Site Redesign and Restructure

I have nearly completed a site redesign and restructure. I may write more at a later time, but the key elements have been:

  • Add an informal blog
  • Eliminate PHP for most pages
  • Provide HTML and XHTML versions of most content and index pages
  • Provide compressed versions of any content (specifically RSS/Atom) feeds which get requested often
  • Use Google Adsense consistently throughout site
  • Complete upgrade to MovableType 3.2

Why did I eliminate PHP? I found that I was using PHP almost entirely as a smart template and file imbedding tool. This is not a knock against PHP, but I found it to be overkill for what I was doing. I restructured the templates used for the Articles and blog so that they emit clean HTML and XHTML, performing whatever includes I'd been using PHP for from within MovableType.

I had been using PHP's built-in gzip compression to serve up compressed files but as a performance-weenie felt that that was a poor optimization: the server had to compress data on the fly for each request.

So one of the major goals was to rely on Apache's own features more and less on hacks in PHP scripts. Ideally I'd use mod_gzip as well but that is not presently supported on Pair networks' servers.

There's now an informal blog on the site, 202 Accepted. The title comes from one of the lesser known HTTP status codes. I plan to make this section (Articles) more about reference content and move opinion and conference notes to the blog.

Back to Apache...all major index pages are provided in HTML and XHTML formats. They are also compressed. Apache's content-negotiation is used to serve an appropriate file back. Once I determine how to patch MovableType to compress data after writing a file then the MovableType generated content will also be served compressed.

Now, no, I don't get so much traffic that this is a concern, but I wanted to get a real-life demonstration going of what's possible with a generic web hosting setup. It's my contention that with the typical hosting package, anyone can run a relatively high volume content site (if the volume is against content and not applications).

The upgrade to MovableType 3.2 was almost flawless. One hiccup has been, and continues to be, using the SixApart provided JavaScript files with XHTML pages. In brief, they rely on document.write, which is not supported in the DOM model used on XHTML pages. I had previously rewritten the JavaScript to work on XHTML and just need to patch in the latest updates. For now, typekey authentication only works on HTML pages.

Posted in Miscellany

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