Speeding up Rails Views and Design Decisions

At work, we recently encountered 2 very slow pages, both of them revolved around loading a list of accounts in HAML (around +2000). One page was loading them into a table and using jQuery DataTables to turn the table into an interactive interface. The other page was loading those accounts in a select tag and using Select2 to make them easily searchable.

Early on, when they were loaded by AJAX. It was premature optimised since it was only loading 200-300 accounts, so we decided to render it in HAML. But now, it became a bit of a problem when the app got bigger:

  • Users, about 80 of them, started complaining when all of them accessed these pages.
  • Pages loaded at an average of 7-8 seconds, at worst some waited for 15 seconds.
  • Server-side wise, ActiveRecord pulls these records under 100ms, so improvements needed to happen on the browser-side.
  • By the way, these were easily pinpointed by NewRelic and Airbrake :)
  • The asset pipeline has already minified and served the assets as single files (css/js).

Some action steps:

  1. Use AJAX and pull down the data, set the cache to true, serve the page up first, process and load the DOM later from the data pulled down by AJAX.
  2. Enable GZip Compression in your web server.
  3. Cache-header, expire them in the far future.
  4. Use stale?, use E-Tag headers (304 Not Modified), it lessens stress at server-side.

Safe to say, we brought it down to a page load of 1-2 seconds tops, and we can still improve on that by refactoring and re-strategising.