Vermont Softworks:

blog entry

Under the hood

A few weeks ago, my personal web site erikmh​.org was hit by a small problem at my long-standing internet presence provider (IPP) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pair Networks. I took advantage of the problem by migrating it from static .html files (blindingly fast, but difficult to maintain and keep updated) to the svelt and efficient ProcessWire content management system (CMS).

This went more easily than expected, so I decided to capitalize on that experience and to do the same for this web site, migrating it from Squarespace in New York, while the lessons I learned from my personal site were fresh in mind.

Much has changed just in the past two or three years in the world of web tech: PHP and ProcessWire have new features and more efficient syntax, CSS has grown by leaps and bounds, and even HTML has moved forward.

This site takes advantage of much of this new tech — in some cases just to look a little nicer, but mostly in order to reduce the amount of data web browsers need to download in order to present the pages of the site: this should be particularly welcome to those with older devices, slower internet connections, and/​or small screens. Each and every photograph, scan, icon, and memoji on the site is offerred up in nine different versions: eight super-efficient .webp files (which modern browsers will select from based on the size of the visitor’s browser window and speed of internet connection) and medium-low resolution .png file which older browsers (unaware of .webp files or srcset collections of images of varying resolutions) will fall back” to.

CloudFlare speed test result for mobile; the desktop score was 100!

For those browsers that support inter-page transitions (very few today — but probably the majority within a year), moving between pages on the site will now feel softer and more fluid. And footnotes will be displayed as anchored marginal notes” if your browser supports anchored elements and you have a wide browser screen; again, this is very few browsers today, but at the current rate of adoption it’ll probably be the majority of browsers within a year.

Anyway, by leaving pair Networks and Squarespace I save nearly enough money to pay for seven small Vultr servers around the world, set up behind a CloudFlare load balancer” which routes requests to my nearest server. This should speed things up incredibly for visitors in Asia, Oceania, South America, and (to a lesser extent) in Europe.

Seven Vultr servers (and Thorin,” my staging server)

The Tolkienists​.org sites are now also being served via the same mechanism, although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully re-commission them. More on that project later.

And so after this brief hiatus, I’m returning to work on Anduin™.