Site performance—caching and file aggregation—is it worth it?

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02Aug2017

Site performance—caching and file aggregation—is it worth it?

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580 hits Updated: 10 January 2018

Disable Joomla’s cache features

CSS/Javascript file aggregation: who needs it?

I wrote previously about the general theory of website caching.  There are circumstances when site caching can be useful and there are other circumstances—especially when people are attempting to diagnose, analyse and solve operational issues—when caching can become a headache.  As a general point, caching can be useful where “speed”—as far as the end user is concerned—is the number one criterion.

Similarly, when people turn to Google for recommendations on ways to “improve” [the end user perception of] performance, we find suggestions about using file aggregation, minification or obfuscation methods.  These are not related to caching but they are involved in overall “site performance” for want of a better description.

The bottom-line is that website caching, data compression and file aggregation/minification/obfuscation may help—and there is empirical evidence to support that contention—but they add administration overheads and, ultimately, their presence may not be beneficial—and there is a body of anecdotal evidence to support this opinion.  The problems caused by caching et al are the subjects of thousands of discussions in online technical forums; in most cases these problems are quickly and effortlessly resolved by disabling or removing those facilities.  This article provides information on the common techniques that people employ in Joomla and how to disable such features that they’ve (perhaps unwittingly) enabled or installed.

The excuses people make …

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01Jan2017

The excuses people make …

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1223 hits Updated: 17 January 2018

Why people don’t update Joomla

Every website is a business in some form or another[1] and how you manage your website determines the success or otherwise of your business.  If you spend time cultivating your website, investing in developing new content, new software and general maintenance, your customers—the people who visit your site—will notice the difference and will return again.  If you treat your site like a “field of dreams”—if you expect your business to flourish simply because you created a website (and that was the total extent of your time and energy)—then you’re in for a wake-up call.

Every website is a business in some form or another and the first order of business is to cover your operating expenses.  You can (a) charge people to pay to view your site, (b) encourage people to donate their time and/or money to help with your running costs and/or (c) obtain revenue via in-site advertising.  The success of your business depends on how well others enjoy doing business with you, whether they’ll visit your site, buy your products or refer others to your site and do the same and, hopefully, give you some profit at the end of the day.  This website is no different.  There are a couple of advertisements that appear on the pages—I certainly appreciate the tiny click-rate revenue they give me—but, I hope, they’re not too invasive.  How a site owner designs their site and runs their business is entirely up to them, of course; I’m not suggesting otherwise.

There are three kinds of people in this world:  those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.  The success of your business is in your hands and is dependent on the kind of person you are.  Are you an entrepreneur, a passive observer or a victim of circumstances?

The one constant we can rely upon is that everything changes and, depending on the type of person you are, people manufacture a variety of excuses to rationalise why they’re unable to deal with inevitable change—the blame game.  This article will help you identify whether you’re at risk of playing the blame game and how to rid yourself from the burden of using outdated, unsupported and vulnerable software.

To cache or not to cache?

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06Dec2016

To cache or not to cache?

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673 hits Updated: 07 December 2016

What is web caching?

Types of caches

Caching:  bene­fits and dis­ad­van­tages

There are many myths about caching—for example, some people believe that HTTPS does not cache web pages—but there’s a lot of ignorance about how to use caching effectively.  This article doesn’t have all the answers but it may help people learn about web caching and some of the benefits, costs and risks associated with how you use it.

A web cache (or HTTP cache) is an information technology for the temporary storage of web documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce bandwidth usage, server load and perceived lag.[1]  Because generating web content over the internet is both slow and expensive and, in today’s fast-paced and time-constrained world, most people’s attention span barely survives one or two seconds, one of the main purposes of caching is to improve the user experience.  Large responses for information can involve many roundtrips between the client and server which delays when they are available and when the browser can process them, and also incur data costs for the visitor.  In other words, caching helps reduce the cost involved between when the user clicks a mouse/presses a key/taps a screen and when an “event” (such as displaying a new web page) occurs.

The ability to cache and reuse previously fetched resources is a critical part of optimising for performance.  The wrong use of caching, on the other hand, can also be counter-productive as we shall discuss.

The last word about Kunena

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09Oct2016

The last word about Kunena

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3712 hits Updated: 18 January 2018

Latest Kunena uses your website to solicit donations to the Kunena project

Tips to protect your forum from exploitation

Removing the “Powered by Kunena” text

Some people may be curious about the title I’ve chosen for this article.  Before people become concerned about my state of mind—am I really not going to write about Kunena anymore or is this the end of my {kun´ēzē} business—I have a few words to say about recent changes in this popular Joomla extension.  There are a couple of hidden surprises in the latest versions of Kunena that may make you think twice about wanting to install them.

At the outset, you do not need to be alarmed or feel nervous that the latest version will make your websites any more vulnerable than what they currently are.  The changes in Kunena version 4.0.12 [K 4.0.12] and 5.0.2 [K 5.0.2] will not make websites any more or less secure than the previous releases.  There have been a couple of minor technical improvements—those are the facts—but there have also been changes that may upset some people:  one change, in particular, that challenges the reasons people choose Kunena in the first place!  The good news is that the “last word” in this article will help reduce those fears.