Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘stubbornella’

People I’d like to see on stage more: Nicole Sullivan

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

This is a new series of posts I am starting, tying in with things I’ve been saying in presentations and at interviews lately: I think it is time we mixed the speaker circuit up a bit and hear from different people than the “rock stars” of web development.

In this series I will talk about people I very much enjoy following and had great experiences witnessing as presenters or colleagues. Hopefully it’ll inspire some conference organizers to consider them and you to have a lookout for them.

First up is Nicole Sullivan, which is the name of her real life mild-mannered self.

On the web she is known as Stubbornella and writes a lot about performance, image optimization, CSS maintenance and other things that are both highly technical and very related to the grey area of web development that is the blurry border between design and engineering.

nicole sullivan

Nicole is right now writing on a book about image optimisation together with Stoyan Stefanov one of her partners in battling those extra bytes clogging the web. Together they built Smushit, a ridiculously useful tool to optimize your images without changing their visual quality. She used to work in Yahoo in the exceptional performance team and was a large part of the research team that brought the best practices for images and CSS when it comes to performance.

Nicole gives presentations both in English and French and has a wonderfully pragmatic approach to her work. While a lot of performance presentations can be highly technical, academic or deal with edge cases, Nicole keeps her “down in the trenches web developer” hat firmly on that curly head of hers and gives advice you can use immediately and get a result for your sites. Want proof? Check out this video of her speaking at the internal Yahoo developer summit:

Nicole Sullivan: "Design Fast Websites" @ Yahoo! Video

I’ve seen Nicole several times, been with her at Paris Web and The Ajax Experience and can safely say it’ll be cool to have her share her wisdom with more people out there.

Image Optimization made easy with

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Dedication is a really nice thing. Esteemed Yahoo colleagues Stoyan Stefanov and Nicole Sullivan of the exceptional performance team are two people who are dedicated to making the web a faster place.

Both Nicole and Stoyan have been talking about performance of CSS, JavaScript, HTML and also image optimization. Images can be optimized in two ways: visually (what is the quality) and file size. The latter is quite a corker, though as image editing tools leave a lot of information in files that we don’t really need – EXIF information, to be precise. If you open an image in a hex editor you will find a lot of things that can be safely removed without a change in the image quality.

There are a lot of open source tools to optimize images that way – amost one for each image format. Working through all of them can be a drag. This is why Stoyan and Nicole took their knowledge, dedication and all of these tools and built one application that does all the optimizations for you in one go:

Smushit Screenshot

You can upload a bunch of images, give it a URL or use it as a Firefox extension or bookmarklet. Smushit will show you how many bytes you can save by removing cruft from the images and gives you all the images as a zip file to replace them on your site. How cool and easy is that?

Here’s a video of Stoyan and Nicole presenting at The Ajax Experience in Boston (sorry about the audio):