Optimizing Web Application Page Weight: A developer perspective

Optimizing for performance can fall by the wayside when developing in a fast-paced environment such as the Informatics Innovation Unit (IIU).  The IIU team strives to rapidly build out web application prototypes.  Often, to get a prototype “into the hands” of our clients as quickly as possible, we are forced to adopt a “we’ll get to that later” philosophy.  This issue came to the forefront when, out of curiosity, I tested our sites through Google’s PageSpeed Insights and was surprised to learn that, even though our sites ran well in our testing and production environments, our sites had page weights of more than 3mb and scored relatively poorly on their speed tests.  This result was well over the average of 1.7mbs, which meant that for slower connections our sites would have a prolonged load time.

Luckily there were some fairly simple actions we could take to reduce page weight and improve site performance.  I wanted to highlight a few of them here with focus on how to accomplish them when working with full stack JavaScript applications since that’s what we focus on in IIU…

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What’s new in EMCAScript 6 (ES6): A developer perspective

EMCAScript 6 (ES6) is that latest version of JavaScript that was released in June 2015. I have been using and testing ES6 over the past few weeks. I feel that there are some great features that will improve the quality of life for developers who use simple scripts, as well as complex web applications. I wanted to highlight some of these features that would be useful for anyone developing with JavaScript.

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The evolution of HL7 Standards: V2 to FHIR

HL7 is the abbreviation for the term, Health Level-7.   The organization, HL7, provides international standards for the structuring and transmission of clinical and administrative data in the healthcare domain.   One HL7 interoperability specification used for many years has been version 2.x, otherwise known as V2.  V2 has been a standard used to codify medical (led by billing) information and transmit it between computerized medical systems. The standard was developed and finalized during the 1980s, and thus was optimized for lower memory and storage usage in the very early stages of networked computing; thus it was an implicitly typed flat-file.

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Using Git for an Effective Development Workflow

Overview The following is an outline of the branching, merging, and workflow conventions that can help development teams manage parallel feature development and release management. This workflow style is taken directly from http://nvie.com/posts/a­successful-git­branching­model/ Please visit that site to read the full­ length post on the details of this method.

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Password Expiration Instructions for IIU VMs

If you received an email notice from our team that your password for your IIU R&D virtual machine(s) will expire in X day(s), it is recommended that you change it before it expires by connecting to one of your Windows VMs here.

Once you are connected to your VM:

  1. click tab on the right
  2. click icon with three boxes
  3. click “Change a password”
















If you do not change your password before it expires, you change it here.

The requirements for new password are as following:

  • Minimum password length must be eight characters
  • Requirement at least one uppercase letter
  • Requirement at least one lowercase letter
  • Requirement at least one number or special character

Please contact us at informaticslab@cdc.gov if you have any questions

Google Glass: Team Impressions

We found the Google Glass to be a very interesting device.  The following blog post is a summary of the feedback that IIU staff provided after testing out the device.

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IIU In the News: Federal News Radio 4/1/13

Dr. Savel was interviewed on Federal News Radio to discuss the following topic:

Public health is one of those fields that lives on data. In fact, public health practitioners probably have more data than they can deal with. One answer to that is the Public Health Informatics Research Cloud. It’s built and operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Joining us to tell us what it is and what it will do is Tom Savel, CDC’s director of the Informatics Research and Development.

Click here to visit Federal News Radio or here to listen to Dr. Savel’s interview.



Team Insights for other developers: Angular Filters: Things of Nifty

Here are some thoughts from one our lead web developers, while working on one of our new web applications…..

…all the time I spent working (climbing up the learning curve) with the AngularJS location manager was made up today when I discovered how pleasant angular filters were.  Our team currently stores several of our labels and attributes as ‘camelCase’ and I wanted to have a quick JavaScript algorithm that would use a RegEx to turn them into everyday readable text.  I started by coding up an unCamelCase function in the main controller… and then another team member told me, “This seems like a situation where you could use an Angular Filter”.

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Creating a Javascript (JQuery) powered application-in-page

As part of the MMWR Express project, the team created a new web resource, “Photon Admin.”  Photon Admin is a Javascript (JQuery) powered application-in-page built to tranform MMWR article blue-boxes into JSON ‘Blobs’ that can be easily consumed by the MMWR Express mobile application.  The blobs generated by Photon Admin – affectionately referred to as  “Blob The Builder” are then posted to a feed via CDC’s Content Syndication service  (akin to a CDC hosted “feedburner” account) – where the information can then be consumed by MMWR Express.

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WISQARS Mobile for iOS

WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) is an interactive database that provides customized reports of injury-related data. The WISQARS Mobile App allows for sharing injury-related information on a tablet. The app dynamically-displays selected leading causes of injury death data using maps and charts of national and state-level death counts and rates. The app also enhances the user-friendliness of WISQARS and ready access to injury-related death data.

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