Tuesday 21 August 2012

What affects Dolphin4 speed - part 2

This post is a follow on from our previous post regarding factors that affect the speed of Dolphin, you can read it here.

We will cover the next 2 factors that influence the speed at which Dolphin works, which are the PostgreSQL database set-up , and settings ( as well as the version ) , and customised changes that are made to the version of Dolphin you are working on.


PostgreSQL is an open source database. It is designed for high volume environments1  meaning it is designed to handle large data sets with many transactions.

This makes it the perfect fit for a printing company handling many quotes with a large number of quantities and variables, and then converting those quotes into jobs which can be followed through production ,invoicing and delivery, all in a single software package.

The performance you get out of your installed copy of PostgreSQL however , is highly reliant on how it has been configured for you , and the version you have.

The following guidelines apply for managing your database
  • Dolphin integrates quite tightly with the version stream numbered 8.4.X. ,  we like to keep clients up to date on the latest versions of PostgreSQL, as there are often bug fixes released by PostgreSQL that directly affect Dolphin clients, and the perceived performance of Dolphin. 
  • We have found in our testing of Dolphin running PostgreSQL version 9 , that Dolphin is significantly slower it would be with version 8.4. For this reason we do not recommend or support installations of Dolphin with version 9 of PostgreSQL, because we know they will not be as efficient or as fast as the 8.4 versions. 
  • If your minimum settings are wrong, performance on Dolphin could be erratic and the more data you create ( i.e. more quotes and more jobs ) the slower the performance will become ; there are 3 key settings that need to be configured ( the full details are explained in this post) , which is why, in newer versions we have inserted a warning message at login which will tell you when these settings are wrong. 
  • Your database settings may need to be tweaked over time.  Databases require management , smaller databases tend to require less management than larger ones, but overall, a database cannot be set-up and left indefinitely. We recommend as a minimum , that every time you renew your license for another 6 months , you should ask your Distributor to take a look at your database settings and make sure that everything is optimally configured for you and the data that you have. If you experience any issues in between renewals you should contact your Distributor as soon as they occur, so they can assist you. 
  • Virus Scanners - one of the biggest issues affecting PostgreSQL and our clients,  is when anti-virus software packages bring out new updates. At best , dolphin runs slower for a day or 2 while the updated anti-virus scans the PostgreSQL folder and database on your server , at worst , we have seen some client who are completely unable to login, or produce quotes because the updated virus definitions have classified critical dll or exe files as malicious content. If you suddenly have a dramatic decrease in performance in Dolphin4 check to see if your antivirus was recently updated , you may need to create an exception in the anti-virus to prevent it from scanning or removing anything in the postgreSQL folder. If this is the case , we strongly recommend that you ask for Distributor assistance. 
Here's 2  myths about PostgreSQL - and our answers to them ; 
  • "it's not supported because it's free" - this couldn't be further from the truth, there is a vibrant community of developers and volunteers that are constantly making improvements and fixing issues in all version streams of PostgreSQL. 
  • "it can't handle large data sets" - this is completely untrue. PostgreSQL was selected for the database for Dolphin specifically because of it's ability to handle high volume transactions and larger data sets - it is the perfect fit for a very busy company. 

Dolphin Customisation

Dolphin is extremely flexible and configurable. This means you can , should you wish to , pay for our Distributors to mould the software around your business in many, many different ways. 

These changes to the configuration of the software carry the risk that the copy of Dolphin you are running is slightly to significantly slower than a standard version. 

In this context , we are not referring to any changes that you can make on the front-end of the system as a supervisor. To list a few examples, we are referring to changes and configurations in your formula's, controlling which fields show up on your screens , and any additional automation to send out auto-reply emails , text messages , or drop files and documents into specific folders at certain specified events. 

For the most part, these changes should have a minor to insignificant effect on efficiency of Dolphin4. 

But it is worth noting, that if you have had several customisations made over time, in the estimating or production workflows in particular, the copy of Dolphin you are working on, will likely be slower than  a standard copy. 

It is also important to know that when you have a customised version of Dolphin, upgrades to new Dolphin releases will take longer than with standard systems. 

In summary, here are four things you can do to ensure you are getting the best possible performance from Dolphin4. 

  1. Keep up to date with the latest releases of Dolphin4. 
  2. Have the right hardware , work with your IT provider or department to keep your network maintained and your hardware up to date. 
  3. Keep up to date with the correct recommended version of PostgreSQL, and regularly check with the Distributors that they are maintaining your database settings in line with the growth of your database. 
  4. If you are considering a customisation, take into account that it may affect overall system performance slightly , and will definitely impact how fast an upgrade can be done. 

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