Recent changes have been implemented across all networks to help boost security and improve resources use which equates to improved website performance and function.
Our friends at Data49 Design and TheTechPlex have been busy coding and testing these changes and putting in some late hours to reduce the impact on the network. However, some website operators and visitors noticed odd behaviour on a couple websites.
They have reported opening a specific page in their browser only to find it in disarray. Pieces of that page were spread haphazardly across the screen instead of being neat and ordered like the other pages on the site they viewed.
The reason for this odd behaviour is from the page caching added to the network.
It takes a lot of work to have the network that “just works”.
What is Page Caching?
Page caching is a shortcut to website content delivery. Typically on a WordPress installation a viewer comes to the website and their browser requests a page. That request goes to the website hosting server which processes the included server code that tells it what to deliver, and further requests all associated information and content contained in the database. The server compiles that information and returns it to the visitor’s browser as the page requested. The page returned contains no reference to the server requests, only the content requested – what’s called an html page.
A cached page is just a “snapshot” of that same returned page. The next visitor to the page does not have to wait for the requests to be processed by the server and database, or the compiling and returning of that same page. Instead they receive the already compiled snapshot. Much quicker loading and fully functional.
Why Was the Cached Page All Messed Up?
That was just the way it played out, but, it is not something that happens often or repeatedly. That particular page snapshot was of a page request that had several coincidental factors occur. Take note that any page of any website on the Internet can deliver scrambled content at the time they are requested. A glitch on the server or a hiccup in the Internet, any number of factors can contribute to a messed up page because the content that gets delivered is incomplete. Usually the way to fix that is to refresh the page in order to request a new version from the server. Cached pages, however, will continue to offer that broken page because that is what is in the content for delivery and that is what the server delivers at every refresh request.
How Does a Messed Up Cached Page Get Fixed?
Any time a post or page is edited the cache for that specific page is cleared and a new one gets produced. To fix a messed page just log into your site and re-save the page or post, then visit it in your browser to create a new cached version. That new version is what all visitors will receive.
Take note that any page of any website on the Internet can deliver scrambled content at the time they are requested.
Note: A cached page version does not expire.
The way to create a new version is to edit the page or post and when the content looks proper in your browser it looks proper for every visitor – always.
Why Use Page Caching?
Performance. That’s the short answer 🙂
- A faster loading website encourages visitors to stay longer.
- Search engines take page speed into account when indexing websites.
- Google’s Page Rank algorithm includes page load speed.
- No one website is draining server resources from other websites in the network.
- Server stability is better maintained when resources are not overtaxed.
- Reasonable scalability keeps overhead costs down which keeps hosting costs stable.
Page caching is just good business. For the network and for every member website within. There are other methods of caching but we selected this method primarily because it is very lightweight and substantially reduces the number of requests made to the server and database. The visitor’s browser does the work for the exact same user experience … except faster 😉
Is Every Page Cached? and Only Cleared One at a Time?
Not every page is cached. Websites using e-Commerce, for instance, require the requests to the database to be real time in order to successfully add items to the cart and complete purchases. Those related pages are not cached, though they are still delivered to browsers using compression in order to increase delivery speed.
Pages and posts are cleared one at a time, but there is also a button in the admin tool bar that allows clearing the cache site wide. Every page and post in the cache is cleared when using that button so be sure to browse all the pages afterwards to ensure the new cache contains properly formed content.
Page caching is just good business. For the network and for every member website within.
Does Every Page Need Checked on Each Website?
Yes, and also after the entire cache is cleared it’s advisable to visit each page to ensure integrity. At this time, though, it should be unnecessary for websites within any network. Part of what Data49 and TheTechPlex have been doing is viewing every page on every website to create stable cache versions. What is needed is already done and for website operators it’s business as usual. It’s only been the odd one that has escaped the process and cached haphazard. The solution for those is a simple re-save and view.
A Word on Security
In regards to cached pages, a cached page cannot be hacked or have code injected to it. Hacks are typically inserted in order to be processed by the server on the next load, but the next load of a cached page has already bypassed the server request stage and is a version that is not hacked anyway. However, an already hacked page can be cached and that is where our securities come in to play to block hack attempts and to alert us of any compromise.
It might be asked why we have changed our securities from the previous application. It worked well for years and we are certainly pleased with its service, but what often happens with security programs is they become bloated in trying to address the multitude of issues and threats that can arise. Often-times a re-write of the entire code base is the only way to trim down an application, instead of building upon it repeatedly, but if it isn’t addressed it becomes counter productive. And there are new applications being developed all the time. We have opted for a system that uses about 10% of the resources the previous application used but still delivers the securities we expect.
The Nositeunseen network is not an application that once built just runs. We are actively involved in its development and performance, and ensuring the best operator and user experience. It takes a lot of work to have the network that “just works”.
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