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Early thoughts on NewsGator Online Beta

February 28, 2007 1 comment

My RSS newsreader of choice is NetNewsWire. I had purchased it a few months before Brent Simmons sold his company to NewsGator and as a result of that purchase, I was able to obtain a premium NewsGator Online subscription for 2 years which allowed for synchronization of my desktop Mac with the web-based reader.

The web-based reader NewsGator Online whilst functional was not known for its performance, an area touched upon by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch in a recent post which analysed market share of various online readers

Newsgator online, a feature fantastic service long plagued with deal-breaking performance problems, is trailing in third place with a mere %3 of views. The company’s desktop feed readers, NetNewsWire and FeedDemon, probably have a much larger percentage of views as they are older, more stable products.

After reading an editorial on ajaxian wrt newsgator perceived slowness, I wrote to a few newsgator employees and investors about some ideas I thought which might improve performance

I had discussed these in my community blog a while back

Brian Kellner (GM consumer) wrote back to me that they were going to launch an ajax version of their online reader which would reduce page refreshes and was optimized for client side caching. Today, I received instructions on how to access the beta site. The email from Brian indicated that it was okay to blog about it (yeah, no NDA unlike the Joost invite I got)

I fired up Fiddler and tried to analyse the network traffic. As someone who lives in a different continent to NewsGator servers in a city with tremendous local connectivity, web traffic analysis via a sniffer is a regular excercise

Some early disappointments

Looking at the traffic sent out by Newsgator Online beta via Fiddler , I see that there is a lot of request/response for content with type image/gif and image/jpeg coming from http://www.newsgator.com without any cache-friendly headers (Expires, Cache-Control)

Some Suggestions for performance improvement

Always send images with a Cache-Friendly header

Move the images to either a separate domain or a new sub-domain. Currently because the images are sent from newsgator.com, there is an unnecessary Cookie: header sent from the browser for all images. It should be easy for newsgator to buy a new domain and use that exclusively for image/static content serving.

An example of a request for http://www.newsgator.com/ngs/subscriber/reader/img/folderopen.gif generates a request of size 1025 bytes (dominated by the Cookie: header) for a response of 677 bytes which is further divided into an actual payload (image size) of 353 bytes and 324 bytes for the header. Remove the Cookie header and the request becomes only 334 bytes. One could tune the image server a bit and reduce the bytes used by the response header

Also, one would expect all html/javascript to be sent via Content-Encoding: gzip for all responses of those Content-type but there are quite a number of responses of those content type sent without being gzipped.

I can understand some reluctance with gzipping Javascript since there are quirks with IE (though if I remember correctly, IE6 SP2/IE 7 handles this correctly). Even use of jsmin would give around 25-30% reduction in size

On the bright side, page refreshes are reduced a lot in the beta.

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Upgraded to WordPress 2.1.1

February 21, 2007 Comments off

As mentioned in a previous post, I was going to upgrade to WordPress 2.1 after it’s release. Well, I had upgraded to it but didn’t mention it on this blog, today I decided to upgrade to 2.1.1 by creating a diff between 2.1 and 2.1.1. Going to turn on mysql query caching (if that’s possible at Dreamhost). Maybe I should ask Dreamhost support if query caching is enabled

Categories: Blogging Toolchains

Upgraded to WordPress 2.0.7

January 15, 2007 Comments off

As I mentioned in my last post, I was waiting for the release of WordPress 2.0.7 before upgrading this blog. Upgrade was smooth. I was considering adding support for WordPress widgets but may probably wait till 2.1 is released

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Categories: Blogging Toolchains

Planning the WordPress upgrade

January 12, 2007 Comments off

Saw that this blog was still on 2.0.4 and was going to upgrade to 2.0.6 for the security fixes and other bugfixes. However, a quick review of the wp-testers list indicated that 2.0.7 is imminent and so I’ll be holding of till that.

I still have to see if there are any issues with PHP 5.2

I am really looking forward to WordPress 2.1 slated to come towards the end of January. Might even experiment with some theme changes at that time.

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Categories: Blogging Toolchains

Updated to the latest NNW beta

March 17, 2006 Comments off

Brent Simmons has posted beta builds of the latest NetNewsWire beta. I wasn’t one of the really early worms but I snagged myself 2.1b7. So far, it’s very spiffy and snappy.

Love the NewsGator syncing. I’m really looking forward to the 2-yr subscription of NewsGator online I get for being a NNW customer. Posting to blogs via MarsEdit rocks also.

Did the security drill with WordPress 2.0.2

March 10, 2006 Comments off

Firing up my favorite RSS reader NetNewsWire, I saw the WordPress crew had put a security fix update for WordPress.

With the easy upgrade instructions. It was all over in a jiffy

Now back to your regular scheduled programming 🙂

Categories: Blogging Toolchains

Upgraded to WordPress 2.0.1

February 20, 2006 Comments off

I wanted to do this via the one click option offerred by my webhost but in the end decided to do via the old fashioned way of following the instructions in the codex

Upgrade seems to have gone smoothly. Now to investigate the features provided by WordPress 2.0.1

Categories: Blogging Toolchains
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