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Software Improvements or More Bloatware?

Posted by on 14/12/2010

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In today’s times where a website’s speed can make or break a potential user visit, it is really important to have a website with the speed to match. As Frederick Townes put it, users these days have an “Impatience Index” where the longer things take to load on their computer screens, the more impatient they get.

Online/server software companies that develop interactive tools such as blogs, forums, CMSs and so on are racing against each other to develop the most all round systems with as many features as possible jam packed into one package. However, some of these software packages have become so overloaded with features, most of which won’t be used by the regular site owner. We recently installed vBulletin 4 to handle our forum section, but after uploading 2100+ files, I had to wonder if they were really all necessary. Considering I wouldn’t be using half those features, it makes me wonder why I am paying so much for bloated half-useless software. the vBulletin team are obviously trying to compete with brands such as WordPress, Joomla and IPB, but they half obviously failed to realise that their specialty is still in the forums department. If I wanted a good CMS, my last resort would be vB’s CMS. There are free alternatives such as phpBB and UBB but I’m still not the brightest bulb at getting it to work in harmony with my NGINX server.

cPanel is another culprit in the server industry. Even though it’s a wonderful program for managing Apache servers, it actually hogs a lot of system resources even of big machines. With cPanel being predominantly used on shared servers though, it really shows how hungry it can be when sites get a big of high traffic. With system resources being shared between that and the rest of the site, the server generally becomes much slower than one without cPanel management.

Another noted problem among online software developers is putting too much focus on adding new stuff rather than fixing the barebone infrastructure and architecture. I’ve noticed in many programs that a ton of new and minor features were added with each version update, but design and functionality bugs remained unfixed, which simply was a turn off. Sometimes I wish I could just get the perfect set up and stick with it forever, but with software and servers becoming more vulnerable by every passing day, upgrading is the best way to stay out of trouble most of the times, unless you don’t mind being stuck with old but secured software.

Developers add so much stuff but also forget about loading optimization. You would think that software developers would look out for the interests of the consumer by creating software with optional optimization options. I can say that only a few of them do, such as phpBB. Others are left by the way side such as WordPress and vBulletin, which can only be optimized by either doing your own custom coding or with plugins such as W3 Total Cache or vB Optimize respectively.

In my opinion, when developing software, a number of things should be offered. Rather than offering a complete and huge package, they should offer something that is in basic form, and offer these additions in module form at a small additional cost. This alone would cut down severely on the bloated packages currently being offered. Also, rather than trying to dish out a ton of new features, work on improving the mechanics of the software so it runs smoother and as bug free as possible. Finally, take into consideration that speed is now a factor in terms of a site’s ranking on the web and developers should work on offering optimized versions of their software. They should also develop packages and support for HTTP handlers other than Apache and SQL handlers such as MySQL and MSSQL. For those planning to go big time with simple software such as WordPress, IPB or vBulletin, they should look into offering official support for NGINX, NoSQL, Cassandra, Varnish, Sphinx and other large scale software solutions. It’s obvious that not many will reach this far, but wouldn’t it make it easier for the few of us who reach their to have some added support rather than having to spend a fortune on hiring excessive tech support?

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