I have, and I agree - as a user AMP sites seem to be faster, at least the ones that I've noticed are AMP.

But I've also implemented AMP pages and as a developer they are a PITA. And as discussed in the OP and related they are definitely an of example Google crowd-sourcing their challenges onto everyone else.

Part of what makes AMP pages faster is that the AMP constraints force you to abandon not just ads but also many other complex HTML5/CSS/JS features. The resulting UX is less sexy and may be lacking in functionality, but there is simply less of it. Getting simple AMP pages from Google's cache _is__ noticeably faster on mobile, as much as I wish it wasn't.


Good luck doing it on mobile phone. I'd say 99.99% users out there on mobile never even attempted to use another browser than safari or chrome for ios.


Firefox on android lets you install most of the available desktop extensions, so you can use your favourite ad blockers


But then you have to suffer using Firefox on Android.


There's nothing wrong with it, I've been using it for ages.


Well, once a webpage has played audio there's a notification that hangs around till you restart the phone. That's probably better than the cost of running Chrome, though.


You don't have to restart your phone. On Android you can close the app from the recent app list.


Safari supports ad blockers, and they’re quite easy to set up.

Whether or not people actually install them is a good question, though.


I’m using safari + adguard (an app that injects adblock rules into it) and pretty sure that I see no ads. Except on few sites that usually try to push it even through desktop uBO anyway. Even no youtube ads, idk how they do it.


I'm from Poland, a country which has one of the highest percentages of adblocker users. Most pages adapted to it by either doing nasty tricks to bypass them, or just slapping an unclosable popup telling you to disable your adblocker...


I've seen a few such websites. Hit back button and never visited them again.


Normal people don’t know how to do that


Normal people know how to use Firefox which has it built-in.


Most people don't go that route because they have more important things going on in their lives.

AMP isn't about solving one-offs or making users improve their own experience. It's about improving most people's experience by default.

I don't like AMP, it frustrates me, and I think Google's fucking up in their implementation, but it actually _does_ do a good thing.


Changing your browser is a pretty simple operation if you're not an advanced user who has to replicate his intricate workflow. A large number of people have done it at least once in their lives.

I also don't think we should simply say "it does a good thing". That would mean we are consciously choosing to concentrate on the good aspects while deliberately ignoring the bad ones.

AMP does have good sides, but this is what makes it especially dangerous. Hijacking web sites by fronting them from another unrelated domain is completely completely unacceptable. The good side of AMP lies in making websites lean, but this can be done without the fronting part.


Have you used AMP reddit?


Yes, it's substandard, but you can easily get to the main site. Also if you're googling for an answer from Reddit, I've found the answer is often in the first few posts anyway. Reddit is probably the only case I can think of where the AMP user experience is not ideal.


Clicking through to the hamstrung Reddit on AMP and then clicking through to the actually functional site makes for an artificially high load time.


I'm not a fan of Google's proprietary web, but it's worth pointing out that this is largely a response to the increasingly shitty way publishers treat their users. Just reading basic articles on the web has become a painful exercise in dodging "Subscribe" faux-pop-ups; trying to scan text while your vision is bombarded with unrelated video; and user-hostile scroll capture effects.

For much the same reasons Google AMP is a thing, I use Apple News for most of my news reading. The web has overcome commercial broadcast television as being the shittiest way of consuming content.


It's worth noting that Apple News take a 50% cut of the revenue. On the web, a publisher is free to do whatever they want so when Google can insert themselves into that, it is a fraction of the cut that Apple takes.

It's the sort of thing that reminds me why I want the web platform to remain competitive with iOS, Facebook, and Android. If not AMP, something like it was sorely needed.


I guess because I work on mostly b2b or private apps, I'm not up on the latest for sites that are trying to drive traffic and views. SEO has always seemed like a dirty world of stepping on whatever you have to just to get clicks, and be the 500th app someone grants notification permissions to.


Why using proprietary Apple News when there are so many news aggregators and even RSS readers? Isn't it just laziness?


I started blacklisting hostile websites and encouraging people to do the same.


Also worth pointing out Google can and does rank websites by any criteria they choose. So if the top ranking sites have poor usability that is on Google in the first place.


It's tough to work-around the unilateral-disarmament problem here: if supporting AMP gives you a boost in Google SERPs it's difficult to boycott AMP if your competitors don't.

This is what is so insidious about what Google is doing here and seems to me to maybe make a good case that Google abuses its monopoly power.

(INB4: "It's a bad idea to make your business depend on Google traffic because that's fickle and outside of your control." Sure, that's true, but still, organic Google traffic is a pretty rich vein to completely ignore or cede to competitors.)


I agree with all of this, but until google provides a way to appear in the discover box without having AMP-published pages, this is a non-starter for publishers. Ironically, by creating AMP, google has disincentivized publishers from making their canonical pages faster.

Publishers hate that google holds them hostage with AMP in this manner, but the situation is what it is, until someone from the Justice Department starts making the lords of Mountain View antsy.


I think the fact that Google gives higher ranking in their search results to sites that use Google technologies should be addressed in anti-trust investigations.


>Ironically, by creating AMP, google has disincentivized publishers from making their canonical pages faster.

In theory, maybe, but I think history has clearly demonstrated that publishers will not make their pages faster if AMP didn't exist. That's why AMP has been so successful in the first place.


It would have been interesting if Google had openly added the same incentive (access to carousel at top of search results, search prioritization, special marker (lightning symbol)) to pages that follow the same guidelines AMP enforces (generally, avoid techniques that block page rendering or cause large layout changes), and published AMP as a reference implementation.


100% agree with that and part of the issue is that they didn't. They had the option to begin aggressively de-prioritizing pages that have performance issues and are otherwise detrimental to user experience.. that would have resulted in some pretty swift changes to bad UX. Instead they created AMP and told publishers "you want to be on mobile search results, use this".


I would like to point out that it is possible to have web pages that load faster than AMP. It has not been made easy but many publishers have figured out (in some cases publishers have web pages that load faster than their AMP ones...)

Take a look: https://webperf.xyz

I have a number of issues with AMP but I will just mention two:

1. If Google addressed how their ad system was being mis-used (and in many respects as-intended) that would have gone a long way to addressing webpage performance. Instead they pushed more work on the publisher to adopt yet another new format (add it to Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News JSON formats, Google News MediaRSS etc.)

2. AMP helped killed some early momentum to make pages faster. They sold a bandaid solution that was 'good enough' for management and undercut engineering efforts to address the root cause.


And in the process introduced a whole new layer of cruft and the number of bugs I hear from the web teams trying to implement content with AMP is... it's constant.


I used to use Google hundreds of times per day, literally everything I wanted to know I would type into Google.

Between their A) political activities (opinion influencing, censorship, etc.), B) business activities (user tracking, ruinous ads, etc.), and C) search quality issues (they have a major conflict of interest between providing good search results and maximizing A and B), I didn’t even have to try to stop using them out of principle; I literally just don’t get any value out of using Google search anymore.

I use DuckDuckGo (starting circa 2013), which provides a fairly similar/mediocre quality search experience, but without all the other aforementioned problems. The truth of the matter is that these search giants ruined search so bad that I don’t even really use search as much anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I realize that I can no longer rely on finding things easily. This is not a problem of “the Internet has just gotten too big”. This is a problem created by Google, which has now set a low benchmark.


I have been using the "Redirect AMP to HTML" extension:

https://www.daniel.priv.no/web-extensions/amp2html.html


My experience with AMP, immediately before seeing this article:

1. On desktop, I clicked through a link on Facebook, leading to an AMP page

2. The page was clearly meant for mobile, and looked bad on desktop; the images were full-screen size, the font was too big, and the text line length went all the way to the edges of my very wide browser window.

3. I used Ctrl+Minus to adjust the zoom, which fixed the font size but not the images or the line length.

4. I looked at the top and bottom of the page for a "desktop site" link, and couldn't find one.

5. I looked at the address bar, and saw that the URL was an AMP URL. This is the first time I have noticed that I am using AMP in more than a month.

6. I closed the tab and went to HN, where this was the top article.

When AMP works well, it's inconspicuous, so it's not so surprising that most of my remembered experiences with it are negative. Still, I think google needs to invest a bit more in preventing this sort of bad experience, because currently it comes across as "google breaking the web".


Every valid AMP page includes a <link rel=canonical href="..."> to the canonical URL for the document. If the aggregator (facebook in this case) parsed and linked to the canonical as the publisher recommends via this annotation, you would get the version the publisher preferred. This is how browser extensions that rewrite to the non-amp version work, they extract this URL.

The AMP viewer iframe share button (and share intents) all share this canonical URL, not the AMP url. Google's implementation is trying it's best to get you to that version as well when sharing links.

Link Rel Canonical is an old (2012) standard: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6596


I don't understand how Google's AMP business strategies are dissimilar to what Microsoft got in trouble for with Internet Explorer. Would be interested in what someone who is knowledgeable on that topic has to say.


One could argue, that it never really got Microsoft in _that_ much trouble. They retained Internet Explorer, and really all the requirements put on them by the U.S. and EU combined didn't amount to much.

Not saying it _shouldn't_ have gotten Microsoft into that much trouble, just that it did not.


It has been argued that Microsoft (higher management) missed the Web and/or the smartphone because they were caught up in litigation.

Imagine the position Google would be in today if both Chrome and Android were controlled by Microsoft.


For those interested in security - AMP basically forces the iframe javascript sandbox security model.

https://www.html5rocks.com/en/tutorials/security/sandboxed-i...

Even reputable web pages tend to have a metric TON of non-sandboxed javascript from third parties. If you care about your security this is a risk.

If you stick with AMP - this is - by spec - prohibited.

Something to think about as you browse the web gobbling down javascript and all the other third party javascript being pumped at you.


Which conveniently ensures that the only way you can effectively monetize AMP articles is via Google's own advertising networks which don't have constraints on running javascript.


See the list of natively supported Ad networks in AMP: https://amp.dev/documentation/components/amp-ad/#supported-a...

There are about 200 in that list and any network can submit a config to be added, it's just a pull request away.


so AMP is like the play store but for advertisers?


Yes. The readers are the product.


> For those interested in security - AMP basically forces the iframe javascript sandbox security model.

AMP is the wrong way to address this. Using a good browser is the right way.


My parents use IE, my friends use Safari - both have high market share - are these good browsers? Should users of these browsers be forced to fight through flyover ads that autoplay audio, repainting pages that jump around like crazy, huge sets of third party javascript with total access to their page / session?


Now that we finally can run JS in AMP. That's been a big no since we can't run our normal funnel using AMP.


"How to make your sites faster than AMP without using AMP" leaves out "locally cache a copy of your site in a CDN that is geographically close to your users." Which is the actual mechanical part of AMP that makes it technologically interesting / valuable to content providers and countries distant from the creation of most content.


It also omits the part where google starts preloading and rendering the AMP page when the user is still on the search results. Without that, AMP is often no faster than many non-amp pages.


This should be higher. By googling, you are using way more data because of AMP pages, that is big minus especially if you are on mobile plan


Otoh, without AMP that would bring even a PC to its knees.


This technology has been available to anyone via Akamai, CloudFront and other edge caching networks for years. It shouldn't require Google threatening AMP to get content publishers to adopt it.


I work in the news industry and have literally never published anything to the public without a CDN. It's basic, easy, and cheap. AMP is a scam.


I think there needs to be a real alternate solution from Google for longer term change. (if Google wants to stay relevant)

Can they just penalize slow/large file size sites in their index?

This seems like the underlying goal behind AMP and Chrome's Lighthouse (site audit tool) any way.

This would make a lot of sites fast in the next couple months. But maybe Google doesn't really want that?


Page speed is already a penalty factor in ranking. Think they introduced this last year

edit: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-i...


But what does Google say about AMP affecting your ranking? If they don't explicitly state both sides, then we are left to guess.

And I would say (considering how Google search looks on mobile in Chrome) that AMP is a far higher effect on rank than page speed.

So what is the motivation to make your page speed faster when you can just have an AMP page and then a super fat page for everything else?


AMP's current goals are stated to make pages load faster, but it's obvious that the goal is only a start. It's essentially the second part of Microsoft's old "Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish" where Google is wanting to extend the third party advertising and content that exists on the web so that they may extinguish it.

Google's mission is to "organize the world's information". How can you better organize the world's information when other companies control it? Nothing better than taking control of that information directly. Now you can organize and reformat it to your own wishes. Nothing evil about that, mind you, but it does make you think about their next steps.


The reason that they do not just penalize slow loading sites in a big way is because those are the sites that they directly profit on.

Most page weight seems to come from tracking and ads. Google IS the most popular tracking and ad provider on the web.

If google penalized slow loading very much, they'd be hurting their own revenue and data collection. It's a conflict of interest.

AMP allows these big, ad-driven, heavy-weight sites to still take all the top spots on the web. Meanwhile terrific content is buried because it's failure to implement AMP.

Google's self-interested ranking of sites is shaping the web very negatively - towards more tracking and more ads.


You’re correct. When making a site you have to make a trade off between “Advert supported” and “lightweight”. Pretty damn sneaky of them!


> Can they just penalize slow/large file size sites in their index?

Well, that would be bad for the independent web, wouldn't it? I mean, you'd be penalising sites with large amounts of content, that aren't on a CDN. Large images or videos, for example, might be the entire point of the page in the first place. I don't want to be directed to to a webpage about an artist (for example) that has the crappiest, smallest and fastest loading images, I want the one with the best images.


Html <img> and <picture> elements already have the ability to serve larger or smaller images (srcset) based on your browser's perception of your network performance.

I agree with the other comment here replying to you. In the olden days people had to explicitly link to larger content. Isn't that was AMP does anyway?


The reason Google has penalties for page weight and loading time is that they have extensive user research on customer behavior related to loading time. If a flat page studded with a few dozen giant PNG’s takes a minute to load, most people are going to click the back button.

It’s worth spending some time optimizing your landing page so that it loads fast and renders cleanly on mobile, if you want people to see your content. That doesn’t mean it has to use JS, or AMP.


> The reason Google has penalties for page weight and loading time is that they have extensive user research on customer behavior related to loading time. If a flat page studded with a few dozen giant PNG’s takes a minute to load, most people are going to click the back button.

Why is then basically every single page created by Google is a bloated monstrosity with multi-megabyte Pangs routinely embedded in them and loading megabytes of shitty JS?


well no, not really? Perhaps you could imagine a world where it default loads a smaller file and right underneath there is a link to a larger file? This used to be a more common thing...


This is _literally_ what people do to game the paint speed of websites for Chrome Lighthouse tests.

They render a <p>Loading</p> so it gets a paint score of 100, then when their behemoth js app finishes loading+parsing it removes this dom element.


This is literally every WIX site on the web. 100% javascript rendered site.


> Well, that would be bad for the independent web, wouldn't it?

Google already effectively omits most of the independent web anyway. It strongly favors the large commercial websites instead.


That's a very edge case - its more that front end design and developers need to get their act together and design and build for speed!

Don't use complex but nice images designed for print on the web and not just copypasta god knows what js library.


Are you saying good, clear pictures are an edge case? I just can't agree, as I find them hugely relevant to a large number of subjects.

I don't think images are the problem, megabytes of third-party javascript is.


Crawlers are smart enough to measure various types of slowness; images/video are non-blocking so although they're bandwidth-heavy, adding a bunch to your site is probably less "damaging" than a slow initial server response or first paint.

> I don't want to be directed to to a webpage about an artist (for example) that has the crappiest, smallest and fastest loading images, I want the one with the best images.

There are several technologies available for progressively-enhanced images, and Chrome is experimenting with lazy-loading all images[1]. This argument does not exist in practice.

[1] https://web.dev/native-lazy-loading/


W3C is working on neutral/non-locked-in replacements for AMP like feature policies and Web Packaging but standards take years to deploy.


Yes - they do this.

Slow web pages is a big signal (out of many) in SEO.


AMP demotivates page speed performance improvements though. (ie, AMP > page speed for ranking)


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