Gravatar is really a great idea. You create an account using your e-mail address as the key, and upload your avatar. Then, any time you use your e-mail address on a site supporting Gravatars, your picture is brought in for the world to see. There was just one problem: Gravatar was plagued by some poor performance issues.
Luckily the Gravatar plugin for WordPress has caching and when that is mixed with wp-cache you can alleviate most of the performance problems (at least on subsequent page loads, but not that first one). Still, when creating/supporting a blog such as the PlayStation Blog, even the smallest of inefficiencies can become big headaches. Just load up a post with 895 comments and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Seems like my frustrations are already on the way to being a thing of the past as Automattic has already made changes, but most importantly this one:
Avatar serving is now more than three times as fast, and works every time.
Wow. It’s been one day and look at that progress. Here’s a few more highlights on the upcoming changes:
- Move the gravatar serving to a Content Delivery Network so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load.
- Develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses.
- Rewrite the application itself (site.gravatar.com) to fit directly into our WordPress.com grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability
Can’t wait for these updates.