Thoughts on Information Finding

Reflections and reblogs

Tag Archives: south bay bible fellowship

How I Sped up Drupal Page Loads for Anonymous Users

One of the issues I had with the South Bay Bible Fellowship Drupal installation was that when I initially installed the software, the page loads were unbearably slow. At this point in time we are on a shared server that is not optimized for Drupal. The page loads were so slow that it was clear that many visitors would give up and move on.

In addition to administrative users, we use the authenticated user feature to prevent spammers from posting comments to Pastor’s blog. Other than that, our users generally are viewing as anonymous users. After much research, I decided to implement caching, and added the module fastpath_fscache. According to the Drupal site: “This approach is generally faster since the web server doesn’t need to initialize a database connection and crunch through a bunch of PHP files for an anonymous user hit.” It also indicates that this is a development module. However, I had experimented with a number of other modules and, due to the version of PHP our server provides (4.4.0), I had to give this one a try. I have been using it for a month and have had no issues. However, I recommend that if a developer can use a more stable caching module, such as Boost, she should.

At the same time, I wanted new content to be immediately available to new anonymous users, and not have to wait for a cache expiration. So I found instructions on using rules and PHP to refresh changed pages in cache. I set up a rule “Content is going to be saved” and using PHP instructions had Drupal run cron when that trigger occurs. Whenever new content is saved, cron is run, and a new page is generated immediately in the cache. If there are no changes, the cache doesn’t need to be refreshed.

The result has been that page loads for anonymous users are as quick as the original HTML web pages had loaded. The cache is recreated when required and not at only after a specific cache expiration period.

Drupal Site at South Bay Bible Fellowship Going Live Today

The South Bay Bible Fellowship site based on Drupal has been moved from a development directory to the root today.

The server I am working with has PHP Version 4.4.0, which has been a bit of a hindrance in adding various Drupal modules.

The modules I have installed, in addition to core and core optional, are:

  • CCK
  • Chaos tool suite
  • feed api
  • AddThis
  • contact Forms
  • DHTML Menu
  • Fastpath Filesystem Cache
  • Integrated metatags
  • Token
  • Rules
  • Views

I found while developing the software that connecting to the database with every page load was very slow, hence the need for the file system cache. This module has made the site very quick for site visitors. It is still a bit slow when I log in to perform administrative tasks, but not unbearably slow. Since this site will not heavily utilize logged in users (they would only have to log in if they chose to comment on Pastor’s blog), this is an acceptable trade off.

One issue that remains (and will probably have to remain until after my last final this semester) is making the site mobile-friendly. I have a mobile theme installed, but due to the caching module I can’t simply switch between themes on the fly. I will need to set up a mobile site separately. I am looking at the virtual site module. Again, the PHP version has been a hindrance since there are modules that are designed to detect OS and browser – however they require a higher version of PHP.

Take a look – I am pleased with the results :)

My Progress with Drupal

I volunteer for my local church as webmaster. For several months I have been working with a Drupal installation, which is on the verge of being rolled out.

As I had posted back in October, I had set up a very simple podcasting script, which I have edited further to meet my own needs. I then set up a Feedburner account to assist in publishing the podcast. I set up a blog for the pastor to post his thoughts, and website visitors will be able to leave comments to encourage dialog. I included an AddThis button so that people will be able to share posts using other social networking sites.

I also envision having a “Youth” section where the youth leaders can blog, and perhaps including a forum where the kids can chat.

Drupal is an extremely flexible content management system, and I am very excited for this opportunity to explore its capabilities.

Podcast Progress

I initially utilized Loudblog as the software to create the XML for the RSS feed. However, I found it quite buggy. It did not create the XML files accurately. The link download was created incorrectly – therefore no one would be able to access it other than being directly on the South Bay Bible Fellowship website. A podcast and an RSS feed should not be limited by location.

Therefore I decided to scrap Loudblog. I could dig into the php code and find where the error is, but felt it was wiser to explore other open source options instead of wasting my valuable time.

My second attempt was with Podcast Generator. Alas, I found Podcast Generator to be another buggy product. This produced multiple errors in multiple files. With so many other open source options out there, I felt that there were just too many files to wade through (like Loudblog) to find and correct the errors.

So next I decided to try a script I found on CantonBecker.com. It looked almost too easy…. only one script instead of a whole directory of files…

I configured and installed the CantonBecker script. It’s an extremely simple php file – all I had to do was provide the absolute path, the url, and a few other things like copyright information right in the file. I saved it and put it into a directory. I saved an audio file in that directory. Also it asks for a text file with the same name as the audio file, containing information about the file. And voilà, it is done! I plan to further edit the file to make it do exactly what I want, but the functionality is all here!

I can PODCAST!

After many many hours of frustration, I have finally published my first podcast! It is a work in progress and there still seems to be some quirks, but I am happy!

I have been the webmaster of my local church for quite some time now. I have been working on updating the site for a number of months now – and one of the upgrades I have been wanting to make is to change the sermon database to a podcast that users could subscribe to. I finally have succeeded! And a special thank you to Andy Seville for his help!

There is only one test sermon in it at this point in time, but I will be able to change that very soon! woo hoo!

You can see a link to the podcast in the right sidebar of this blog.

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