Speed improvements, upgrades and more behind the scenes stuff

Speed improvements, upgrades and more behind the scenes stuff

It has been quite a while since you last heard from us. But we have been very busy, we can assure you. It’s just that most of the work we have been doing is quite invisible. Chances are, however, you noticed that start.me is a lot faster. Oh, and you may have ran into some annoying errors recently. Sorry about that. So what have we been doing?

Improving overall speed of start.me

We are constantly trying to improve start.me. Sometimes, we add some nice features. Those are generally quick to do and have a nice and visible result. More difficult it is, however, to improve overall speed. That takes a lot of coffee and effort to do and results are usually not all that visible. Last month, we really dug in and made things go a lot faster!

To make a long story short: as the chart below shows, we managed to reduce the average time it takes to render a start.me page from 400 ms down to 150 ms. That’s a reduction of over 60% and something you will surely notice, especially on devices with less powerful hardware. You should be able to notice that your pages display faster and you get access to your bookmarks a lot sooner!

Upgrading server software

As you may or may not know, start.me runs on Ruby on Rails (RoR) server software. RoR is a fantastic framework and we are proud to be able to use it for start.me. However, we had some overdue upgrades. Last week, we took care of upgrading our RoR-setup to the newest version available. And those upgrades, just like about any upgrade, introduced some nice new features, but broke some others, too.

Last week, after deploying the upgrade, we got quite a lot of mails from worried users. They were experiencing problems signing in. The report we received most often was about continuously having to sign in or not being able to sign in at all. With the help of some dedicated users, we found out what was causing the problems. We filed appropriate bug reports and worked around the issues as good as we could. Things should be working all fine again. And you actually may notice a speed improvement from this upgrade!

Removing cookies helps!

For those of you that are still being plagued with sign-in issues: it is worth clearing your browser cache and cookies. Some browsers need this to be able to operate properly again with our newer software. Instructions for clearing your cache can be found here for FirefoxChromeEdgeInternet Explorer and Opera.

Anonymous account recovery

Quite some users of start.me have an anonymous account. That means they never signed up. The anonymous account is associated with the browser through a cookie. That means that the account will be lost when cookies are (accidentally) cleared. For those of you that fear that might happen one day: we introduced a recovery option.

On their Account page, anonymous users will now find a recovery section. It contains a URL that anonymous  users can bookmark or write down somewhere. Through that URL, their account can always be accessed, even after cookies have been removed. To be able to transfer anonymous accounts to other devices as well, the recovery section also contains a QR-code. Scanning that with a mobile device will automatically associate the anonymous account with the device.

Feedback much appreciated

As you can see, we have been working quite hard to make things better. We hope you appreciate the speed improvements. Please let us know when you still experience problems. And if you like to support our efforts: consider going Premium! We still have a limited-time Premium for life offer available!

3 Replies to “Speed improvements, upgrades and more behind the scenes stuff”

  1. Much appreciated. I did notice a couple sign-in issues but they went away quickly. So nice to have a home page that’s so customizable and to hear from the people behind the scenes.

  2. It seems to load faster, but you still have to change start.me’s tabs in order to have newest articles from feeds. I mean, you run your web browser, go to any start.me tab with feeds, then change to another start.me tab and go back to the previous one — Only then you will see how all feeds update in a sudden. Still a little annoying behavior. Hope you guys fix this.

    Best.

    1. That’s indeed something we are looking to fix. Right now, as soon as you open a page, all custom feeds will be scheduled for an update. The widget does not automatically catch up on the update. We intend to fix this, both by prefetching all feeds for Premium users and by adding an auto-update feature to the feed widget.

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