The 3rd global conference for AMP (the artist formerly known as Accelerated Mobile Pages) took place this year on the 49th floor of the Mori Tower in Roppongi, Tokyo. The spectacular views over the city helped to set the scene for a few major announcements around the open-source technology.
The DOM APIs that are available to use as part of amp-script can be viewed over at https://bit.ly/amp-script-compat. As you’ll see, it’s a very restricted list, but this was to be expected given it cannot interfere with the parent search in which it is likely to be embedded.
Watch the full presentation by Kristofer Baxter from Google, where he goes through a working example and explains the limitations and possibilities in depth.
Two: fully responsive AMP Stories
The past year has seen major publishing make use of AMP Stories, with impressive content from the likes of CNN, BBC and The Washington Post using the Instagram / Snapchat-esque display format. The Washington Post even won a Pulitzer prize for content that was first published via the format.
Now that the component is out of beta and available to everyone, Google announced several enhancements to the format that will make it much more than just a mobile story view.
Localisation, which includes support for 21 locales, and allows the publisher to easily flip the view over to right-to-left where needed.
Desktop & tablet support, which allows the story view to not only be mobile, but also to flow responsively into tablet and desktop screen sizes. This was a feature we were very much hoping for at Compare the Market. It feels much more of an inclusive experience to include all devices, giving us an easy way to create more interactive, engaging content.
amp-sidebar has been added to the list of components within AMP Stories, which allows the publisher to have navigation within the content rather than it being something the user might see once they get to the bookend.
Attachments is another new feature that allows a related piece of content to be attached to the story; such as a link or a downloadable document. This is a common paradigm in Instagram, so will be a welcome addition that users will already be familiar with.
Finally, visibility of AMP Stories has also been improved so that not only are they available within Google search, but also in the Google Discover feed on Android devices. In addition to this, a panel will be added to the regular Google search feed that showcases AMP Stories, similar to the previous news carousel. This will start as a pilot for any travel category searches.
The presentation by Jon Newmuis and Wei Hong, both from Google, is below.
Three: Signed Exchanges
One major drawback of using AMP, is that pages cached in Google’s search appears in the AMP viewer under their domain. This can create CORS issues with integrating analytics into your pages, hitting any APIs on your own domain, and let’s not go into the mess with cookies.
The good news is, Google have managed to solve this thorny issue with the creation of Signed Exchanges. This is best described as a three step process:
- A publisher creates an AMP and digitally signs it to prove it comes from them. This is a signed exchange.
- The AMP cache fetches and caches this signed exchange, along with its signature.
- Browsers will then allow content signed in this way to display with the original content’s URL, rather than that of the cache.
To enable this, a new digital TLS certificate is needed, supporting the CanSignHttpExchanges extension to ECC TLS certificates. Cloudflare has also announced that they are launching support for signed exchanges for its CDN customers.
For more information on how this all works, check out the talk by Greg Grothaus from Google and Jack Bloom from Cloudflare.
Four: Bento AMP
Midway through the first day of the conference, Rudy Galfi (AMP Product Lead) gave us a glimpse of the AMP road-map for the short to medium term. One particular standout was the introduction of the geographically appropriate “Bento AMP”.
Bento AMP promises to give the ability to developers to use the AMP component library without needing the full AMP run-time on the page. The promises in full were:
With Bento AMP, AMP components will;
- Reliably work outside of a valid-AMP context
- Interact with non-AMP components
- Interact with each other without v0.js
- Be useable in client-side rendering frameworks
This brings about the possibility for developers to start using AMP components in a gradual fashion. Not needing to completely swap out a front-end framework in order to start using these components will be a big breaking of that barrier to entry, especially when faced with developing AMPs on top of existing frameworks.
Being able to pick-and-choose from a variety of components that have been meticulously designed, by a UX team with Accessibility and performance at the heart of their ethos, is definitely something to take seriously.
Hear more from Rudy below in his “What’s next in AMP” talk.
Five: amp-experiment 2.0
The final talk of the conference had one particular gem hidden in it. MVT and A/B testing is not an easy task in the world of AMP. The previous incarnation of amp-experiment had a basic capability that allowed for very simple A/B testing via the use of CSS.
However, the component has been improved considerably, with the introduction of pilots with both Optimizely and Oracle Maxymiser.
This will allow full multivariate functionality, proper reporting, and for those of a performance mindset - the ability to host non-render blocking tests in the AMP cache.
Being able to reliably run client-side MVTs without sacrificing performance on a website will be an incredibly powerful tool for any website looking to improve the customer experience.
For more information on these trials plus information on the AMP Analytics road-map, check out the talk by Jeffrey Jose from Google.
For those of you in London, interested in the AMP ecosystem and components, please join the London AMP meetup group and pop along to the next meeting which should be towards the end of June. There’ll be the usual talks from developers and designers using AMP, alongside one of us from Compare the Market giving a talk about our time in Tokyo at AMP Conf 2019.