Some months back, I was playing around with software I had written to automatically decompress World of Warcraft addons, record their contents, and place them in a single zipped archive for download via our guild site. I ran into some peculiar issues with a handful of WoWAce-based addons that I eventually traced to the developer’s use (incorrectly, I might add) of Subversion externals. Oddly, the archive would behave correctly under Windows while using both the built-in Windows zip utility and 7-zip. That was when I started thinking about the blessing and curse of standards.
This article has been deprecated as the fundamental principles behind the data acquisition are flawed and incorrect (at the time, I didn’t have multiple machines to test on; as a consequence, benchmarks were performed on the same server by the same server). You should not cite this article as authoritative, but it can give you some additional foundations to base further research on.
I’ve been working with a couple of Python-based frameworks for web applications recently and have elected to try my hand at writing my own application server in Stackless Python due to its simplified concurrency model (and threading in Python appears to have performance-related issues compared to languages that support it natively, like Java). My efforts haven’t gotten much further than creating a basic skeleton so far, and it certainly seems as though I’ve learned much more about Python’s internals than I ever wanted to know! Performance has been a fairly significant concern up front, and I believe it’s necessary to examine how your own software performs early in the development process rather than waiting until the design has been solidified. Once you’ve been bitten by a fundamental flaw or serious bottleneck around which your entire design relies heavily on, it’s very difficult to alter the application’s behavior without significant refactoring. While I’ve heard it said that it’s sometimes better to write the application first and worry about performance later, I have never had such luck. It seems easier to write the application correctly the first time, in terms of developer time spent now and in the future on maintenance.
However, there is one benefit I didn’t predict from this exercise: This experience has also afforded me an opportunity to compare different frameworks and servers for performance and behavior under load.