There are practical reasons that web performance matters. From a user perspective, a site that’s slow results in frustration, annoyance, and ultimately a preference for alternatives. From the perspective of a site operator, frustrated users are users who aren’t going to return, and that makes it more difficult to accomplish your mission (be it commercial or public service). Optimizations keep people happy, keep them coming back, and keep them engaged.
One of the Performance-Team responsibilities at Wikimedia is to keep track of Wikipedias performance. Why is performance important for us? In our case it is easy: We have so many users and if we have a performance regression, we are really affecting people's lives. Maybe you remember our hiring tweet from a couple of years ago?
This week at our team offsite in Dublin, I looked at our performance data from an angle we haven't explored before: mobile device type. Most mobile devices expose their make and model in the User Agent string, which allows to look at data for a particular type of device. As per our data retention guidelines, we only keep user agent information for 90 days, but that's already plenty of data to draw conclusions.
Yesterday we deployed Thumbor support for Wikimedia-hosted private wikis. While 99.9% of our traffic is for public-facing wikis, the Wikimedia Foundation hosts a number of private MediaWiki instances on the same infrastructure. Those wikis facilitate work for various groups in the movement, from community-run projects like OTRS, to local chapters, staff or the board. They're essential to the Wikimedia Movement, but by being private they're an architectural special case.
This post shows how we measure and interpret load times on Wikipedia. It also explains what real-user metrics are, and how percentiles work.
In the last blog post I described where Thumbor fits in our media thumbnailing stack. Introducing Thumbor replaces an existing service, and as such it's important that it doesn't preform worse than its predecessor. We came up with a strategy to reach feature parity and ensure a launch that would be invisible to end users.
Thumbor has now been serving all public thumbnail traffic for Wikimedia production since late June 2017.
We are currently in the final stages of deploying Thumbor to Wikimedia production, where it will generate media thumbnails for all our public wikis. Up until now, MediaWiki was responsible for generating thumbnails.
One of the goals of the Wikimedia Performance Team is to improve the performance of MediaWiki and the broader software stack used on Wikimedia wikis. In this article we’ll describe a small performance improvement we’ve implemented for MediaWiki and recently deployed to production for Wikimedia. It highlights some of the unique problems we encounter on Wikimedia sites and how new web standards can be leveraged to improve performance.
As the Wikimedia Foundation’s Performance Team, we want to create value for readers and editors by making it possible to retrieve and render content at the speed of thought, from anywhere in the world, on the broadest range of devices and connection profiles.