New West: An Analysis Project - Hop Studios

Cap'n's log

New West: An Analysis Project

Th' phone rang recently and on th' other end be New West, an online publication that covers Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyomin', Utah and so forth.  Their site be built in ExpressionEngine, and they wanted someone who could do development on small projects fer them when their main developer be workin' on bigger site changes.

We said aye, and undertook th' first project: A “doctor’s second opinion” analysis o' their current site architecture, t' figure out if there be any way they could improve their site’s performance.  Like wi' many new media sites, traffic at New West has not been its own reward: morrrr page views and people visitin' always means morrrr expense and th' need fer bigger hardware.  And bigger hardware also often means th' dread “M” word: migration.  So New West wanted a consultation before they made any big changes.

Th' main site developer had done an excellent job o' makin' th' site efficient in dozens o' ways, but wi' our fresh eyes and our extended experience wi' ExpressionEngine in production environments, we be able t' spot several additional technniques t' optimize th' site’s code.

One optimization we found be that a vestigial bit o' code be intermittently addin' very small row o' data t' an indexed database table, and had been doin' so fer months; meanwhile, th' code t' clear th' table had been removed.  By th' time we analyzed it, th' table had grown t' 6,700,000 records.  Addin' data t' a table be fairly simple, but indexin' that much data can be a drain on resources if not done properly.  By carefully isolatin' th' cause, and determinin' th' least disruptive method o' disablin' that behavior, we be able t' improve database performance measurably—and cut th' time and space needed fer backups as well.

Site performance—and th' factors that influence it—can be notoriously hard t' pin down, but it’s likely that our changes will ensure th' site can handle increased traffic, especially at peak times, on th' current hardware.

What’s th' bottom line outcome fer New West? Savin' doubloons and improvin' site performance fer their visitors.  Code analysis and optimization might not be th' “sexiest” thin' ye can think o' doin' fer yer site, but th' end results can be quite beneficial.


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