Xaisoft Xaisoft - 8 days ago 5
Javascript Question

Microsoft CDN for jQuery or Google CDN?

Does it actually matter which CDN you use to link to your jquery file or any javascript file for that matter. Is one potentially faster than the other? What other factors could play a role in which cdn you decide to use? I know that Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google all have CDN's now.

Answer

Update based on comments:

Short version: It doesn't matter much, but it may depend on what they host. They all host different things: Google doesn't host jQuery.Validate, Microsoft did not host jQuery-UI, since 2016 they do!!, Microsoft offers their scripts that would otherwise be served via ScriptResource.axd and an easier integration (e.g. ScriptManager with ASP.Net 4.0).

Important Note: If you're building an intranet application, stay away from the CDN approach. It doesn't matter who's hosting it, unless you're on a very overloaded server internally, no CDN will give you more performance than local 100mb/1GB ethernet will. If you use a CDN for a strictly internal application you're hurting performance. Set your cache expiration headers correctly and ignore CDNs exist in the intranet-only scenario.

The chances of either being blocked seems to be about equal, almost zero. I have worked on contracts where this isn't true, but it seems to be an exception. Also, since the original posting of this answer, the context surrounding it has changed greatly, the Microsoft CDN has made a lot of progress.

The project I'm currently on uses both CDNs which works best for our solution. Several factors play into this. Users with an older browser are still probably making 2 simultaneous requests per domain as recommended by the HTTP specification. This isn't an issue for anyone running anything decently new that supports pipelining (every current browser), but based on another factor we're knocking out this limitation as well, at least as far as the javascript.

Google's CDN we're using for:

Microsoft's CDN we're using for:

Our server:

  • Combined.js?v=2.2.0.6190 (Major.Minor.Iteration.Changeset)

Since part of our build process is combining and minifying all custom javascript, we do this via a custom script manager that includes the release or debug (non-minified) versions of these scripts depending on the build. Since Google doesn't host the jQuery validation package, this can be a down-side. MVC is including/using this in their 2.0 release, so you could rely completely on Microsoft's CDN for all your needs, and all of it automatic via the ScriptManager.

The only other argument to be made would be DNS times, there is a cost to this in terms of page load speed. On Average: Simply because it's used more (it's been around longer) ajax.googleapis.com is likely to be returned by DNS sooner than ajax.microsoft.com, simply because the local DNS server was more likely to get a request for it (this is a first user in the area penalty). This is a very minor thing and should only be considered if performance is extremely important, down to the millisecond.
(Yes: I realize this point is contrary to my using both CDNs, but in our case the DNS time is far overshadowed by the wait time on the javascript/blocking that occurs)

Last, if you haven't looked at it, one of the best tools out there is Firebug, and some plug-ins for it: Page Speed and YSlow. If you use a CDN but your pages are requesting images every time because of no cache-headers, you're missing the low-hanging fruit. Firebug's Net panel can quickly give you a quick breakdown of your page load-time, and Page Speed/YSlow can offer some good suggestions to help.