Gobbling Dogfood

Welcome to the new Simian Zombie! It looks almost the same as it used to, and it works in pretty much the same way, but the back-end is now completely different.

The old Simian Zombie used WordPress as its blogging engine and was hosted on BlueHost. This combination resulted in terrible response times. Fetching and rendering the site took an average of around 5 seconds (testing suggested a range from 2 to 9 seconds), which is abysmal. Worse than using WordPress’ combination of PHP and MySQL was sharing a database server with a site that was either appallingly written or hugely popular; in either case, it kept taking down the database.

The new Simian Zombie is hosted on a VPS provided by Digital Ocean. It uses Gobble as its blogging engine, which is written in Go, uses the filesystem for permanent storage, and serves posts from an in-memory cache. A full render of the same blog page takes around 2 seconds on average (with a range from 1 to 3 seconds). Most of that time is used up by the JavaScript syntax highlighter; fetching the rest of the page usually takes around half a second. It probably helps that there’s 50% less HTML in the Gobble layout.

It took longer to re-format the content from the old site into correct Markdown than it did to write Gobble. Around half of the posts lost their formatting during the automated HTML-to-Markdown conversion process, so I had to add it all back in. I’ve been reluctantly working on fixing the posts since I announced Gobble, which was two months ago. After that was done, I had to ensure that all of the various downloads and images still worked (I’m sure I’ve probably missed a few links).

I’m hoping that Gobble holds up to being dogfooded. I’m also hoping that I haven’t lost anything during the transition.


Theme Change

Bored of the old theme. It looked good, but it had some problems. Pre/code HTML blocks didn’t work properly and it wasn’t the easiest theme to read. I’ve gone for an easy to read, minimalist theme this time around. By default this theme has light text on a dark background, but although I’ve come to quite like that in a text editor it made the blog very bad for the eyes.


WordPress Updated! And Bugs.

My host have added the latest version (2.2.1) of WordPress to Fantastico, so I thought I’d upgrade. Problems so far:

  • The HTML side of the text editor ignores line breaks when used in Safari 3, so all of the text ends up crammed together into the same paragraph;
  • The WYSIWYG side of the text editor crashes both Safari and Firefox if you attempt to edit a post that has an unclosed pre tag - looks like a Javascript infinite loop.



WordPress Themes

Why don’t people put up screenshots of their WordPress themes? Do they honestly think people are happy to install the themes onto their sites just to get an idea of what they look like?