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Senior Editor

Port80 offers acceleration education, Part 2

Jan 20, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Port80 Software’s paper describes acceleration techniques

As I mentioned last time, Web acceleration vendor Port80 Software recently released a paper that details how enterprise network managers can first measure their Web site performance and then tackle the technical challenges that may cause poor customer service and unsatisfying end-user experiences.

The paper specifies several ways to speed content delivery, including code optimization, cache control and HTTP compression.

According to Port80, source code optimization is an often-overlooked way to make applications work better. This approach needs to be applied prior to deployment, in the testing phase of rolling out a new or updated application. Tweaking the code prior to putting an application in a live production environment will ensure the code works with the network devices and servers supporting the application.

A subset of code optimization is white space removal, which the paper defines as “the elimination of superfluous spaces, tabs, new lines and comments.” The process is said to result in modest time savings of about 10% to 15% in typical HTML files. Port80 says a code optimizer modeled after a traditional software compiler can achieve a higher level of optimization on all text-based files.

Code optimization represents a first step in improving Web site and application performance by reducing the initial network payload that a server must deliver to an end user, the paper states. As soon as the content has been optimized on the developer side, the content can then begin to be delivered in an efficient form.

A method of delivering content efficiently is cache control, Port80 argues. This involves storing the most commonly accessed content in RAM. It prevents an application from having to access a disk thousands of times during execution. Caching on the Web is similar in that it avoids a round trip to the origin Web server each time a resource is requested and instead retrieves the file from a local computer’s browser cache and a proxy cache closer to the user.

Lastly, Port80 discusses HTTP compression. HTTP compression is usually implemented on the server side as a filter or module, which applies the compression algorithm to responses as the server sends them out. And Port80 says any text-based content can be compressed.

Compression tools let an administrator adjust the compression level on content to ensure only the processing power necessary to reduce the file size is used. HTTP compression, Port80 says, can result in a reduction in file size up to 80% on individual text-type files, and still bulkier files can shrink by 60%.

To read more about Port80’s “Fundamentals of Web site acceleration: Performance starts at the Web server,” go to