FIT 14.5.1 – Web Accelerator vs Bigimage

This month’s release is mostly a “smoothing” release comprising a lot of bug fixes and smaller improvements, as well as 3rd party updates and security patches.

One of the most common errors that we have encountered in our log files was a complaint about source images being too large: … image area exceeds limit of 8 Mpixels. Of course, 8 million are a lot of pixels. But with the proliferation of high resolution cameras (in smartphones) and high density displays (also in smartphones), prepare to encounter large images in Web sites more frequently. However, the worst part of the error message was: Continue with original source. That means that of all things the largest images on your Web site are “too large to optimize”. The client has to load all these big files as they are. Even if those might be the outliers of your image files, a single large image with megabytes of data will outweigh every little byte saved by thoroughly optimizing everything else.

Acknowledging this problem, the Web Accelerator now supports sources images with up to 100 mega pixels. Image Scaling will drastically reduce the file size of large images by allowing optimizations such as format conversion or lossy compression. On our systems, we have seen savings of multiple mega bytes per image. To mitigate the operational costs of processing huge pixel arrays, images with more than 8 mega pixels are processed with an algorithm that is less precise but faster than our usual scaling method. Given so many pixels, there is no noticeable difference.

Don’t let the legendary Bigimage eat your bandwidth! Update today!

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


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.

FIT 14.4.2 released with new Web Accelerator options

https:// should be considered the norm for Web traffic. It allows for secure communication, the green padlock looks cool, and most important: it enables the efficient and fast data transfers of HTTP/2. However, switching your site to HTTPS may not be trivial. The force-https feature removes the hassle of changing URLs in your backend. But what can you do about URLs pointing to other domains, like ad scripts, social media or user images? Your browser will show mixed content errors and block the loading of these assets. The new force-https option external-media handles this by rewriting foreign http:// URLs to their secure counterpart. Switch to https:// now!

Speaking of security, we have improved our transport mapping feature, which is crucial when using the same domain name for Web Accelerator and source, to validate TLS certificates on mapped traffic. E.g. your certificate is accepted when the requests are routed to the IP resolved for

Besides a lot of bug fixes, this version ships ImageMagick 7 to be up-to-date with the frequent upstream updates, many of which are security related.

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

FIT 14.4.1

This release is a maintenance release comprising mostly bug fixes, security patches and 3rd party updates. However, there are some interesting improvements, too.

But security comes first! The Web Accelerator uses the ImageMagick library for image scaling. Recently, a number of security vulnerabilities were discovered in ImageMagick. With this release, we address these with a policy.xml as recommended by the vendor, as well as some patches that remove potentially exploitable code that we do not use. This is why we recommend all customers to update to 14.4.1 as soon as possible.

Until now, the cache for scaled or compressed images was valid for one day – regardless of the resource’s actual caching headers. Now these headers are respected, allowing shorter TTLs. However, you may still override this with the interval cache.

With the new scaling option add-size-attributes, the width and height attributes of images are set in the HTML document. This allows browsers to render the page quicker, because no reflows are necessary after the images have been downloaded. For pages with delayed images, this avoids “jumping pages” if image dimensions are missing.

Still in Beta, but nevertheless exciting, we provide an optional new URL scheme. With trailing marks enabled, the URL marks needed for URL optimization (such as caching) are moved to the last path segment. In 1:1 setups where a single origin is mounted onto /, all paths are identical to the origin. In combination with the new force-transparent switch, this allows for transparent cookies with arbitrary path directives.

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

FIT 14.4: Web Accelerator Update

This release brings a performance update to the “rear side”. When communicating with an origin server, a TCP connection needs to be established. This comprises multiple round trips. For encrypted connections (HTTPS), an additional TLS handshake is necessary to setup parameters for secure communication. Depending on the network latency this adds up to a significant amount of waiting time in the critical path. Furthermore, the throughput of a freshly established TCP connection is limited. Only after a number of network packages have been exchanged, the throughput increases.

With 14.4, we start recycling TCP connections to avoid these performance penalties. This reduces connection overhead and improves request performance. The savings are especially high for TLS backends and (very) remote origins. On our production systems we have seen average speed-ups of up to 20%. But even in low latency environments with plain HTTP there are some milliseconds to scrape. Check your fit_request.log to see what’s in it for you!

Besides that, we have fixed a number of bugs. But in case something goes wrong nevertheless, you can now fail with grace with a custom error page.

Please note that this major release includes deprecations and removals.

In the Beta section we have introduced a page cache for PPL: When navigating back and forth in the browser history, no HTTP request or HTML parsing will be required. Instead, the previous pages’ DOM objects may be reused, resulting in much faster and less interruptive history navigation.

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

FIT 14.1.5

14.1.5 is available! It is the 11th and last planned release in 2015. The main focus was on improving the image handling of the Web Accelerator.

However, the most interesting feature is certainly the script manager that now supports loading remote scripts, too. According to HTTP Archive, after image media, JavaScript is the second largest chunk of content used in Web pages. At the same time, JS code is often delivered in many small files. FIT combines its caching, minifying and script loading facilities to turn the situation into a strength: All JS files, both from backend servers or local files, will be delivered in a single request. This results in better compression, a reduced HTTP overhead and faster browsing – especially on networks that suffer from higher latency like mobile connections.

For Image Scaling (and compression), we have improved the handling of PNG images. This image type delivers sharp graphics, well suited for logos and glyphs, but they can eat up your bandwidth – especially when the number of colors exceeds the maximum palette size. Our new algorithm considers the number of colors, transparency and client capabilities to decide whether the image is suitable for lossy compression. For graphic-like images, WebP lossless compression is used, if supported. These measures drastically reduce the resulting file size.

These advanced compression techniques may now be used for even more images: The parse action detects image content and then applies image scaling to it. These images are scaled according to the default image settings. As the URLs are the same for every client, the response is not publicly cacheable. Nevertheless, this allows you to reduce image payload, even if your image URLs are created or modified on-the-fly with JavaScript, as many responsive image libraries do.

Speaking of which, the new responsive-image-filtering reduces the HTML size by filtering out all image variants (picture/source or srcset) that a capable client would not use anyway. At the same time, image scaling and compression is applied to these images, too.

In addition to these features, we have improved our HTTP compatibility to properly pass HTML form uploads (multipart/form-data) through FIT, regardless of the field names used. In the other direction, HTML fragment responses can be detected automatically, which is often useful for sites making heavy use of AJAX.

The SDK available from Github is updated to 14.1.5, too.

Refer to the full changelog at our developer site for a more detailed list of changes.

FIT 14.1.4

We are happy to announce the release of FIT 14.1.4. It is a maintenance release comprising bugfixes and a number of enhancements. Many of which aim to provide seamless integration of FIT into existing Web site deployments to make use of the Web Accelerator features.

The SDK available from Github is updated to 14.1.4, too.

Refer to the full changelog at our developer site for a more detailed list of changes.

FIT 14.1.3

We have just released FIT 14.1.3. This version comes with a host of exciting new features:

At the core of FIT, there has always been a lot of HTTP functionality, and now there is even more. The new HTTP Cache partially implements RFC7234: FIT will store publicly cacheable responses from source servers according to their cache-related headers (e.g. Cache-Control). That means that fewer resources have to be retrieved from the origin servers, the time-to-first-byte decreases and inlining features will work out of the box. Since the feature is enabled by default, you will automatically benefit from cacheable backends. However, you can still configure caching rules manually or disable caching altogether in your sources.xml.

Besides caching, FIT now supports simple HTTP Range Requests on the client connection. Downloading partial documents has become a popular way to load video files. Thus, FIT now supports video playback and seeking in most browsers/players.

To maintain a readable configuration even for complex settings, the sources.xml file is now filtered. That enables you to use dynamic expressions that for example set different origin servers for development and production setups.

Furthermore, the filtered config files (sources.xml, urlmap.xml, flow.xml) now support Dynamic Attribute Values with the shorthand syntax: attribute="{expression}". This enables you to use DC properties or arbitrary strings computable with XPath in any setting.

For proxy-like setups, especially for the Web Accelerator, you can now configure the FIT frontend domain to have the same name as your origin server. That means, you just have to change your DNS to point to FIT and your setup is ready!

On the feature side, the Web Accelerator has interesting news as well. FIT now incorporates mozjpeg as a bundled third party library. On average, it encodes JPEG images into 25% smaller output files. This can significantly speed up the transfer and rendering of your Web page.

Many CSS files contain redundant, browser specific code. The CSS minifier can now strip unused CSS code with vendor prefixes (like -webkit) that do not apply to the requesting user agent. You have to enable the feature in config.xml.

The head reordering component can now remove duplicate scripts if the same URL is used in more than one script element. You have to enable the feature in config.xml.

All CSS files stored in Adaptive Components can now be combined into a single request with the new option <style-concat>. This may save a lot of HTTP requests in projects that use ACs to modularize their code.

Developers will find that the updated SDK will apply strict XML parsing to configuration files. FIT will throw an exceptions if your configuration is not well-formed. The debug output and log files will provide detailed information regarding the cause of the error.

Also, the vagrant user in the SDK can now write FIT configuration and cache files. Thanks to that, you can e.g. empty the cache of a project without entering the guest system: vagrant ssh -- fitadmin maintenance clearcache <project>

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

Your Tools, Your Rules! Heute Start von Sevenval FIT14

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  • Sevenval FIT14 ermöglicht Responsive Webdesign mit Performance-Optimierung
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Köln / Berlin, 02. September 2014 – Die Sevenval Technologies GmbH stellt heute das wichtigste Release ihrer Firmengeschichte vor: Mit Sevenval FIT14 kommt ein Software-Produkt auf den Markt, das alle Komponenten für die Erstellung und den Betrieb von Multi-Device Webseiten in einem Paket bündelt. Die Wandlung des Unternehmens vom reinen Mobile-Optimierer hin zum Frontend-Entwickler ist damit abgeschlossen. Continue reading

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Köln, 29. August 2014. Seit der Gründung Anfang 2014 berät das Team von Sevenval Consulting Unternehmen, die komplexe responsive Webprojekte zukunftssicher umsetzen möchten. Zu den Beratungsleistungen gehört die Entwicklung einer umfassenden digitalen Strategie sowie die konkrete Konzeption einer Web-Infrastruktur. Auf Wunsch folgt eine projektbegleitende Analyse der Umsetzung des neuen Online-Auftritts mit klaren Empfehlungen für das weitere Vorgehen. Dabei liegt der Fokus auf Webseiten, die für alle Geräte optimiert sind.  Continue reading