vue html variables

published on the 15 Nov 2020
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  • vue

Let's see how you can cut down on TLS handshake times by understanding how we can leverage vue-cli's environment variables in our index.html file.

vue and dotenv

Vue's (as well as React's) ecosystem uses .env files to define its environment variables. These variables will be made available to you at compile-time under process.env, as long as you prefix each variable with VUE_APP_*. Therefore, you could target an environment-specific API with process.env.VUE_APP_API_HOST.

preconnect

preconnect is a powerful resource hint via the HTML <link> tag, which goes into your document's head. It tells the browser to establish a connection with the target host in parallel to your CSS & JS still being loaded/parsed. Meaning once your JS is parsed and it wants to make requests, the browser can skip certain parts of initiating a connection, because preconnect has already gone ahead and told the browser to do that way before we made the request. Namely, preconnect:

  1. performs a DNS lookup (this can also be achieved with <link rel="dns-prefetc">
  2. performs a TCP handshake
  3. does TLS negotiation for HTTPS sites

I feel this is crucial for modern SPAs, where Time-To-Interactive often suffers. Let's say that your SPA somehow establishes a user session with a provider (imagine GitHub, Firebase, Auth0 or whatnot) & loads in some data from your API. You could speed up those for-sure-to-happen requests by preconnecting to their hosts:

<link rel="preconnect" href="https://api.example.com" />

<link rel="preconnect" href="https://login.example.com" />

duct tape time

Whilst the example above is great for a proof of concept, ideally we'd want to take our local, staging and other environments as close as possible to our production setup. And resource hints should be no exception. In theory, you could just spam your document's head full of preconnect tags, but please don't. This will tie up a bit of resources on the target server and steal your own page's resources as it establishes a connection with each domain.

Instead, we can leverage Vue's environment variables right in our index.html file! If you're using vue-cli, you're all set already. If not, you'd have to configure the html-webpack-plugin yourself.

We'll have to use the EJS template syntax in our HTML file, which would make the 2 static tags above turn into:

<link rel="preconnect" href="<%= VUE_APP_AUTH_DOMAIN %>" />

<link rel="preconnect" href="<%= VUE_APP_API_DOMAIN %>" />

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