People have called me many things, but when it comes to the Open Web, I’ve been described as a zealot. Imagine a Portland hipster’s post-Trump-tweet outrage, and channel all that fire and fury into defending humankind’s greatest achievement: The Internet.
I’ll be honest, when I first heard about “Google AMP,” it was framed as a threat to the Open Web. You better believe I jumped on that train, and consumed all the anti-Google rhetoric on offer.
But when I came up for air, I couldn’t ignore the fact that AMP is an open source project. I was faced with a dilemma: Since I believe open source is inherently good, and AMP is open source, how bad can AMP really be?
We should all know by now that almost every controversy is more nuanced than it first appears. As I dug a little deeper, my discoveries moved me from Naysayer, to Skeptic, and ultimately, I’ve become a Believer.
To start with, AMP is way faster. AMP page load times are seriously close to instant.
Since we know that frontend performance is the main lever involved in driving user engagement, AMP has an important part to play in the future of the Internet.
In addition, on closer inspection, I found that most other criticisms of AMP quickly fall apart.
For example, criticism about Google’s control over the project. Unlike similar technologies (I’m looking at you Facebook Instant Articles), AMP really is open source. How open source? I took a random sample of 10 recent committers to AMP from Github. Let’s be honest – 9 of those were Google employees – but the fact that I could so easily view the project’s commit history, current issues and pull requests says a great deal.
There’s nothing stopping you or me from actively contributing to the project. Like any other open source community, AMP is a meritocracy. Rather than complaining about the negative potential of the project, get involved! Test versions, report issues, file bugs, write fixes: Any efforts you make help improve the project.
There’s another thing that bugs me about all the gloomy characterisations. Some AMP detractors argue that “the sane solution is to just fix your website so that pages load fast.” On the surface, this seems to make sense, but let’s be real – “just fixing” a website is rarely that simple.
AMP isn’t just a static site generator. It optimises DOM construction, avoids layout recalculations, prioritises resource loading, and much much more. Let’s put it this way – even a halfway complex static website would be up to 85 percent faster with AMP.
One more thing: Some detractors suggest that implementing AMP means handing over control of your content and audience. This is simply false. Does Google have an AMP cache? Why yes… yes it does. So does Bing, Pinterest, Twitter, and any other web service who wishes to have one. (Personally, I hope that my search engine of choice decides to add an AMP cache.)
- Nothing is as simple as first it seems.
- AMP makes your website stupid fast.
- Most AMP criticisms don’t bear scrutiny.
Opinions are opinions and these are mine. How do you see AMP and its role in WordPress and the open web?
XWP has implemented AMP for some of the largest media publications on the planet, and works with Google and Automattic to maintain the official AMP for WordPress plugin.
If you’d like to learn more about how AMP can help you, let’s chat!