One of the challenges of working with visual media online is that the landscape is always changing, but not every change is immediately relevant. A promising new image format might not be supported widely enough to adopt—until the largest device maker in the world adopts it and suddenly it is.
Part of imgix's goal is to handle this complexity so our customers don't have to. That's why we're pleased to announce support for the High Efficiency Image File Format (commonly known as HEIF or HEIC) at the same time it becomes the standard storage format for images in iOS 11.
imgix customers will be able to ingest HEIC images natively and perform our full suite of operations on them, including transcoding and serving them in any of the 11 output formats we support. There are no changes necessary to take advantage of this—all imgix parameters will just work on HEIC images without modification. This will be especially useful to customers who deal with user-generated content—iOS 11 users’ photos will display correctly even if they’re uploaded in the new format, which is currently unsupported by most browsers.
If you have any questions about HEIC, please reach out to your account rep or drop us a line at email@example.com.
Online publications tell important stories, and visuals are the vehicle driving those stories forward. The popular website Upworthy harnesses the power of viral content for good, creating visual stories that spread across social media as a way to raise awareness of important issues. The site generates over 50 million pageviews each month, but is maintained by a team of just six engineers.
Succeeding at such a massive scale with a small team has meant being smart and scrappy. The Upworthy dev team has a motto: focus on little things that have a huge impact. When they began searching for ways to boost metrics and streamline editorial processes, they noticed that image handling was coming up again and again. When a page was underperforming, a poorly-optimized image was usually involved. Pages loaded slowly because images were too large, or else the visual design of the page would be marred by overly-compressed imagery.
By design, the experience of using imgix is pretty seamless. Once a Source for photos has been set up, you simply put the parameters for the transformations you need into a photo’s URL and it is almost instantaneously served to your specifications.
Yet this seeming simplicity actually hides a lot that’s going on under the hood. Requests are rendered and then fulfilled by a robust content delivery network with a sophisticated caching layer. This means the request actually goes through quite a few more steps than you might expect.
There are big benefits to this sophisticated approach—it cuts latency, improves stability and maximizes performance. Yet it also has some implications for how imgix is best implemented. For that reason, we thought it might be useful to give an overview of what happens at each stage in the process.
Today, we’re announcing expansion of our network to 33 edge nodes worldwide, with support for a new node in São Paulo, Brazil. We now have nodes in more than 16 countries worldwide, including recent additions in Dubai, Madrid, Paris, Johannesburg, Montreal, and Toronto.
Page load speed continues to be a primary concern for websites. With increasing numbers of customers accessing sites on mobile connections, and markets expanding into areas with uneven broadband coverage, load times have a big impact on conversion.
But “speed” can be a nebulous measure. We recommend using page weight, or the combined file sizes of every element on a page, as a proxy. Unlike speed, it’s objective, measurable and actionable. Slow because of a heavy page? Find the heaviest elements and try to shrink them.
Images are often up to 70 percent of a page by weight. That means image optimization is usually an easy win. Yet it’s not always easy to know where to start. Last year, we launched Page Weight, a tool designed to guide you to your worst-performing images quickly and provide straightforward optimization suggestions. Today, based on feedback from users, we’re launching an improved version that makes picking that low-hanging fruit even easier.
When I set out to build imgix 6 years ago, I was very aware that we were asking our customers to trust us with something fundamental to their success: the visual performance of their product. To earn that trust, we need to provide the best value, performance, and reliability.
Sadly, we have failed in that commitment over the last few weeks. Our performance has not been at the level our customers demand of us. Worse, with the entire team working around the clock to fix these problems, we have been unable to communicate what was happening. This is unacceptable to me.
I want to personally apologize to any customer who felt that imgix did not value their business during this time. We built imgix to enable our customers to do great things, and that partnership must always be built on trust and open communication.
In that spirit, I want to speak bluntly about the issues we have had, explain why they happened, and let you know what we are doing to make things right. A number of factors have contributed to imgix's recent performance problems. We have solved some of them, and are working hard on the remaining issues and taking further steps to keep situations like this from impacting our customers in the future.