WordPress galore: plugin bugs, android app, json-api & wp 3.0

Some random WordPress-related thingies I’ve been looking into;

  • I bumped into a weird bug in css-js-booster which caused error-messages like
    <!-- Booster had a problems finding wp-content/
    3f540bbd99f8ebecb73880a685db76ae_plain.css -->

    to appear in the html-source, although all CSS seemed to be processed. The problem was caused by PHP’s safe_mode and got fixed in 0.2.2, thanks der Schepp!

  • A few days ago my entire WordPress-blog returned empty pages, the admin-section included. Turns out that this “white screen of death” is a known issue with the WP super-cache plugin when combined with PHP APC (2 of the main components of my “Speed up WordPress“-post). As this only occurs rarely, I’ll stick to restarting Apache for now (I don’t want to switch back to eAccelerator) but I hope the APC and WP Super-Cache teams will look into this further.
  • After ditching Google Analytics, I looked into how WordPress stats are collected. Indeed, the script is sourced at the end of the HTML, thus slowing down the rendering of the page.  Let’s hope someone at Auttomatic reads Steve Soulders’ very interesting blogposts on “Performance of 3rd Party Content” and decides it indeed is time follow Google Analytics’ example and switch to asynchronous loading of the WordPress stats Javascript.
  • I installed the WordPress Android application and played around with it a bit. I don’t think I’ll be posting with it any time soon; writing on a small touch-device is a hassle, there’s no such thing as a rich HTML editor and  updating pages and especially posts or comments is very slow (because of the incredible overhead and complexity of the xml-rpc API?). Still, nice to see the WordPress-icon on my HTC Hero 😉
  • Thinking about that clumsy WordPress xml-rpc API (which I experimented with approx. 1 year ago), I started looking for a plugin that provides a rest/json api. JSON API does just that and it has great potential, but it might not be suited for public-facing WordPress installations just yet, as it allows unauthenticated users to create new posts. So you might want to wait for authentication to be added to JSON API before installing it?
  • And I just read that the first beta of WordPress 3.0 was released; wordpress and wordpress.MU get merged, menu management and a new theme are but a few of the new features. Wouldn’t is be great if functionality/ ideas from wp-super-cache, css-js-booster and json-api would be added as well?

Speed up your (WordPress-)site!

Google likes fast! Visitors like fast! So why don’t you go make your site really fast?
Suppose you just bought yourself hosting and you just installed WordPress for blogging or lightweight-CMS-purposes, how can you improve your site’s performance in that case? Easy!
  1. speed up PHP: use a caching optimizer (I use APC) to significantly speed up PHP performance (don’t bother  signing up for shared hosting with a company that doesn’t offer PHP with acceleration).
  2. cache dynamic output: install the “WP Super Cache” WordPress plugin. Configure and then forget about it; if you create/edit a blogpost, impacted pages are automatically removed from cache.
  3. optimize CSS and JS: install the “CSS JS booster” WordPress plugin, which (amongst other things) grabs all CSS and JS from WordPress and Plugins and outputs it in one CSS- and one JS-file (some plugins, e.g. Sociable and WordPress Mobile Pack, might need tweaking of the css media-attribute though) UPDATE: CSS JS booster has not been updated since 2010 and I switched to (and later even took over development of) Autoptimize for JS, CSS & HTML optimization.
  4. avoid calling 3rd party javascript: tracking (e.g. Google Analytics, which I removed), widgets (e.g. Twitter badges) or other 3rd party gadgets (e.g. AddToAny, which I removed) can slow down your site’s performance significantly
  5. optimize images: fire up your favorite photo editor and make that image just a bit smaller, use an acceptable level of compression (I end up between 70 and 80% for JPEG’s, depending on the image) and upload to smushit.com to squeeze out the last optimization-drop (example; I used a 20KB picture from Flickr, resized it to 80%, saved it with 77% compression and smushed it to end up with a mere 6KB).

The impact of a number of these steps can be measured easily; below are the response times of my blog’s homepage (the  html including css, js and images) as measured by Pingdom Tool’s Full Page Test.

  1. default WordPress (on a Linux VPS with 320Mb RAM memory): 6.5 seconds
  2. (1)  with PHP APC activated: 4.1 seconds
  3. (2) with WP Super Cache: 3.1 seconds
  4. (3) with CSS JS Booster: 1.3 seconds

So there you have it, from 6.5 to 1.3 seconds in only 5 easy steps! WordPress specific, but easily applicable to other platforms as well. Now go and make your site fast! And then go and make it even faster!