Scaling Up: Baby Steps (a.k.a. Asking The Right Questions)

Before we actually get started hacking on our code, let’s make sure we’ve got the right questions asked and answered. We’re going to need some resources, the help of others in our organization, and probably some understanding of the current system structure before we’re successful in our goal.

Some of these questions may seem mundane, and others will be extremely important. But we must ask and receive answers to all of them, so let’s get started.

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Monday, February 16th, 2009 @ 6:30 am | Comments (0) | Categories: Business Management, Web Architecture, Best Practices, System Architecture
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Scaling Up: Making Your Website Stand Up To Traffic

The ability to turn a website into a large web service is a skill that’s deeply important amongst web application developers, but yet I’ve found it to be somewhat lacking. How is it that this fundamental skill is so often overlooked? Part of it has to do with the fact that many developers work on applications that have a fairly small user base: less than 5,000 users per day, for example. Other times it’s because PHP is so easy to learn that the developers who master it don’t learn the architecture that goes along with it.

In this series, we’ll ask the questions and give a basic set of directions about how to scale a web application from the ground up. We’ll examine how to go from one server to many servers, and what questions to ask and things to look out for. This is not a guide for experts in the subject to hone their skills; rather, this is a beacon for those who have never scaled a website before, and perhaps are being asked to do so, or will be asked to do so fairly soon.

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Monday, February 16th, 2009 @ 6:00 am | Comments (0) | Categories: Web Architecture, Best Practices, System Architecture
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Where Comments Are Useful

PHP In Action writes on the use of comments in code, specifically citing Eli White’s Commenting on Commenting over at PHP Advent. They are critical of Eli’s advice, saying that comments should be unnecessary, and that code should be clean enough to easily understand it.

There’s a lot of good advice, especially about writing clean code. But the article fails to address a good number of really critical details and to some degree misses the point of Eli’s article.

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Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 @ 11:30 pm | Comment (1) | Categories: Usability, Web Architecture, Best Practices
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Keeping Superglobals Out Of Classes

Have you ever written code like this?
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Monday, December 15th, 2008 @ 1:41 pm | Comment (1) | Categories: Usability, Web Architecture, Best Practices
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Attention Developers: Functions Should Return Things!

Hey you…yeah you PHP developer, stop doing this:
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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 @ 7:25 pm | Comments (0) | Categories: Web Architecture, Best Practices
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Benchmark Early and Often

This past week I had to deal with a new concept: a client site that failed due to excessive load. Most of the week was spent optimizing the site by doing the critical components: installing APC, ensuring that our caching (Akamai) was satisfactory and properly configured, and making performance improvements.

But one thing that became very important was the benchmark test. Using ApacheBench, we identified the blind spots, weak spots, and bottlenecks in our web server (WordPress…duh) and worked to address them.

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Friday, October 3rd, 2008 @ 9:56 pm | Comment (1) | Categories: System Architecture, Web Architecture
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