The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

15

Active Modules logo2009 is a year that will see the roll out of a large number of major changes to CLUAS. For the moment I confidently say that the CLUAS.com site, within a few months, will look hugely different and will offer new services to visitors. But the changes are not only visible ones, almost as important will be changes that will be put in place behind the scenes.

The first changes of the year were already put in place last week when the software that runs the CLUAS Discussion board ("Active Forums") was upgraded to the latest version. Such an upgrade usually delivers an incremental improvement. However this time the upgrade has delivered a quite dramatic improvement of the discussion board (especially in terms of speed) compared to the previous version. This is simply down to the fact that the guys who developed the software (Active Modules) started again from scratch and, for the latest version, re-built it from the ground up. The result is a discussion board that loads up in the browser so much faster than before. This is thanks, for example, to:

  1. a big reduction in the number of round trips the CLUAS website would have to make to the site's database each time a discussion board page is requested by a user; and
  2. a reduction in the memory 'footprint' of the discussion board (i.e. the amount of web server memory that is 'hogged' by the discussion board).

See the table below for a few examples of the reductions that have been put in place.

 

old version

new version

Server Footprint    
    Memory Utilization

64-128kb+

0

    Session State

~2kb/user

0

     
Trips to the Database    
    Main discussion board page 4 + 2 per forum

1

    List of Topics View

4 to 6

1

    Single Topic View 4 + 2 per reply

1

This sort of reduction in 'demand' on the database is vital for a site such as CLUAS that is hosted on a 'shared server' where there are many other websites (possible even over 100 other sites) hosted on the same server. A potential consequence of this is, if CLUAS was to hog too many of the available resources (CPU, memory, etc), we could be booted off the shared server (where we are charged the modest amount of US$16/95 a month) and asked to move to a dedicated server which would cost over US$200 a month (a minimum of USD$130 for the web server + US$75 for the database). Needless to say the more CLUAS can do to decrease its use of the CPU and memory resources on our shared server, the better.

But it's not just performance improvements. There are lots of other improvements, which I'll be exposing on the discussion board in the coming while. All in all, the upgrade was well worth the approx US$100 the software cost (paid for out of the CLUAS Google Ads revenues of last year).

That said there still remain a few things that, post-upgrade, still need to be fine-tuned. For example we have always had a script of code that automatically pulls the latest discussion threads and puts a link to them on the home page. This 'script' no longer works because of changes to how forum hook into the database but - with the help of Stephen McNulty - the script on the home page will soon be updated to work with the new version of the discussion board software.

While the last month on the board has been quieter than normal I am fully confident that with time the changes described above, and those in the pipeline, will ensure the board gets back to its usual levels of activity.

Update 15 January: Something during the upgrade broke the RSS feeds on CLUAS and I had to totally roll back the upgrade and re-apply it. This meant some of the content added to the site in the last week (in particular some discussion forum replies) was lost. For more details on this see this thread on the CLUAS discussion board.


More ...

[Read More...]

Posted in: Blogs, Promenade
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

Search Articles

Nuggets from our archive

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited CLUAS.com to read this very article.