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Sencha.com: Fighting Fit Again

May 20, 2011 | James Pearce

Here at Sencha, we’re constantly aware of how much you depend on our frameworks, tools, services and forums — to learn new skills, to develop amazing apps, and even just to hang out with our amazing community.

But we also know how frustrating it can be when things that you rely on on a daily basis suddenly aren’t, well, reliable. And how frustrating it can be when you don’t know why.

So, we’d like to apologize for some of the issues we’ve been having recently with our web server, and in particular, the performance of our forums, documentation, and main site. And explain how we got there and what we’re doing to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Firstly, like many other companies, we use Amazon Web Services to provide much of our web server infrastructure, and were affected by that service’s downtime several weeks ago. That certainly caused us to think carefully about how we wanted to provide more tolerance for our main site. Shortly afterwards, we launched Ext JS 4.0, a major upgrade to our flagship desktop framework, and accordingly we also doubled the number of our server instances to handle the demand.

Meanwhile, as part of the Ext JS SDK, we wanted to demonstrate exciting new features such as infinite scrolling and the buffered grid — and we needed to show their use against a real-world data source. Quite reasonably (we thought), we chose our own community forum’s database for many of our examples — a large and dynamic data source that we could easily create a server-side API for.

At this point, the unfortunate consequence probably writes itself. A highly popular SDK, containing a large number of highly data-driven demos, being used by tens of thousands of developers around the world all at once, via a larger pool of servers… all accessing a single database instance.

Sadly the database simply couldn’t take it in its stride. Although designed for the vBulletin forum software itself, it just didn’t have the appropriate optimizations for the sheer number of direct data queries that were being made.

So as a result, you’ll have noticed that forums have been running significantly slower than usual. And worse, on a small number of occasions recently, the impact has been significant enough to affect the other sites that rely on the same database server: namely the Sencha web site itself, our online documentation, and SenchaDevs.

But now that we have identified the cause of the issue, we’ve addressed it in a number of ways. We’ve optimized the database for the queries that the SDK grid examples are making, and for future versions of these examples, we’ll be using alternative data sources. We’ll also be distributing the database instances for different sites across different physical servers.

Finally, we’re installing European instances of our services so that developers to the east of GMT should have greatly improved responsiveness for all of these sites.

(As an aside, we’d also like to point out that our newly announced Sencha.io cloud services run on entirely different infrastructure. They are also proving extremely popular, but are designed to be completely scalable with demand, and have not been affected at all by this issue.)

So we’re on top of it, and are sure we’re able to put these disappointing events behind us. Our apologies again for any inconvenience caused.

And of course we hope to see you all on those blazingly-fast forums again!

There are 18 responses. Add yours.

Michael Stahle

3 years ago

Yep, you weren’t the only ones hurt by Amazon.  Still awesome frameworks, good, useful forums, and over all useful site!  The only thing missing is the tutorial section. 

Cheers!

Michael

Jay Garcia

3 years ago

I can now resume my regularly scheduled forum trolling smile.

MrSparks

3 years ago

Well done guys! Great work getting the services back to what we need.

Jeremy Johnson

3 years ago

Glad to hear the issues are fixed and I get back to searching the forums and API docs as needed wink

Keep up the great work guys!

Aaron Bartell

3 years ago

Thanks for the full disclosure.  That is much appreciated.

James

3 years ago

This is great news!! A big step closer to making me a happy Sencha developer onece again. grin

AwesomeBob

3 years ago

Have you compared Amazon’s web services against Rackspace’s cloud? If so what reasons lead you to Amazon over Rackspace?

Mats

3 years ago

Very good news indeed wink

Michael Mullany

3 years ago

Bob - we haven’t compared Rackspace to Amazon. AWS uptime was pretty good for the last two years, so we thought we were pretty safe on it. In addition, it was cost-competitive, constantly rolling out new features and had a good bevy of tools and tools companies supporting it.

AwesomeBob

3 years ago

Okay thanks for the info. The only reason I ask is because I’ve been developing on the Rackspace Cloud and I wanted to see how AWS compared.

S├ębastien Volle

3 years ago

Good news, thanks for the transparency.

Ryan Stuart

3 years ago

Would Amazon RDS or a NoSQL solution like Mongo solve your problems? Or is this already how you have solved them?

snailgem

3 years ago

thank you, much better performance, tho still the occasional lag (you’re hitting fields-master.acquia.com, does this mean you’re not using the sencha.io cloud any more?)

maybe an upgrade to the prehistoric tutorials next? ;——-)

camelCase

3 years ago

Did you fix the API Docs center at the same time? The old docs web app had performed perfectly for years, then the new investment money triggered a redesign of the docs center that was a perfect example everything a RIA web app should not do. When a new page arrived, is was rendered, then a second later it went through some belated CSS reformat convulsion. But worst of all the navigation tree then completely repainted, followed by a multi phase wriggle and pop tree expansion before the original doc item selection was highlighted once more.

As to the look and feel of the new doc center, did you sub contract the design to the original creator of Bindows?

Nick Poulden

3 years ago

@camelCase please see http://docs.sencha.com/ext-js/4-0  for the most recent version of the documentation which addresses all the issues you mentioned. Improvements over the old documentation app include the ability to function over the file:// protocol and History and Favorites dropdowns which persist across browser sessions by harnessing Local Storage.

We will be publishing updates to the documentation as and when new features are added rather than waiting for a new release so please keep an eye on http://docs.sencha.com/ext-js/4-0 for updates.

David Easley

3 years ago

> Improvements over the old documentation app include ... History and Favorites

Please, how do I create a Favorite?

Jeff Dahlberg

3 years ago

I just had to comment on your up-front update!  Doesn’t happen in every company.

Jennifer

3 years ago

I agree with Jeff. Not many companies give such honest updates.

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