Episode #248 of Shop Talk Show is all about AMP (accelerated mobile pages) and how the project relates to the web at large. After listening, I have some thoughts. It’s made fairly clear in the episode that AMP is a crutch used by publishers who have lost control of their website’s performance. AMP has a very tight set of constraints built into it that prioritize performance. Comparing it to a traditional website, it makes sense why it is so effective. The defeating part of it is that it doesn’t have to exist. We can make pages that are better than AMP on the web.
Development teams have been fighting constraints as long as the web has existed, and sometimes performance just doesn’t win out. Now they’ve been presented with, essentially, an easy way out. Instead of reprioritizing performance internally, AMP can be used to make the case for performance, and it wins out because it puts you in a good place with Google. This isn’t a good for the long-term.
The guests in the episode don’t seem to be able to defend the AMP project very well, and it’s a bit hard to get on board listening to the discussion. It reeks a bit of “business reasons,” which is never a good reason in itself to do something. The fact of the matter is, AMP doesn’t need to exist. What we should be doing is using AMP as a model to improve what we already have. We should be removing as much code as possible from our sites, simplifying the layout, and caching as much as we possibly can. The future of the web depends on it.
Update 3/25/17: An excellent roundup of the debate over AMP was posted on CSS-Tricks just the other day, it’s at css-tricks.com/need-catch-amp-debate.