FIT 14.5 – Web Accelerator Feature Release

FIT 14.5 is a feature release for the Web Accelerator.

Brotli is a new data compression library that shrinks Web payload better than proven methods such as gzip or deflate. The Web Accelerator now includes brotli as an Apache module. We have seen an improvement of over 10% of the average compression ratio compared to gzip. This means that compressible payloads (almost all formats except images) are transferred to clients in less than a third of its original weight.

Brotli also accounts for much of the benefits of the WOFF2 font format. Those font files load significantly faster than the predecessor format WOFF or the old TTF format. The Web Accelerator beta feature webfont-compression converts WOFF fonts on-the-fly into the WOFF2 format, resulting in 20% or more reduction in payload. As fonts are usually loaded in the critical render path, this is a welcome diet. To keep things simple, the Web Accelerator handles the necessary changes to your CSS font definitions as well!

To further accelerate loading of CSS files, we have improved our style-concat feature to work with any external CSS files. All adjacent <link rel=stylesheet> definitions within the same media query selector are combined into a single request. This not only frees up request slots in HTTP/1 setups, it also allows for more efficient data compression than single requests would have. Furthermore, style-minifying now removes even more redundant code and has improved runtime performance.

In 1999 Microsoft gave birth to the infamous favicon.ico. Of course everyone loves icons, but what made the favicon so annoying was that it was a request the browser conducted itself without the developer referencing it in the page. That makes it so easy to forget. Later, Apple tuned in with its apple-touch-icon.png that some (interestingly non-iOS) clients attempt to load from every single site visited. If your site does not handle those well-known icon URLs, it may result in unnecessary requests and wasted bandwidth. For example, the 404 error document may be much larger than a regular favicon. Many Web sites have developed the habit of sending redirects (to potentially better suited URLs) instead of 404s. In this case, the browser could be redirected to the home page in search for the favicon, resulting in two (or more) requests which may return lots of unnecessary HTML. Our new error handling for missing-icons does not paint an icon for you, but it replaces all non-icon answers for well-known icon URLs with a tiny error document.

To save even more bytes, more clients including Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox now qualify to use Zorro images as a replacement for transparent PNG images with photo characteristics.

There are many more improvements and bug fixes in this release. And as usual, you will find all third-party libraries freshened up.

Refer to the full changelog for a more detailed list of changes.