April 1st, 2011 by Kyle West
I’ll be honest up front: this one isn’t going to melt any tires, but it is a significant performance boost.
Back in 2009 we moved all images to a CDN (Content Delivery Network) and dramatically sped up image serving.
Today we released new code that reduces the number of requests by an average of 18% per page.
You all know we’re speed freaks at heart; we’re always looking for ways to speed things up and we’re going to keep it up. We hope you and your customers enjoy the new, snappier, website.
February 9th, 2011 by Kyle West
We’re typically been pretty horrible about letting you guys know when we change things, it’s my top priority to fix in 2011. This post is one of many to come outlining what we’re doing on the development side to keep you guys competitive.
You may now input a fixed fee that will be added to all orders (regardless of shipping method) at checkout. To set one just login, click the Configuration tab, click the Shipping Methods sub-tab, and then input a value for the Handling Fee. If you leave this field blank there will be no handling fee and your customers will not see “Handling Fee” on their invoices. If you enter 0 your customers will see “Handling Fee: $0.00″ at checkout and on their orders.
You guys are selling so much product that Manufacturers are kicking down our door to get into our catalog and have us help them consolidate and manage their data and product catalog. RPMWare for Manufacturers gets them both.
Thanks to an eagle-eyed client (thanks Bill!) we were able to optimize our image processing algorithm to bump image quality up while not dramatically affecting page load times (bigger images take longer to download). Every image you have uploaded since Sunday night is just a little better than the ones uploaded before then. We have plans to go back through the 69,141 images we have in our catalog and optimize those as well. I’ll let you know when it is done.
Another very common request is adding the year, make, model picker to any page on the site. You can now, and here’s how.
There are a couple (small) issues that we know about and are working on. If you see any others please let us know and we’ll get it fixed.
In the spirit of full disclosure the following our our full release notes from an internal system we use. The RPM-XXX numbers are our internal identifiers. For those interested, we use JIRA and it is amazing.
January 26th, 2011 by Kyle West
That’s not all: we’re still working on a few performance enhancements (we’re car guys at heart, speed is in our blood) and haven’t forgotten any of the promises made in the post mortem. In related news, Matt just released the third January catalog update. Stay tuned!
April 30th, 2010 by Kyle West
April 25th, 2010 by Kyle West
We’re always adding new features to RPMWare, improving performance and fulfilling customer requests, but we’re pretty horrible at cataloging what those changes are letting everyone know about them. We’re going to try to change that today.
Here is what’s new within the past few weeks.
If you have over 100 customers or orders, you’ll notice that your customer and/or order lists are paged. This makes things load much quicker and reduces our server loads. If you want to see everything on one page, there is a link for that too.
We now specify weights and sizes in decimals (1.75) as opposed to whole (2) numbers. Your shipping rates will be that much more accurate now.
Product images are enlarged to their maximum size in a lightbox when clicked. If more than one image exists you can use to mouse wheel to scroll through. Click here to check it out in action.
You’ve always been able to define a custom URL for your brands so you can use a custom page if you choose. You can now do the same with product groups.
April 19th, 2010 by Kyle West
First of all, I’m sorry that RPMWare was slow today. I’ve written pretty much all the code that powers your sites and I feel terrible when it doesn’t perform the way I intended it to.
It all started innocently enough. We had some requests to show off bigger product images. I thought it was a great idea and got to work figuring a way to do it. Finally I settled on using a lightbox to popup the larger images. If you don’t know what that is, check it out in action here (click the product image).
Anyway, this thing is fucking awesome. It pops the image up with some animation, if there are more than one picture you can scroll through them with your mouse wheel. That kind of bad-ass functionality comes with a price though, especially when you screw up the configuration.
#1 – RPMWare supports short urls. You can find any part by going to yourdomain.com/part-number. To support that functionality we have to query the database for almost every url and see if it matches one of the million or so part numbers we have. It is tough work, but long ago we figured out a way to handle it.
#2 – The lightbox uses a lot of images (dropshadows, rounded corners, etc.) to support its cool effects, even more in Internet Explorer which doesn’t support the same standards as Safari, Firefox and Chrome.
#3 – I mis-configured some of the images for the lightbox and instead of pointing to /public/images/image.png they were pointing to /image.png. RPMWare thought each image was a part number and queried the database for it. I’m not sure exactly how many images were being loaded on each page request, but it was easily quadrupling (really: tentoupling) the load on our database server.
I reconfigured the lightbox correctly. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is a look at CPU usage on our master database server. Can you guess when I pushed the change live?
Computers suck sometimes, it isn’t always easy to figure out what is wrong. You end up chasing a lot of dead-ends and improving a lot of code unrelated to what you’re trying to fix. On the bright side though, I made nearly a dozen changes today that didn’t fix the main issue, but did improve performance in other areas of RPMWare.
Let me know if you see anything that still needs addressing. Again, I’m sorry about the issues. We’re doing our best to minimize them.
October 7th, 2009 by Kyle West
We just pushed a slew of new features and improvements live. We know you’re going to love them. Here’s what’s new:
You can now mark up or mark down shipping on any brand, group or item. It works exactly the same as setting pricing and offers some more flexibility in configuring your store.
Ever wanted to sell for a certain percentage or amount OVER Map or Jobber? Now you can. Just enter a negative discount when setting prices.
If you want to give a certain brand some extra attention or just stand apart from the crowd, it’s easy to create brand showcases by creating a unique page for each URL. Many of you have done this already, now you can link to them directly from the brand in the catalog.
We’ve always offered a lot of options to create your own content pages, well they just got even better. You can now define your own page title, meta keywords and meta description. You can even skip the default layout and define the entire page in your own custom HTML.
We’re always tweaking things, improving performance and improving RPMWare. There are about 75 minor bug fixes and other miscellaneous improvements in this release.
So, what do you think? What should we work on next? Let us know!
August 10th, 2009 by Kyle West
Hey guys, we just pushed a few configuration changes live to lower the file size of all the pages (we turned the compression level up). This means a little more work for our servers, but a lot less for your visitors to download. We’ll be monitoring performance all day, please let us know if you see any issues or slowdowns.
February 15th, 2009 by Kyle West
We just put the finishing touches on v1.9.5 and wanted to let you know what exactly is different and why you should care (you should care!). We also skipped our blog post about 1.9.4 and wanted to give a quick update on a few things are were changed with the move to Rackspace.
The underlying theme of both releases though is: everything is MUCH MUCH faster!
There were two main changes in v1.9.4.
1. We upgraded to Windows Server 2008 x64, SQL Server 2008 x64 and ASP.NET MVC RC1. While infrastructure changes aren’t normally a good enough reason for a new release we’ve made a couple code changes to take advantage of some new features in each product to make RPMWare faster, more secure and more reliable. Not to mention our newer, bigger, beefier servers from Rackspace.
2. We created our own DNS manager to provide you simple access to your redundant name servers from your RPMWare admin.
The migration went off without a hitch and after about 45 minutes of downtime we were humming along on our new servers.
Speed - The average response time for your website homepage has decreased from a little over 1 second to just over 600 milliseconds, almost a 100% improvement. The results are even more impressive on more complex pages. We’ve seen some pages improve from 5+ seconds to just over 1 second.
Reliability - Since the move we’ve had exactly 1 minute and 44 seconds of downtime, before the move we were having that much or more downtime every day. We’re constantly striving to get that number to zero, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
Visitors and Pageviews - We don’t keep stats on each of your sites individually, but we do keep stats on all the RPMWare sites as a whole. Comparing the week before the move to the week of the move your visitors are down 1.19%, but page views are up 2.79% and pages per visit are up 4.04%. Fewer visitors checking out more pages, a direct result of faster page loads? Most likely. But what’s the impact on the bottom line?
Conversions (orders) are up 16.50%! I’ve never been so excited. This is why we’re here, to help you make more money.
v1.9.5 packs a couple more items to boost performance and get your sales up. The first of which I, and any other geek, will be pretty excited about.
All your images are on Amazon CloudFront
CloudFront is a content delivery network (CDN) built and supported by Amazon.com. It’s similar to Amazon S3 (which we implemented around this time last year) with a very important advantage. Everything you look at on the internet needs to be loaded from a server somewhere. If those servers happen to be closer to you physically you’re content will load faster. A CDN maintains servers around the country (and the globe) and uses specialized algorithms to load content from the servers closest physically to your users.
The end result is another speed boost for your website as images are loaded from servers physically closer to you. If you do international business your international customers will certainly notice a speed boost. We haven’t had time to analyze the performance boost yet; however, CDNs are a proven way to substantially improve site performance.
New AAIA Vehicle Information Database
We updated the underlying data that powers our year, make, model search to the latest available from AAIA. The total vehicle count is now over 50,000 including all the new 2009 models.
Before we moved to Rackspace we simply didn’t have the resources to provide 100% complete sitemaps with all your categories, brands, groups and items. There is so much information included in your sitemap now we had to split it into multiple files to get all the information submitted to Google and the other search engines. Don’t worry about doing anything differently, things will just work after you submit your sitemap.
January 21st, 2009 by Kyle West
We just put the finishing touches on the roadmap for the next major RPMWare release, codename: Nitrogen.
This is the next and final major release before 2.0. Its goal is to deliver a few key features that you’ve have been requesting. It will be the final major release of the current front-end. Once this release is complete we’ll focus our efforts on creating the next generation of our front-end (much like we just released the next generation of our admin).
Most of these features are self-explanatory; however, we’ve come up with a unique way to do product reviews that we’d like your feedback on.
We’re planning on allowing you to (optionally) share reviews submitted on your site with other RPMWare clients. If you do choose to share your reviews, the reviews from other clients sharing their reviews will be displayed on your site. If you choose to not share your reviews you will not be given access to other’s reviews.
We haven’t set a public release date yet. Work is underway though and proceeding as planned. Please stay tuned to the blog for more information.
Once we wrap this up we have some more plans for the admin section of the website as well as 2.0. We’ll share those in more detail as they become available.
As we’ve promised though we haven’t forgotten setting discounts as a markup over cost or adding and editing orders in the admin. Those are in progress; however, they are not the focus on this front-end release.
Stay tuned for more information, let us know what you think!