Hello! It’s me again, with another update to HackIt. If you remember, HackIt 2.0 was when we announced that we’d be moving to individual blogs on a WordPress-based system, migrating from our Drupal site. Since then, we started numbering our site releases and major changes to our site code by versions. When we carried out our site-wide redesign and rolled out the same constant theme to all of our sites (as you will have seen on the News site before we rolled it out everywhere else), we numbered that version HackIt 2.1. Now we’re bringing another update to the table – HackIt 2.2.
Version 2.2 of our podcasting and publishing engine brings a few new features, but it also loses one major one – our custom font. Ever since we started using this theme, I’ve hated that font. The only thing that stopped me from getting rid of it was that I didn’t know it was custom – it wasn’t nice and it looked weird, but I always assumed that it was part of the standard web-safe set. However, when I ran a site performance analysis earlier this morning, it appeared that there were three font files that were part of the custom font – and each was taking between ten and twenty seconds to load from fresh on a computer that had never loaded our site before. This was clearly a problem that needed to be fixed – we could not afford for our site’s loading time to take such a drastic hit. So, about two hours ago, our custom font was officially decommissioned and taken down. It has been replaced by what would have been its default fallback anyway should it have failed to load, which is Helvetica, with Arial on standby and then the default sans-serif on the user’s system.
Instantly, I started seeing a much bigger change. The site now took seven seconds to load completely, down from the previous fifteen or sixteen, and repeat views took merely two seconds. Browsers no longer have to download all three TrueType files (yes, we did use TrueType files and not Typekit or Google Web Fonts integration, a mistake of which I now feel I should be ashamed, but hey, I didn’t develop the theme) and render the font in the page. They can just use Helvetica to improve the loading time for the users (that’d be you).
Also new in HackIt 2.2 is system-wide menus – every time we want to roll out a new menu item we no longer have to access each site in turn and edit the menus. I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner. On top of that, we can now instantly replicate site settings throughout the network – on SOPA/PIPA protest day (January 18th, 2012), we blacked out our entire network. And yes, we did go in by hand and set each individual site to Dark mode. However, that night, we had set up a new system that would allow us to set all our sites back to Light mode, which we used. It worked, and so we can now use it for all manner of configuration changes.
So, that’s it for HackIt 2.2′s release post. We’re already working on features for 2.3, but we hope that this release will make our site even better.