WSGI makes us faster, simpler, nicer!

September 20, 2007

We’ve been working for a long time on getting certain infrastructural things fixed. For example, did you know up until now we’ve been running on CGI? As we posted before, the original plan was to get Trac running on a cluster of tracd’s, much like the cluster of Mongrel’s we use for the Rails part of DevjaVu.

Just think about that. At our simplest setup, we’d have 2 Mongrel processes and 2 tracd processes. Plus we have to run Apache for Subversion given our setup. But wait, then we have this load balanced across several machines! With every machine we add, we’d get another set of these processes to worry about.

I was okay with Mongrels, but really, I was a bit upset coming from PHP about how much more I had to worry about to make sure the application was running. With mod_php you can just assume that if Apache is up, the app is up. With Rails and any FCGI or Mongrel-like setup, there were now two layers, one of which is usually a cluster of processes that could die or leak memory.

So recently we started writing a new application to replace our Rails part of DevjaVu. We’re writing it in Pylons, which is really nice and Rails-like, while still very Pythonic. This led us to mod_wsgi, which boasted faster performance than mod_python, and was even easier to configure. We tried our new app on our dev server with mod_wsgi and it was very nice. Then I realized Trac had WSGI support, so I tried Trac on mod_wsgi. Perfect!

After a few changes, DevjaVu production is now running Trac on mod_wsgi. Pages are loading almost twice as fast! Our setup is simpler, too. Once we replace our Rails app with the Pylons app, we can run everything with Apache. We’re stuck with Apache for a while anyway, so why not roll everything in? Faster. Simpler.

And we can finally have nice URLs for real! Let me explain:

Before, we had to have URLs like this:

That was redundant, long and ugly. We were able to rewrite our ideal shorter URLs to the longer version, so you could use URLs like this:

However, that was just a cosmetic rewrite and Trac would always generate the long URLs.

Now, Trac generates the short URLs all the time and the short URLs are the proper, non-rewritten way Apache serves the request. We have the long versions that you probably have posted around the web do a permanent redirect to the short ones. This way you can still use them, but you should update your links at some point since they are now deprecated.

Anyway, that was fun. Hope you enjoy the changes. We have a lot more coming up. Let us know if you run into problems.


18 Responses to “WSGI makes us faster, simpler, nicer!”

  1. Boris Masis Says:

    Hi guys, thats great news about the faster performance! Question though, looks like DevjaVu has been down for several hours in the morning for the last couple days. Is that upgrade related? Any news?

  2. Jeff Lindsay Says:

    Yes, there’s been some conflicts with our recent upgrades and Engine Yard’s setup, so we’re working with them to resolve this.

  3. Mike Says:


    The infrastructure upgrade sounds awesome! I actually just emigrated from Rails back to PHP (in part because of endless deployment issues), and I was curious–aside from the reason for your choosing Pylons/WSGI (which presumably is because it is Rails-like), had you gone with, say, PHP, would you have seen comparable performance or is mod_wsgi faster?


  4. Jeff Lindsay Says:

    Well one other reason we went with Pylons/WSGI for our custom app and site is because Trac is already Python, so if WSGI served both we’d simplify everything down to mod_wsgi.

    I’m not sure I can compare PHP (mod_php I assume) to mod_wsgi, but since they’re both designed around the same concept, they’d be comparable in speed other than the interpreter run-time speed difference, which I can’t imagine is all that different.

  5. Albert Lash Says:


    Devjavu looks cool, I found you via Sycamore, which I became interested in after using Trac for a few weeks and am really digging it. I’m a huge fan of Apache, it has is minor flaws so many benefits. With the new mod_dbd and mod_rewrite stuff that’s in the works, its going to get better and better. Good luck with this new service!


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