Closing the Polls

Posted 2009.08.12 14.45 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

Not long ago I asked for some feedback regarding the Share This plugin. Share This adds a little icon and text to every page and every post, which allows people to link the pages/posts with a number of other services. I personally never used it, but my two biggest complaints about it were that it is a bit of a ‘black box’ that depends on a bunch of resources that are stored at the Share This servers rather than on my own servers, and that it required visitors to my site to download a bunch of other stuff behind-the-scenes which led to a delay in viewing my site.

I did some measurements and found that on my site’s front page, even with well over a dozen graphics and photos and several thumbnails present, the Share This plugin was adding so much overhead that it doubled the bandwidth and doubled the rendering time of my site. The Share This script alone was the single slowest component of the entire site, and there was nothing I could do to improve that because the script is served from their servers, not mine.

I ran a little poll and of the 9 voters, 8 did not use Share This and 1 did. Consequently I have deactivated the Share This plugin again. It’s not deleted, not yet at least. But I’ll leave it off for a while and see if there’s any negative feedback.┬áIn the same spirit, I’ve also deactivated the polling plugin because it causes a bunch of extra overhead to be loaded on every single page, regardless of whether there is even a poll on a given page or not. I’ll either activate it only when necessary, or try and find a less cumbersome / lower overhead plugin.

By the way, some people might question why I even bother to be concerned about something that adds less than 500KB to each page view, or increases the rendering time by a mere 4/10ths of a second. Partially it’s because I’m a bit OCD and I hate to see bandwidth and cycles wasted needlessly. And partially because I spent some time and effort making my site friendly for mobile browsers, which included ensuring that people don’t automatically get forced into downloading heavy graphics and stuff unless they want it. At the time of this writing, my normal front page with all the graphics, photos, thumbnails etc. is about 450KB. Share This added another 450KB, or about 900KB total. The mobile version is 25KB. Or the mobile version with Share This becomes about 500KB. Kind of defeats the purpose of making a lightweight mobile-friendly version, if a single plugin is going to increase the bandwidth by 2000%.

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