This browser tweak saved 60% of requests to Facebook

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Ben Maurer & Nate Schloss:

The browser’s reload button exists to allow the user to get an updated version of the current page. In order to meet this goal, when you reload, browsers revalidate the page that you are currently on, even if that page hasn’t expired yet. However, they also go a step further and revalidate all sub-resources on the page — things like images and JavaScript files.

So even if you’ve set proper expires headers for resources, hitting that reload button (which people must do a ton at Facebook) still requires server round trips to revalidate assets (sometimes).

They worked with Chrome:

After fixing this, Chrome went from having 63% of its requests being conditional to 24% of them being conditional.

And Firefox:

Firefox implemented a proposal from one of our engineers to add a new cache-control header for some resources in order to tell the browser that this resource should never be revalidated.

So if you’re using URLs for assets that never change (if they change, they’ll be at a new URL) in Chrome you’ll benefit automatically, and in Firefox you should use their new header.

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