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October 18th, 2007

Oh Happy Days! Automattic Acquires Gravatar

Is it my birthday? As a matter of fact it almost is and it was so nice of Matt Mullenweg (that wonderful guy who brought us WordPress) and his company Automattic to acquire Gravatar.

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.

About the Author
Nick Gernert leads the Platform Services team that's part of Voce Connect and oversees all web development efforts as well as making sure all those efforts are strategically sound. He is on Twitter as @nickgernert.

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