October 14, 2011
By David McKelvey
A faster page means a better user experience, so as part of our ongoing improvements to the site and to remove a potential server issue (perhaps related to our recent server issues), I’ve just written some code to improve select caching of remote content such as the search dropdown, the Administration section and many of the “Contact Us” sections that appear directly beneath each site’s navigation and faculty information that is auto-filled on faculty pages.
The search dropdown was no slouch, but cached results means that subsequent requests for the same term(s) are at least ten, sometimes twenty times faster (around 60ms to between 2-5ms).
Administration / Contact Us
We’ve been switching many of the Contact Us sections to use the directory (our authoritative resource of organizational information) so that it matches the contact information in Administration. Prior to today, when LiveWhale generates each page (every five minutes) the contact information was requested from the directory in real-time and would often take as much as a second to produce. Subsequent requests now only take 2-5ms. (It is refreshed daily.)
When you load a faculty member’s page, a good portion of the faculty information (name, title, office location, phone, email, etc.) that appears on faculty pages is requested in real-time from the search engine (where we store the people data we collect daily from Colleague). Now, that only occurs on the first visit to the page — all subsequent visits that day are cached. This means that the resulting in a page that loads an average of five times faster.