With the ever increasing use of third party calls off site one runs across days when site struggles to finish loading - something I hate.

Case in point today gravatar.com is acting up and two sites I'm currently jumping back and fourth between are failing to finish loading one on a couple of script/content calls. Ok it's not a huge issue as largely the sites do function despite this but at times these unresolving calls can cause dynamic content to fail to load, depending I guess at which stage things start to struggle.

It feels to me that all sites are becoming hugely dependent on a lot of other sites to actually function in their fullest I've never thought this a great idea but seems as though we have to accept it *shrug* or am I worrying too much Smile

This is something that I've

This is something that I've always considered. A while back I wrote a plugin for Wordpress and phpBB that included a very extensive database. When I wrote it there was no other option but other free services that offered similar results started popping up. They all relied on outside servers so I pointed out that important fact and everyone ignored me. Everyone started gravitating to them because there was no database to install and it was usually a simple line that included a javascript file but as you can imagine the free services all started going defunct. All my sites continued to work with no issues while the others were getting timeouts and general failures. :nyah:

And you started lots of posts

And you started lots of posts off with 'told you so' Smile

That is another aspect, what servers are going to be around? I think all too often people forget that all servers have to be paid for by someone, what if they start to get hammered? do the owners realise they haven't enough pocket money to cover their charges - no being silly there but still there is no service level guarantee, if I'm running production level business site there aint no way on earth I'm trusting to anyone less than the likes of Amazon and there cloud network as it will be around, but even with them they are not obliged to maintain services, do I have any sort of SLA?

Erm should never have mentioned you write plugins for Wordpress as I'm currently heavily involved in a WPMU/BuddyPress installation and will have to tackle the rather odd and somewhat over complicated? nature of event driven plugin coding soon as there is too much that simply doesn't function on a sane level Big smile

Hugo wrote: ... Erm should

Hugo wrote:

... Erm should never have mentioned you write plugins for Wordpress ...

"Wrote"! As in past tense. Tongue I don't do php anything anymore.

Each time you rely on an

Each time you rely on an external site you are putting yourself at their mercy.
You could be also taking some of the pressure off your own server.
After the last upgrade I added gravatar support to make it easier for members to manage their avatar. These days with many sites requiring registration, sites like gravatar simplify the process a little by allowing you to manage your avatar for multiple sites in one place.
We also rely on Mollom to help manage spam, which is set to fail gracefully on a bad connection.
Maybe I should look to see if it is possible to timeout the gravatar module early and display the default avatar on bad connections.
It would also be interesting to see how many users actually are making use of gravatar.

Taking pressure of ones own

Taking pressure of ones own server is one of the main attractions in many ways, a sort of poor mans load distribution.

Gravatar was one of the issues yesterday, and it occurred to me watching the browser load icon spinning away that perhaps some form of fail over was needed, a defacto standard to time out these third party scripts.

I suspect, as neat an idea as Gravatar is, that not many do use it or at least the main body of people using it are the like of us, slightly more technically savy users. I know that when I was porting our member base over to WPMU and having to manually set user profiles and with the settings set to use Gravatars if available very few appeared after I had saved a profile, a few did but most avatars were user uploaded, in fact it got me thinking that as a company that tends to sign up to many services / register member lists we ought to have a gravatar so we didn't have to upload graphics every time so saved a company avatar to use on enabled sites.

On a slight tangent, but runnnig along the lines of the Gravatar service idea it would make sense to extend it to include profile details that could be used globally, something along the lines of the openID principle. Perhaps openID does serve that purpose, perhaps Gravatar ought to really be part of openID, all details in one place, providing profile details for registrations and logins.