Performance anxiety

posted by Jeff | Friday, July 25, 2014, 11:47 PM | comments: 0

One of the most fun things for me in software is figuring out how to make things faster. Performance is an issue we all face at some point making software, even if we put it off because the premature optimization can be wasteful. Some people geek out when they can get something to run a few milliseconds faster, others revel in achievement when they can make something work in half the time.

I need to remind people here that "performant" is a made up word. At the very least, it isn't an English adjective. Stop saying it!

At work we're doing some performance enhancement work in this sprint and the next, and I think at the moment we're likely to be successful. I'm working with really capable developers, too, which makes it more fun. It got me to thinking about my own projects, too, and where there's room for improvement.

Starting in 2007 or so, I started to pay more attention, making my sites faster. For example, the PointBuzz home page tends to render in under 30 ms. That's pretty exciting. Old and new versions of the forums render pages typically in under 100 ms. Granted, the Internet between you and the sites can add all kinds of latency, but at least from a code standpoint, these things are super fast.

Recently I was having all kinds of memory issues that are new to me because I'm using cloud resources to host the sites. I can add more memory literally with a few clicks, but there is a dollar cost associated with that. So now I'm looking into ways I can handle that. Ironically enough, the memory footprint is so big because I cache so much stuff in memory, the same thing that makes it fast. 

Sometimes I can feel really bogged down by what I do for a living, but stuff like this is interesting and fun. And you generally learn something, too!


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