Minification of JS/CSS

Minification is a process of compressing the source code, without changing it’s functionality. This technique is useful sometimes, specially in the case of a web application with huge JavaScript/CSS files. In other cases, it’s probably just a micro-optimization. Minifying JavaScript/CSS files reduces the bandwidth used and also improves the performance of the application as the page loading time is minimal.

As per Wikipedia Source:

Minified source code is especially useful for interpreted languages deployed and transmitted on the Internet (such as JavaScript/StyleSheet), because it reduces the amount of data that needs to be transferred. Minified source code may also be used as a kind of obfuscation. In Perl culture, aiming at extremely minified source code is the purpose of the Perl golf game.

Minified source code is also very useful for HTML/CSS code. As an example, successive whitespace characters in HTML/CSS are rendered as a single space, so replacing all whitespace sequences with single spaces can considerably reduce the size of a page.

If you are using Maven for your build process, then you can use Minify Maven Plugin which is a wrapper above the YUI Compressor and Google Closure Compiler but has a layer of abstraction around these tools which allows for other tools to be added in the future.


<plugin>
   <groupId>org.apache.maven.plugins</groupId>
   <artifactId>maven-war-plugin</artifactId>
   <version>2.4</version>
   <configuration>
      <warSourceExcludes>/styles/*.css,/scripts/*.js</warSourceExcludes>
   </configuration>
</plugin>

<plugin>
   <groupId>com.samaxes.maven</groupId>
   <artifactId>minify-maven-plugin</artifactId>
   <version>1.7.2</version>
   <executions>
   <execution>
   <id>minify</id>
   <phase>process-resources</phase>
   <goals>
      <goal>minify</goal>
   </goals>
   <configuration>
      <charset>utf-8</charset>
      <jsEngine>CLOSURE</jsEngine>
      <skipMerge>true</skipMerge>
      <nosuffix>true</nosuffix>
      <cssSourceDir>styles</cssSourceDir>
      <cssTargetDir>styles/minified</cssTargetDir>
      <cssSourceIncludes>
         <cssSourceInclude>*.css</cssSourceInclude>
      </cssSourceIncludes>
      <jsSourceDir>scripts</jsSourceDir>
      <jsTargetDir>scripts/minified</jsTargetDir>
      <jsSourceIncludes>
         <jsSourceInclude>*.js</jsSourceInclude>
      </jsSourceIncludes>
   </configuration>
   </execution>
   </executions>
</plugin>

I created a sample web application with “scripts” folder to store javascript files and “styles” folder to store stylesheet files and used the above configuration to test the Minification process.

I copied the latest version of certain JavaScript and StyleSheet files weighed as noted below:

script/category-app.js –> 636 B

script/jquery.js –> 273199 B

styles/style-foundation.css –> 44659 B

After the Maven build, the minified versions of JavaSript and StyleSheet files weighed as noted below:

script/category-app.js –> 256 B

script/jquery.js –> 94689 B

styles/style-foundation.css –> 37016 B

The above results show that the Minification process is working well as expected. So, if you are using a lot of JavaScript/StyleSheet files in your web application, consider minifying your js/css code, so that you can reduce the data transferred and also improve the performance of your web application. In some cases, it might be a micro-optimization.

I have added the configuration <skipMerge>true</skipMerge>. Hence you see that all your files are minified but kept under the same file name within the minified folders respectively. If you set the value to <skipMerge>false</skipMerge>, then it merges all your JavaScript/StyleSheet files into one single file.

If the configuration <nosuffix>true</nosuffix>, you see that all the file names still remain same as the original ones. If you set the value ot <nosuffix>false</nosuffix>, then it will suffix all your JavaScript/StyleSheet file names with ‘.min’.

For more detailed information, please click here.

By : Nataraj Srikantaiah

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