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Wikitravel:12 November 2004

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Software changes and reduced dynamic presentation[edit]

Many people have noticed a degradation in the performance of Wikitravel over the last few weeks. This has been a product of our success; Wikitravel now gets about 5000 unique visits per day, and the load is stressing out our Web server.

To be able to deal with the increased load on our servers, I've had to turn off some of the dynamic features of the MediaWiki software. As a first round, I've fully disabled the user-defined Javascript and CSS features in the Monobook skin. Nobody used these, and they were half-turned-off anyways, but I've completely diked them out so there's not an extra 4 (!) Web hits per article page. You should notice some peppier performance right now.

In addition, over the next few days I'm going to be implementing a 404 handler cache for Wikitravel. This should mean that we get performance about the same as delivering flat HTML files. Unfortunately, it's also going to mean a lot less dynamic per-user content; most of the fancy user preferences for page display will be disabled, and everyone will get "the same" HTML (same skin, same options). I'd like to offset this with some client-side theming as presented in Alternative Style: Working With Alternate Style Sheets on A List Apart, but that's going to be secondary to reducing our server load and improving performance.

I realize that having one's editing environment "just so" is an important part of the Wikitravel experience, and I'm sorry we have to cut these features back for now. Given the alternatives -- keep putting up with bad performance, or turning off very useful features like search or maintenance -- I think this is the right thing to do. I hope that after we get things ready for increased performance we can use some client-side CSS tricks to let editors have everything "just so" again.

As usual, please report any problems you notice to the Wikitravel:Bug reports page. Thanks to everyone for your patience and for making Wikitravel popular enough that we have to deal with the pains of success. --Evan 18:20, 12 Nov 2004 (EST)