[ic] UTF-8 Advantages/Disadvantages

Bill Carr bill at bottlenose-wine.com
Sat May 29 12:24:34 UTC 2010

On May 28, 2010, at 11:00 AM, Chris Keane wrote:

> Hey all,
> What are the advantages of running with UTF-8 on an english language site? The main reason I ask is that we're seeing truly significant performance hits on 5.7.2 with UTF enabled vs disabled.
> Our test: 
> 	• we run our entire system in the Amazon Compute Cloud
> 	• The main production IC layer server is configured as a CPU-heavy machine (2.5 cores at 2.5GHz each)
> 	• Some of the pages, especially those with nested loops are atrocious. The same code on one of our older servers running 5.4 runs a factor of 10x faster.
> 	• For testing purposes and to keep the same environment, I booted a new instance of the exact same server as the production server. It uses the exact same DB backend server, the catalogs were cloned, mounted on the new test server and the only configuration changes were to the server URL in the catalogs and the apache config.
> 	• UTF-8 was disabled on the new test server through MINIVEND_DISABLE_UTF8=1 and setting all the directives for UTF-8 in the global and catalog configs to be 0 or commented out.
> 	• The exact same page was loaded on the production system and the new test system. It's a complex page that produces a financial summary for a race event, broken down by entries, classes and produces some nice graphs. This page (and some of our others) use multiple subloops, which I know introduces performance issues.
> 	• Test system (no UTF-8): 5 seconds, Production system (UTF-8): 49 seconds
> As you can see, 5 seconds vs 49 seconds is significant and I'm sure you appreciate that it's the difference between a quietly happy customer and a wildly dissatisfied one. So we'll be disabling UTF-8 on the production server today in time for this weekend's race events. 
> Perl 5.10.0
> Encode 2.39
> IC 5.7.2
> To help us make a good decision going forward can someone explain the relative merits of UTF-8 in an english-only site? Alternately, any updates into how to fix the horrible slowness of the UTF-8 enabled site, preferably through config changes or updates rather than by rewriting all the loops ;)
I'm very interested in this discussion also. I have not been able to run any 5.7.x versions of Interchange in production. I see similar increases in load time compared with 5.4 which we currently run. I'm not sure if we've narrowed it down to a UTF-8 issue. We make websites for wine merchants and have words like "Château" all over the place. This make me think we need UTF-8 enabled but I could be mistaken. The whole UTF-8 thing is very confusing to me.

Bill Carr 
Bottlenose - Wine & Spirits eBusiness Specialists 
(413) 584-0400 

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