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ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion, Adobe Flex

ColdFusion: Article

Poor Man's HTTP Compression with ColdFusion

Speed up your Website and lower bandwidth utilization

There are a couple of things to note before we begin.

First, HTTP Compression is a great way to speed up your Website and lower bandwidth utilization all at the same time. In this example, your ColdFusion server (6.1 and above) will encode CFML output using GZIP and have the browser decompress this data on the fly. In a corporate environment, Webmasters may choose to go with third-party software such as Port80 Software's httpZip, which can compress other files as well, including .js, .css, and your HTML files. In this example, we are only compressing the generated HTML output from a .cfm template execution.

Doing a Google search will reveal many different Java servlet filters that can do the job for you for free. Many of them have issues with memory leaks, don't scale well, or have other issues related to them, so make sure you are picking one that has been well tested, and make sure to always test any server changes in a development environment before deploying to production. Another thing to note is that not all browsers support GZIP encoding, so make sure your user group is using Microsoft Internet Explorer 6+ and Firefox 1.0+.

As a side note, if you are using ColdFusion to consume data from another ColdFusion server that is using HTTP Compression, be sure to read Steven Erat's blog post on potential issues and workarounds at www.talkingtree.com/blog/index.cfm/2004/7/28/20040729. A couple of CFHTTPParam tags allow you to tell the server to send an uncompressed response. In this example, we will be using Coldbeans Software's Compress Filter, which is available at www.servletsuite.com/servlets/gzipflt.htm.

  • Step 1
    Shut down ColdFusion.

  • Step 2
    In cfroot\wwwroot\WEB-INF\lib, download the gzipflt.jar file.

    In cfroot\wwwroot\WEB-INF, edit the web.xml file and place the following XML markup near the end of the file just before the closing </web-app> element:

    <!-- start GZipFilter settings -->
    <filter>
    <filter-name>GzipFilter</filter-name>
    <filter-class>com.cj.gzipflt.GzipFilter</filter-class>
    </filter>
    <filter-mapping>
    <filter-name>GzipFilter</filter-name>
    <url-pattern>*.cfm</url-pattern>
    </filter-mapping>

  • Step 3
    Restart ColdFusion.

    That's it!

    The effects of the changes can be measured quite easily in Firefox using the Web Developers Extension version 1.1.3. This extension is available at http://chrispederick.com/work/webdeveloper/.

    Load the ColdFusion Administrator Login page. On the Web Developer Extension, if you click Information -> View Response Headers, you should see something similar to this:

    Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
    Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
    Content-Encoding: gzip
    Content-Length: 2261

    200 OK

    Note, Content-Encoding and Content-Length, both of which indicate that the GZIP filter is running successfully. Go back to the ColdFusion Administrator Login page and, on the Web Developer Extension, if you click Information -> View Document Size, you should see something similar to Figure 1.

    In the "Documents" line, note that it compressed the ColdFusion Administrator Login page to one-fourth its original size, giving you a total savings of 6 kb. This may not seem like a lot, but try the same thing after logging in. You should see something similar to Figure 2.

    This page shows a savings of almost 40 kb! Now that's huge. Bring up other Websites on this server and watch the savings add up!

    I'd like to thank Steven Erat for reviewing this article prior to publication.

  • More Stories By Sami Hoda

    Sami Hoda is an 11-year IT and Web development veteran with degrees in Computer Information Systems and Management & Human Resources. You'll find him reading profusely and passionate about best practices.

    Comments (12) View Comments

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    Most Recent Comments
    vconfused 10/28/09 12:16:19 AM EDT

    Like several other comments here I am getting the "500 There is no web application configured to service your request error". I dug into the server logs and found that it is because of a "Unsupported major.minor version" error. Can you update Java safely (using ColdFusion 6.1) or is it not worth it?

    robmac 10/13/09 08:28:00 PM EDT

    I integrated the same in my application. I downloaded the gzipflt.jar, saved it at the required position and modified In cfroot\wwwroot\WEB-INF\web.xml. But when i restarted cf application server.I got "500 There is no web application configured to service your request" when tried to access my site. When reverted all the the thing, started working. I am using cf7.
    any ideas?

    robmac 10/12/09 01:03:00 AM EDT

    I am getting the same error as subhankar. Any ideas?

    justin.dunham 10/09/09 02:13:00 PM EDT

    I ran across an odd problem and wanted to see if anyone had any experience with it.
    I use the filter above and it works great, cuts down page sizes as expected.

    I am doing a zip download using cfcontent and it won't work in IE for some reason the file always said it was corrupt, works fine in FireFox, Opera, etc.
    After some investigation the IE version of the download wasn't getting the gzip decoded by the browser. I can use a cflocation to get to the zip after it's created, but this means I can't secure the files which isn't good for me. Is there a way to not apply the gzip filter on a script level basis? Or perhaps trick it into thinking the browser does not accept gzip encoding?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    subhankar 08/17/09 06:25:00 AM EDT

    I integrated the same in my application. I downloaded the gzipflt.jar, kept it at the required position and modified In cfroot\wwwroot\WEB-INF\web.xml. But when i restarted cf application server.I got "500 There is no web application configured to service your request" when tried to access my site. When reverted all the the thing, started working. I am using cf7.
    Can you suggest where i am going wrong?

    Cita 11/01/07 01:35:39 PM EDT

    Hi,

    I tested my website with and without GZIP but speed is pretty much the same. I just followed the instructions here. I'm using CF7 and IE7.

    Thanks,
    Cita

    ??????? 08/16/07 12:01:17 AM EDT

    nice

    Ismael 06/04/07 07:25:16 AM EDT

    Hi,

    First of all, I would like to thank you for such a great article. The gzipftl.jar worked wonder for us. The only
    problem I had is when this is paired with trimflt.jar(to trim whitespace).

    Do you know if there's a workaround?

    Thank you.
    Ismael

    Michael Long 03/28/07 07:29:57 PM EDT

    Be nice to have listed the tradeoffs and provided some benchmarks. Yes, the resulting file size is smaller, but since the per-page processing overhead is higher, what's the net effect? Is the site faster, slower, or pretty much the same? Or is the sole reason for doing this simply to cut down on your bandwidth bill?

    Amnon 03/28/07 06:15:15 PM EDT

    Hi Sami,

    Thanks for the article. Do u have any suggestions on how I could do exactly the same for Flex remote object calls against cfcs using amf?

    Cheers,

    Amnon

    Joost van der Drift 03/19/07 09:18:21 AM EDT

    Hi,
    it seems that Gzip scrambles special characters. E.g. a single quote becomes a question mark, just like ë.
    How can that be solved? Is that because the code really has an ë instead of &eacut;?

    Sam Curren 03/17/07 01:39:34 AM EDT

    Is there some reason to use this over built in web server compression? IIS and Apache can both be configured to compress both static files and dynamically generated pages. With this method, only dynamic content is compressed....

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