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Discussion: JSON vs. Markup Fragments

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Alex Kessinger is a programmer who lives in the Bay Area. He strives to make websites, cook, and write a little bit better each day. You can find more from Alex at his blog, on Twitter, and Google+.

Recently at work we were discussing a new trend in
web application development, whereby markup is rendered on both the
server and client. The Google+ team talked about this openly in this
post by Mark
Knichel
,
with particular focus given to performance. Why does rendering content
on both the server and the client improve performance?

This is clearly something that people seem to think is a good idea. Some
templating languages, like mustache, are
available in many different languages, making it easy to use them on
both the client and server. Now, if you're a front-end developer by
trade, you might be more comfortable with rendering everything on the
client. That doesn't mean that it's faster; it's more of a comfort
issue.

So, community, my questions for you are as follows:

  • Is Google+'s approach of rendering markup on the server really faster than transmitting data?
  • Are there ideological or philosophical arguments for delivering data or markup?
  • Is it appropriate to mix both approaches?