Ensembl 51

The web team can finally let out a quick sigh of relief now that the long awaited new web code has finally emerged kicking and screaming out of the web team office…

It is obvious to see the “cosmetic” changes to the site:

  • the colours,
  • fonts,
  • layout,
  • the unified configuration
  • the reduction in page sizes.

On top of this there have been a large number of underlying technical improvements to the way the pages are put together.

  • Streamlining the JavaScript and css to make sure that the transfers to and from the server to your browser are as fast as possible; Using unobtrusive JavaScript throughout the new code so pages work with or without JavaScript or AJAX – althouth they are not quite as functional they still work!
  • Making the pages standards compliant to make them render in most browsers without issues (unless of course that browser is IE and there are lots of places where the “standards” approach fails)
  • Using an fast in memory cache (a modified version of memcached which allows for the use of tags) to reduce the load on our user database and to store and server temporary images, processed HTML etc.
  • Segregation of code into more modules to reduce the size of the very large modules we had (noticeably the breakdown of the Component modules into smaller chunks)
  • Configuration meta information contained in core databases making the site easier and more automatic to set up.
  • Optimisation of drawing and configuration code.
  • Transparent use of AJAX in many cases. Use of Perl’s LWP::ParallelUserAgent where the user’s browser doesn’t support AJAX.
  • Further areas where the extensible plugin system is available – defining colours, configuring images.

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