little green footballs

Tech Note: The LGF Pages Reboot

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 5:59:48 pm

The new LGF Pages re-design is now in launch mode, and the first thing you'll notice is that it looks a lot like the rest of the site. And that's a good thing.

The old LGF Pages index had its own design, which actually started as a coding experiment way back in the day. Now it's completely integrated into the design of the rest of LGF.

It's more than a design integration, though; I also lavished a lot of attention on the plumbing, the MySQL queries that manipulate the LGF Pages database tables. Many of these queries worked very well as long as the whole list of Pages wasn't too large -- but with the number of Pages approaching 300,000, those queries were becoming unacceptably slow. In the lingo, they weren't scaleable. That's why I had to take the LGF Pages index offline when we installed our new servers.

Now these queries are very scaleable; I've optimized and refactored the queries and the PHP code behind them to make this new version respond much more quickly -- again, like the rest of LGF.

If you're signed in to an LGF account, some of the stats displayed on LGF Pages indexes are now "live," updated at 5-second intervals, including the last comment and the page views. The Twitter counter is updated too, but at 90-second intervals.

When you scroll all the way to the bottom of the list of Pages, there's a big button labeled "Show More Pages." If you're so inclined you can just keep clicking this button and showing more Pages until you reach the end, or your browser explodes, whichever comes first.

(Disclaimer: LGF not responsible for exploding browsers.)

Individual authors of Pages have their own indexes, just as in the old version, but again they now appear in a style consistent with the rest of LGF. You can get to any author's LGF Pages by clicking their username in one of their Pages. The URL for your Pages looks like this (giving you a personal LGF web address):

littlegreenfootballs.com/pages/charles

And... one of the main problems with the old LGF Pages index was the search function. Basically, it sucked, and I say that as the author. Mea culpa. The biggest reason it sucked was because MySQL doesn't have FULLTEXT indexing for tables of the InnoDB type, but you don't really care about that. All you care about, and I don't blame you, is that it's fast. And the old LGF Pages search feature was the opposite of fast.

The solution: I've been noticing for a while that Google is crawling the heck out of LGF, and LGF Pages often show up in Google search results almost immediately after being posted, so I used Google's "Custom Search Engine" feature to set up a special tool that searches LGF Pages. To use the custom Google search, type your search terms into the field in the left sidebar labeled "Google LGF Pages..."

Google's search is ridiculously fast. Damned near instantaneous, in fact. Check it out and see how it compares to the old LGF Pages search feature.