Speed Enhancements in ICM 2.4 Release

Last night, nuCloud pushed the 2.4 release to their Interactive Campus Map (ICM) platform to all customer. The main focus of this release was on speeding up the end user experience with a couple of stories dealing directly with speed optimization, and some other minor bug fixes thrown in. In the slides below you can see the specifics of this release. As always, remember that you have to republish your map for these updates to take effect. Also in this rare case you need to update your map URLs too.

Speed Enhancements through Global CDN and Compression

In order to speed up the experience for viewers of the map we tackled two major initiatives in this release. First of all, we have made changes to fully leverage Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloudfront service. Through Amazon’s network of Edge Locations we are able to distribute our customer’s content over five continents for better response times to end users around the world.

AWS Global Infrastructure

AWS Global Infrastructurea

Reducing file size improves performance, as well, and we targeted several parts of the platform to address that. By better targeting file compression of our JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheet files we can now offer users an experience that reduces map load times by over 60% – including both desktop and mobile users. This all leads to a much improved user experience, as entry time to the map is reduced, and the overall responsiveness of the platform is much better, leading to happier customers and visitors.

In our testing, through these combined efforts, we have seen a decrease in map load times of approximately 66%.

The Other Stories

Although speed was the main focus of this release we also tossed in a handful of other smaller stories. The following three stories are specific ones brought to our attention by customers that we are excited to roll out.

In 2.1 we initially released our 508 Compliant Maps and it was time to come back and make a few tweaks. Nothing major in these changes – we primarily targeted the markup so it would be more semantic and offer better compatibility for screen readers – but we hope that they make our 508 Compliant Maps more usable for users.

The search functionality on the standard map displayed results in a confusion fashion. We improved upon this by removing extra clicks required to get to stops. If there is only one stop that matches your search result then we open that location immediately. We also brought the search results front and center so that they are easy to see.

Finally, icons have been a secondary option to point out interesting information on a map as an alternative to Markers, and they can be a powerful feature for those that use them. We standardized the backend experience to use the Marker section of the Library instead of defaulting to images where it was confusing. This won’t affect most of our customers but those that use icons will hopefully find that this is a nice improvement.

What’s Next?

We have already picked a handful of stories for a minor 2.4.1 release. When you are changing a lot of moving parts to optimize performance it is best to not touch all those parts at the same time. Now that the dust has settled on some of these bigger speed efforts we want to keep pushing for more performance increases. We have knocked out the low hanging fruit related to speed but there are incremental items that we can tweak. Most notably map tile image optimization and better mobile loading through AJAX. If you have any requests or ideas, be sure to submit them over at our UserVoice page. We’d love to know what you think will make our platform better for you and your visitors!

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