I installed the new Google Page Speed plug-in for Firebug (under Firefox) and played with it a little. I’m impressed. It takes a number of ideas from the similarly awesome YSlow plug-in and goes a few steps further, plus adds a cleaner UI. Of course, I found a couple of really obvious things I could fix.
One of the easiest things is to make sure that your static content is cache-friendly. It’s one of those simple tricks that really does have an impact both on the number of bits you have to serve and on the perceived speed of your pages. Sadly, it gets left out of a lot of CMS/Blog systems (including WordPress). To speed things up, I created an Apache
.htaccess file with the following:
<FilesMatch "\.(gif|jpe?g|png|css|js)$"> ExpiresActive On ExpiresDefault "access plus 2 months" Header set Cache-Control "max-age=5184000, public" </FilesMatch>
For my purposes, I put this particular set of directives in
Expires header 2 months into the future. It also includes a matching 2-month
Cache-Control “public” header to let caches know that shared object caching is fine. With this, both web caches and the browser cache are far more likely to use the copy of these resources they have laying around.
Your mileage may vary (YMMV), but this is good placement for my particular purposes. It may be safe to put these directives all the way at the top of your document root. As with any caching, be prepared to pay some mild penalty whenever these resources actually do change; you’re ceding precise control over when a new version gets served up in order to gain performance (a trade-off you’ll have to weigh). Granted, there are cache-busting strategies (such as versioned file names) that you can use to get around this, too.
Next I have to figure out if DreamHost can help me support gzip’ed content…
Update: Bah! I should have just poked around a little. I found a page regarding turning on more
.haccess file I already have.
Unlike the way I did the
Expires headers above, this particular technique uses the content’s MIME type when choosing when to apply the
DEFLATE output filter. And just like that, I’ve got smaller content!