Optimize your images

Size matters, but in the web business smaller is better. Of course for jpeg and png images you can increase the compression level right away in your graphic design tool.

But there are tools that can help you reduce the size of files, like pngcrush for PNG images. Gif images can be optimized too, even animated gifs, by reducing the amount of colors in the image color palette that is used and eventually remove non used colors from it.

Increase the amount of parallel downloads

This is something that can really make a difference, but this is an optimization field that is not very well known. Browser don't download all your files in parallel, they always only download one, two or maybe three files in parallel, this is why your browser Network Tab (firefox firebug / chrome developer tools) shows a so called waterfall of downloads. To fix this you have two options. The http 1.1 specification for example recommends no more then two parallel downloads.

You could try to put your static files, like images on different hostnames. Those can be different domains or sub-domains. You could put images on static1.example.com and other on static2.example.com or setup a cdn at cdn.some_cdn_host.com and put files there to increase the amount of parallel downloads.

Make fewer HTTP requests / Combine and minify files

1) Minify CSS and Javascript: This is pretty important. If you reduce the amount of http requests to your domain you will speed up the loading of your pages. There are lots of tools that help you with this task. A javascript builder can for example take several files and put their content into one, automatically every time you republish your website code. The builder can also minify the content for you and remove comments you had in the development version of the file.

Website speed optimization

Website loading times are important. Studies show that e-commerce platforms with low loading times will have a better conversion rate that sites with slow loading pages (tests at Amazon revealed that every 100ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1%). Another important factor is that google now also measures loading times and includes those results in their ranking algorithm, which means that fast websites will rank slightly better then slow ones.

Of course you shouldn't over optimize your website. A mean if you find something that could be optimized, for example if this optimization will only make your website faster by less then one percent, but on the other hand you will have to put several hours / days of work into that task, then you may reconsider your decision to do it.

step 1: centOS server installation and configuration series

This article is a series of articles in which i describe howto setup a dedicated server.

For my blog i wanted to test lots of new tools and ways to create a website. I will describe howto install Nginx with php-fpm as server. Nginx will get several virtual hosts, a "normal" vhost, an SSL vhost (howto add an SSL certificate to Nginx) as well as a sub-domain vhost. I will also use APC a pear package to speed up the execution of php scripts through opcode caching. As database i have choosen to use MongoDB a nice NoSQL database. I will also describe howto setup Bind DNS (chrooted) to manage domains, sub-domains as well as entries like a CNAME to replace the ugly Amazon Cloud Urls. As a CDN i will use Amazon Cloudfront. As FTP Server i will show you howto install VSFTP and howto create user accounts.

This first article will explain howto connect to your Server through SSH, i will use Putty for this task, read on if you want to know more.

Two good reasons to use ssl today

If the increased need for privacy (especially in some countries) isn't enough to convince yourself that using SSL might be a good idea, even on non e-commerce websites. Then read on, i found to pretty good reasons that might make you change your mind...

Zend Framework 2 is out!

Zend Framework 2

The first development release of Zend Framework 2.0 was released on August 6, 2010. Approximately two years later, and lots of effort later, Zend and the community released Zend Framework 2.

Of course the new Zend Framework is faster, better and shinier ;)

The new Zend Framework Library has lots of new components. I will write articles about them in the near future.

The Zend Framework has now a new Module Manager. I hope we will soon have hundreds of unofficial modules on Github we can choose from based on Zend Framework 2's new Module Manager. Combined with the advantages of composer, a package manager for php i think development in the php world got a lot easier and funnier for us developers. The PSR-0 standard supported by composer, the Zend Framework 2 and other libraries like Symfony 2 make it possible to mix components of different projects into one application. I will cover this topic in a separate article sometimes soon.

Adobe build.phonegap.com finally out of Beta

I worked a lot with phonegap and jQuery Mobile lately. I got the new Dreamweaver CS6 and started to create some prototypes. I could have used Notepad++ or an IDE like Netbeans but i wanted to try Dreamweaver because it has some features that make developing a mobile app really pleasant.

The jQuery Swatches Window makes it easy to select a jQuery Mobile form element or for example a button and paste it into your app. The live preview is a also nice feature. The best feature for me is the integration of the phonegap builder. You create your app, click on build and then you can scan a QRCode for Android, iOs, ... and you get the app on your phone and can test it there without any effort on your side.