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Using HTTP Compression in PHP: Make Your Web Pages Load Faster

Web developers are always looking for ways to reduce the loading time of their pages. This article, the first of three parts, shows you how to make PHP pages load faster by showing you how to compress dynamic PHP pages. Techniques covered include using PHP's built-in “gzencode()” function, along with output buffering control functions.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Using HTTP Compression in PHP: Make Your Web Pages Load Faster
  2. The basics of data compression: writing a simple "crunching" PHP script
  3. Moving one step forward: using real HTTP compression on parsed PHP files
  4. Compressing data by "Gzip:" defining the "getCompressedContent()" function
By: Alejandro Gervasio
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 32
April 10, 2006

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Introduction

Due to its inherent versatility, PHP provides developers with the ability to develop different mechanisms for reducing the loading time of parsed PHP pages. When it comes to optimizing methods for making PHP pages load faster, I covered the topic across several articles, which have been previously published right here, on the prestigious Developer Shed network, ranging from how to develop an (X)HTML caching system, to implementing a MySQL result set caching mechanism.

Of course, reducing the load time of parsed PHP pages isn't limited to developing caching systems of a different nature. There are many other techniques that can be used, either as standalone or integrated solutions, in order to tackle some performance issues and deliver quickly dynamic content.

Admittedly, making web pages (static or dynamic ones) load quicker is actually a fine-tuning process, which involves not only using the caching methods that I mentioned before, but implementing other well-known approaches. These include optimizing CSS, JavaScript and Flash files, compressing images, and eventually the optimization of additional elements that might be requested together with a web document, like Java applets.

While the previous optimization methods are used frequently during the development of a Web application, in order to reduce the amount of data transmitted across different HTTP requests, in general terms caching systems are aimed at decreasing the frequency that data is sent through a specific network (local networks, intranets, extranets or the Internet as a whole). However, are these techniques the only ones used to optimize web pages? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding No!

Just in case you weren't aware of it, a few years ago most modern browsers began to support HTTP compression as a transparent layer. This can be extremely useful when looking for additional ways to reduce the amount of data transmitted between a Web server and a client. As a result, this technique also can be taken into account if you want to make your PHP pages load considerably faster.

Since PHP offers a powerful built-in library for handling HTTP compressed data, over this series I'll explain the basics of working with HTTP-compressed PHP pages. I'll illustrate, with several code samples, different methods for compressing dynamic PHP pages. So, do you want to learn how to take advantage of HTTP compression in your own PHP applications? Right, start reading to find out how this is done!



 
 
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