Is it just me or has Gmail become slower and less responsive lately? I have been an avid Gmail user since I received my account invitation. It took a while for me to get used to its approach to email. Like most of us, I have been accustomed to organizing my emails in various folders, so I found it a bit unsettling when I had to abandon the notion of folders in favor of conversation-affinity and labels.
What drew me to Gmail in the beginning was the seemingly endless storage in stark contrast to other free email providers with their paltry capacities. Gmail's mantra of "search, don't sort" finally won me over. True to its claim, I no longer need to contemplate deleting emails. When in doubt, I just archive them. The quick search has certainly been a boon and has saved me quite a bit of time when I need to find a certain email.
Gmail's usage of AJAX, however, doesn't dazzle me much. Okay, so the whole page doesn't have to be repainted as I navigate the system. Big deal, I still have to wait for the meat of the page (the emails) to be displayed on my browser. In my opinion, the whole concept of AJAX is a bit overblown. True that AJAX does away with full blast page trips to the server, but when you have to wait for the main content to arrive at your browser, the irritation factor is just the same, at least to me. But lately that irritation has been on the rise as Gmail takes longer to refresh content and sometimes it fails entirely and comes up blank. Other times it flashes an "oops" error message, as shown here.
The end result is that I have to close the dialog box and click on the refresh button of my browser, which defeats the whole purpose of AJAX. I must assume that over time, Gmail has seen a surge in users and the servers have become less responsive servicing all the users. I suppose that's a good problem for Gmail to have attracted so many users. Now that Gmail has won over so many with its innovative approach and spiffy interface, it's time to get cracking on its backend infrastructure. That work is probably not as sexy as the front-end, but it's probably even more critical in keeping the application fluid.