Archives For performance

This is the third and final issue of my two-part newsletter on “going big”. (Yes, third in a two-part series.) By “going big” I mean how one transitions from a Web site with little to moderate traffic, to one that can handle tons of traffic. The first newsletter looked at going big from the macro perspective: theory, implementation, hardware, and networking. The second newsletter was the first look at the micro perspective: how to write code that scales well. The emphasis there was on the code itself, along with the development process.

In this newsletter, I’ll provide a couple of resources for two other key components: the underlying database and the user’s browser. As always, questions, comments, and all feedback are much appreciated. And thanks for your interest in what I have to say and do!

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Joshua Thijssen just posted on Speaker Deck the slides for his presentation “15 Pro-tips for MySQL Users”. As the name implies, for the most part, the tips are for more advanced MySQL users, although a couple are the kinds of things I would hope most MySQL users are already doing. There’s plenty to learn here, or at least consider, and it doesn’t take long to peruse. (And, there are actually 16 tips.)

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A team of very smart Web developers recently posted “How to lose weight (in the browser)”. This is a front-end guide to improving the performance of your Web site.

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I recently discovered gzipWTF, and am so glad I did. The tool, currently in beta, takes a look at a Web site and reports which resources are being compressed (using gzip, which browsers can decompress, among other formats) and which are not. As compression has an impact on your site’s speed, and is relatively simple to implement, this no-brainer verification tool ought to be run on everyone’s site. Just enter your site’s URL, fill out the CAPTCHA, and click the button to see the results. If there’s any resource that’s not being compressed, get your hands dirty on your site to fix the problem. The end result will be a site that loads faster for users, and could also mean better Google rankings, since performance is a Google criteria. Could not be easier!

In trying to improve my site’s performance, starting with using the YSlow! Firefox extension, I came across the concept of “smushing” images. is a Yahoo! service (which is why it’s tied to YSlow!) that optimizes images in such a way as to reduce their size without adversely affecting image quality. I believe I reduced my total image size by about 10-15%, which isn’t huge, but when you’re talking about Web site optimization, every little bit helps. The only thing to be aware of is that sometimes GIFs will get turned into more efficient PNGs, meaning you’ll need to change your HTML accordingly.