digg article featured a Javascript templating system called RND.

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Me, myself, and my code.

The RND benchmarks

12 August 2006

Recently, a digg article featured a Javascript templating system called RND.

RND is touted as a “fast and simple JS template system”. I can categorically state that it is indeed fast and simple. Those are exactly the reasons why I like it.

You’re probably asking yourself “Well how fast is it?” . So fast in fact, that the author decided to post benchmarks of his solution against similar solutions written using innerHTML, the W3C DOM functions, and AmiJS. His benchmarks showed time and time again that his solution was notably faster than the pure DOM function methods! This surprised me to say the least, so I decided to take a look.

Now you’re probably want to ask me “Joe, if you like it, why do all this work?” Well, simply because I was bored and I was curious.

I quickly found issue with the basic dom example in the initial version of the benchmark.

The first thing I noticed was line 34:

    AJS.RCN(cnt, span);

Wait a second? Why are we using AJS if we want to test basic DOM.

A quick look at AJS. RCN gives us:

    //Shortcut: AJS.RCN
    replaceChildNodes: function(node/*, nodes...*/) {
        var child;
        while ((child = node.firstChild))
            node. removeChild(child);

        if (arguments.length < 2)
            return node;
            return this.appendChildNodes.apply(this, arguments);
        return node;

That seems like a lot of extra processing for the sake of this benchmark, so I just replaced the AJS. RCN call with the following:

    while(cnt.firstChild) {

Well, that’s a lot shorter!

I almost thought I was done, then I saw a lingering innerHTML used in the basic DOM test being used to create a text node. Shouldn’t we be using the dom function createTextNode?

A quick rewrite modified the entire function. At that point I added functionality to compare the output of the different tests against each other, and in the process changed the majority of the files. The new version is available in this zip.

The archive contains the following files:

  • test. html - The original test file I was comparing against.
  • test-fixed. html - My “fixed” version of the test with corrected basic DOM.
  • test-unfairdom. html - While I was writing this solution, a poster to the blog’s comments by the name of Matt made passing mention that while loops are slower in Internet Explorer. I have not tested this, but just in case I created this version, which uses a hacky if statement instead of a while loop to remove the elements. This is sort of cheating, since I make use of the fact that I already know how many elements would be placed in the element before we have to replace them.

It’s also worth noting that in my examples I changed the number of times the test is run from 10 to 20 as I got less variation in my averages. YMMV.

Please check it out! Correct me where I’m wrong, and let me know where I’m right. I like to learn from my mistakes. :)

I was going to post my benchmark results, but I can only test against Konqueror and Firefox right now. I welcome results from the internet at large. ;)


The same Matt from before was kind enough to note that my previous implementation is not fair, as it does not simulate a templated system but just creates static elements! So I’ve made modifications to my benchmark in order to correct this mistake. :)

It’s not perfect, but it’s my last attempt. I’m way too tired to continue.

You can find the file here