Archives for November 2008
In trying to crack this conundrum myself, I decided to ask sysadmins directly – “What do you think about agile? Would you consider using it in your daily work?”
Software tools are usually inferior in terms of simplicity and visibility. Most agile project management tools provide you a way of entering nearly unlimited text for any story. This can easily lead to hyper-detailed descriptions which get outdated very easily, and bury developers with information rather than fostering discussion. And software tools are never ubiquitous: You may or may not start them on your system and even if they are opened you usually hide them behind your currently active tools like your IDE.
Last week a new colleague of a former colleague of mine 😉 asked me: “How can I get agile started? I really like the ideas but don’t know where to begin or how to convince others around me to try it out. What should I do?”
Getting started with agile is not easy. First, you have to convince everybody that it’s a good idea to try it and then, if you really managed to get the ball rolling, you begin to uncover all the hidden problems which have existed since decades in your development processes. Ouch. Only if you make it through these two phases will you be blessed with the advantages of an agile process: high speed, high quality, high visibility and high value of what you are doing.
Today I want to show you one way to tackle the first hurdle.
Hopefully, you have a better idea about how (un)performant and (un)optimized your website is after going through some of the tools I introduced you to last week. You’ve made the first step in getting to know more about how your site is really served to your users. Now, I’ll start walking you through some of the basic things you can do to start tuning up your website.
Ever caught yourself saying “yeah, I know the homepage is a bit heavy but the users only have to load it once – after that, it’ll be cached and much faster”. Well, according to Tenni Theurer, last year roughly half of the visitors that come through Yahoo! had an empty cache – meaning they have to download all the images and scripts on the page. This means that even if your page is viewed as often as Yahoo!’s, a lot of your users will be having to download all the content on a daily basis. Even if you’re lucky enough to earn more than one page view per day, you should definitely be streamlining your homepage for the long haul. After all, you want these users to come back, right?
As you might remember, I recently interviewed Kent about the new Joyent Accelerators. I’ve now had a chance to give the new Joyent Accelerator template (version 2.1.3) a spin. The current release is 2.1.4 including some updates, which I’ll point out below. Joyent provided me with two Accelerators for one week to try ’em out. Being a guy who normally tweaks everything to his liking (I’m kind of a perfectionist), I didn’t expect much from the pre-installed software. Usually, when I start using a box with pre-installed packages I delete most of what’s there and then install and configure to my preferences.
This was my first surprise in testing out the Accelerator. It comes with tons of software pre-installed, but, instead of generating an urge to get rid of it as fast as possible, I found everything set up very much in a way I couldn’t have done better. In fact, I have to admit that I learned one or two things I could use to tweak my own setup 😉
In the following sections I want to share with you the details about what I tested and how I liked it.
Since Steve Souders’s published “High Performance Websites” back in September 2007, a lot of people finally sat up and took notice of front-end web performance optimization techniques. Over a year later, you’d hope that most folks had figured out the basics like compressing content, using expires headers and reducing requests. Unfortunately, it seems that multi-core processors and bandwidth explosions have pretty much drowned out the awareness of this topic. Case in point, take a look at the search trends for mod_gzip vs. mod_deflate over the last 5 years.
Doesn’t exactly represent a growing trend, does it?