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The Joys Of Individual Archives

Warning... This is a "inside blogging" story that may not interest you.

Powerline will soon be unreadable (and unlinkable) for many on the internet. Want proof?

See their January archive, which weighs in at an impressive +4MB per page load. The only way to link to, or read an individual Powerline article is via the monthly archive page. Way back in the ancient history of Wizbang I used software which would not make individual pages for entries and ran into the same problem of page bloat as the month went on. I fixed my problem by changing blogging software to Movable Type. Powerline appears to have brought the problem on themselves by changing some settings in their blogging software - also Movable Type.

With time based archives (like monthly and weekly), each entry is not stored on a separate page, but as part of the whole archive page. In the case of Powerline you now have to load the whole monthly archive page to get to any single article. That's not so bad early in the month, but as content and pictures are added eventually it doesn't load very fast - even for high speed internet users. Dial-up users will get hourglasses instead of content.

Since the front page is set to show a limited number of entries (or days) it continues to load in respectable fashion, but if you try to link to an individual story you're actually linking to the ever growing monthly archive page. I'm not sure what problem they were trying to solve at Powerline when they eliminated individual archive pages, but in the case of a high volume, high traffic site (like theirs) the cure is worse than the disease.

I made a little chart to show the progress of page bloat over the course of a typical month - [graph].

Note: I'm not picking on Powerline - which happens to be one of my favorite blogs - they just made for a fresh example


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Comments (17)

Name names, Aleward. What o... (Below threshold)
julie:

Name names, Aleward. What other blogs have the same problem? I always thought it was me, then the page design, when it took forever to access certain blogs.

When I was using MT on my p... (Below threshold)

When I was using MT on my previous host, I got the bright idea that I could save server space by having my archives all monthly rather than individual-entry -- thus not having multiple complete copies of each post. I wasn't even all that prolific, but the same month I made that change, I exceeded my bandwidth limit.

I changed back in a hurry, made a minor adjustment to the monthly archives, and stayed within both the bandwidth limit and the storage limit for as long as I stayed with MT.

Of course, ExpressionEngine is PHP-based, so I don't have to worry anymore about multiple copies of each post. If server space is an issue for them, the PowerLine guys should consider migrating to a PHP-based platform.

the blogger software allows... (Below threshold)

the blogger software allows you to select between weeks or months

What Henry wrote (^^). It'... (Below threshold)
-S-:

What Henry wrote (^^). It's a very simple matter with MT to select individual archives as display option and then to create a template for the display. Simple as piiieee.

PowerLine has more than a few technical glitches in their site design. Just saying, they might want to spend a bit more time fine tuning what they have, given their content popularity.

I've gotta say, I rarely re... (Below threshold)

I've gotta say, I rarely read Power Line these days for two reasons. First, like you point out, Kevin, the absence of individual archives makes the blog a little user-unfriendly.

But the bigger problem from my point of view is their feed. I use a feed reader to read blogs, and blogs that don't deliver at least enough content to get a good idea what the article is about, I rarely bother to click through. Power Line only delivers about 20 words on their feed, making it practically impossible to tell what the article is about without firing up a Web browser.

I totally understand folks who don't want to send full content out via their feed, but they could at least go to the trouble of offering useful excerpts.

I love Power Line … but they could be easier to read.

that graph is high tech.</p... (Below threshold)
M.Palmer:

that graph is high tech.

Maybe this doesn't concern ... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Maybe this doesn't concern the big boys like Power Line, but I'd worry about my bandwidth if, everytime a reader wanted to see one of my old posts, he had to open an entire weekly or monthly archive. That's gotta be costing them some money, doesn't it?

The problem with Movable Ty... (Below threshold)
Mike:

The problem with Movable Type is that, unless you have the templates set up right, the same non-post markup (HTML) is in every archive file. Power Line has over 7600 entries -- that's a lot of repetitive markup taking up space on the webserver.

Switching to a PHP-based tool would be a good idea. Personally, I recommend WordPress.

PHP/MySQL based programs ar... (Below threshold)
Remy Logan:

PHP/MySQL based programs are definitely the way to go. They are much easier to work with when doing a backup, changing servers, and make site wide changes. The downside though is that you have to learn a new thing or two.

MT is just so Y2K.

The advantage of not having... (Below threshold)

The advantage of not having individual pages is that when someone is referred to an individual article, they are more likely to read the other articles. It also helps put the article in context when you can easily look up and down and see what was posted before and after it.

I prefer individual pages and use wordpress which handles them easily. If you choose to go without them, you should split the archived pages up into managable sizes depending upon your output quantity.

Or have them use a differen... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Or have them use a different template that doesn't show excess stuff (such as a sidebar).

I used Pmachine Pro for a w... (Below threshold)

I used Pmachine Pro for a while and upgraded to Expression Engine 1.2.1 - it is awesome. Does everything you need and more. If you are comfortable with php and css, you can literally do anything with it. If you are not inclined and just want to use one of their base templates (15 of them to select from) - you can be up and running in 15 minutes. Highly recommended.

The biggest example of this... (Below threshold)

The biggest example of this has gotta be Volokh Conspiracy. I rarely link to them (or discuss their very thoughtful posts) for this reason.

Sorry to come back to this ... (Below threshold)

Sorry to come back to this so far after the fact, but Mike, Movable Type doesn't have to work that way. My site runs on TypePad, which is a hosted Movable Type service, and each individual archive page consists only of the actual article content itself and a few hundred bytes of other stuff. Most of that other stuff is server-side include directives. My masthead, my rail and other static components are stored as HTML files that get included by the Web server.

Much neater and cleaner than database-backed interpreted solutions. And most importantly, my site stands up under load. You think an Instalanche is a stress? I got Slashdotted tonight. My site was never even sluggish because apart from the very light-weight server-side includes, there's no actual processing going on when my site serves up a page.

Oh, that's weird. It didn'... (Below threshold)
andy:

Oh, that's weird. It didn't used to be like that - individual articles used to be linked individually... like, say:

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/003497.php

Wonder why/when they changed it?

Kevin, try switching to dyn... (Below threshold)

Kevin, try switching to dynamic archives and use a PHP include to pull in your header and footer (which you can output as a static index template (yes, Movable Type allows you to choose which templates should render statically vs dynamically).

That way, you will waste the minimum of space (only in the form of a cache of post content) and get all the benefits of the PHP side of life...

Jeff,You're right,... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Jeff,

You're right, MT *doesn't* have to work that way. It's been over a year since I last used MT, so I was misremembering.

That said, it's possible for someone to set up their templates to use the same code (for a masthead, sidebar, etc.) in every file. Now that I think about it, though, I don't think MT's default templates ever did that, though.

I think Power Line would be fine if they switched back to individual archives and moved as much of the static content into files to be pulled in via include directives. But they're hinting that they'll be moving to new software in the near-future, so they're likely well ahead of all of us on this.

Server-side includes are great, though, aren't they? *grin* (Though I prefer the PHP version, as I can never remember the syntax for the Apache one.)




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