Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google releases Closure Tools!

Today Google released a suite of JavaScript tools that are used to construct massive web applications such as Gmail and Google Docs. The suite is named Closure Tools, and I think you'll find it superior to existing offerings, particularly with respect to minifying JavaScript. The post on the Google Code blog links to a ton of new code and documentation, so trying to determine where to start can be overwhelming.

I used all of these tools when I worked at Google, so there is a lot I could write about them, but for now I'm just going to try to convince you that the Closure Compiler is not your ordinary JavaScript minifier. There is a web version of the Compiler that you can play with to convince yourself that it is worth learning more about. If you go to the site, you will see the following code:

function hello(name) {
alert('Hello, ' + name);
hello('New user');

Using the Compile button to run the Compiler, try each of the options to the right of the Optimization: label when compiling the sample code. The compiled code appears in the first tab on the right side of the screen. Note that running with the Advanced option, the code is compiled down to:

alert("Hello, New user");

Now that's some serious inlining! Can your minifier do that? Probably not. To get the maximum benefit out of Closure Tools, you should fix your JavaScript code so that it compiles in Advanced mode. Reading Google's article on advanced compilation is the quickest way to learn what the Compiler expects from your JavaScript, and it should also give you an idea of what other optimizations the Compiler is capable of.


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