Oct 18 2007
I was listening to a client deal with the increasing utility and popularity of ClearSpace as a platform for several of their communities of practice that are in formation. The good news is that people are sharing and learning from each other using their new tool. The challenge (and I was accused of being a “glass is 120% full” kind of guy 🙂 is that page loads take too long for low-bandwidth users.
I decided to compare the size of several arbitrary pages. I chose 5 platforms: ClearSpace, two tools that participants in the Foundations of Communities of Practice are currently comparing to each other, Moodle (because I’m doing a project on it) and Web Crossing (which is where the Foundations workshop is held). I saved 5 pages and added up the bytes according to the several different types of files that made up a page. A quick and dirty way of making the comparison:
Some data is better than none
The html file for ClearSpace contained a lot of java script code, so the comparisons within categories are rough. ClearSpace clearly produces a big page. Ning and Facebook have large pages and they can be even larger if you add more graphics, RSS feeds, videos, and auxiliary applications. Web Crossing was so small, I thought I should go back and try to find a bigger page, but I was too lazy. All of these pages were the page you might typically land on if you were going to go find or do something in a community space, so they were roughly equivalent from a functional perspective.
And a picture is worth more
It looks to me like ClearSpace falls right in the middle of these 5 in terms of page size. Of course a community member’s experience depends on a lot of other factors, including navigation (which with ClearSpace is partly the result of site structure that will be constantly evolving), how long the server takes to put together a page, and the amount of data that makes up a page. And different kinds of pages will have different sizes.
In the conversation there seemed to be several leading proposals about what to do:
- Get more bandwidth for community members who needed it
- Ask Jive to consider whether ClearSpace has a performance issue
I kept arguing that there was more concurrent stuff to be done than waiting for these, which sounded like somebody else’s job. Ideas that came up:
- Work on making the member’s trajectory through the site more direct
- Create a separate directory of some sort (e.g., del.icio.us links into it) so that fewer page loads are needed
- Provide some kind of intermediary person or service who can retrieve stuff that low-bandwidth people request
- Automate the production of a CD image of appropriate sections of the site and send it to people by snail mail every month or two
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