I got prompted to update my Firefox 4 to Firefox 5 beta last week. New features include better standards support, speed improvements, better integration with Linux desktops, in-browser software channel selection and support for CSS animations. The final version of FF5 is expected to ship on June 21th.
Firefox 5 will probably not include one of the much discussed hidden features in Chrome 13; the possibility to hide the navigation bar, but Mozilla indeed is experimenting with that as well. I’ve got Mozillalabs Prospector’s Simplify Firefox add-on installed on my netbook and in that 1024X600 context the extra screen real estate is a huge advantage. On the other hand, on my 1440X900 work laptop screen I don’t need (or want) those measly extra pixels. Maybe hiding the navigation bar should be an option which is by default off on normal-sized screens and is automatically turned on for screens with a netbook-like resolution?
So what would a small-time web-tech blogger all of a sudden need Amazon EC2 or Google App Engine expertise for? For his real job, that’s why!
On Thursday, May 12th someone pretty high up in the company hierarchy decided we had to have a web application ready on the 19th. The catch: it had to be able to handle a shitload of traffic in only 2 days time. After consulting with a couple of specialists and reviewing our options, we decided to go for it with our existing web-development partner. Because of available expertise and resources however, we decided to switch from J2EE to .Net and to deploy the application on Microsoft’s “platform as a service” offering, called Azure.
In 5 days time (what weekend was that?), using a shared Google Docs spreadsheet as project hub (for bug-list, todo’s, translation strings and in document IM) the application was developed, tested and hammered upon with a huge load-test and on Wednesday-evening the final version was deployed on Azure.
The most interesting technical tidbits (as designed by a smart and very motivated lead-developer):
The application handled a huge amount of traffic the first two days. Due to circumstances the load was especially high on Thursday morning (with over 800 HTTP-requests/second), but performance and availability remained perfect. It was like walking on this fluffy cloud, really:
I’m all of a sudden developing a keen interest in Amazon EC2 & simpledb (or RDS), but Google AppEngine might be an acceptable alternative. Do contact me if you have hands-on experience with webapps developed for and deployed on those platforms, or if you know someone who does. We could be in for a fun little project! :-)