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Creating flamegraphs with XHProf
Jul 30, 2015 @ 10:08:27

The Platform.sh blog has a post showing you how to create flamegraphs with XHProf for your application's execution and overall performance. A "flamegraph" is just a different sort of graph stacking up the execution times for the methods and functions in your application so they look more like a "flame" than just numbers.

One of the most frequent needs a web application has is a way to diagnose and evaluate performance problems. Because Platform.sh already generates a matching new environment for each Git branch, diagnosing performance problems for new and existing code has become easier than ever to do without impacting the behavior of a production site. This post will demonstrate how to use a Platform.sh environment along with the XHProf PHP extension to do performance profiling of a Drupal application and create flamegraph images that allow for easy evaluation of performance hotspots.

While they show it at work on a Platform.sh instance, the method can be altered slightly to work with your own application with the right software installed. Their example uses the brendangregg/FlameGraph library to do the majority of the graphing work. He shows how to have the code switch on XHProf during the execution and where to put the file for later evaluation. They include the resulting directories and files created from the execution and how to view the resulting (SVG-based) graphs directly in a browser.

tagged: xhprof flameframe execution performance graph tutorial platformsh

Link: https://platform.sh/2015/07/29/flamegraphs/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Speeding up Existing Apps with a Redis Cache
Jul 28, 2015 @ 10:27:06

The SitePoint PHP blog has posted a tutorial that want to help you speed up your applications with Redis, adding in caching to help reduce the overall processing load your app has to expend.

The application in question, when executing a query, runs off to Diffbot’s API and makes it query the dataset. The subset is then returned and displayed. This can take up to 5 or so seconds, depending on the busyness of Diffbot’s servers. While the situation will undoubtedly improve as they expand their computational capacity, it would be nice if a query executed once were remembered and reused for 24 hours, seeing as the collection is only refreshed that often anyway.

Considering the fact that implementing this cache costs us literally nothing (and actually reduces costs by reducing strain on the servers), adding it in is an easy win, even if it weren’t used as often as one would hope. There is no reason not to add it – it can only benefit us.

He helps you get Redis up and running as a service on the local system and installing the Predis, the PHP library you'll use to talk with Redis for setting and getting the cached information. He includes a few code snippets showing how to send the search off to the DiffBot API, return the results and push them into the cache as serialized data with a day long timeout. He also mentions the phpiredis extension to reduce some of the overhead that could be cause by using a PHP library versus an extension.

tagged: speed performance redis cache tutorial introduction predis phpiredis

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/speeding-up-existing-apps-with-a-redis-cache/

BitExpert Blog:
Think About It: PHP/PostgreSQL Bulk Performance (Part 3)
Jul 24, 2015 @ 10:46:06

On the bitExpert blog they've continued their "Think About It" series of posts looking at optimizations that can be made to different technologies in their stack to increase performance. In this third part of the series they focus in on the changes made to help speed things up with the PostgreSQL database backend.

This article is the last of a three-part series and describes how we optimized the persistence process of bulk data in our code in combination with PostgreSQL. Make sure you covered the first article about how we tweaked PHPExcel to run faster while reading Excel and CSV files and the second article about how we optimized our data processing and reached performance improvements tweaking our code.

They work from the example code provided at the end of part two and update the "update" handling to optimize it a bit. By default it executes an update query for each record so, instead, they modified it to perform a bulk update with an "update from values" format. They could then migrate to a "save all" handler with the complete set of records to save.

tagged: performance postgresql bulk series part3 tutorial phpexcel excel csv

Link: https://blog.bitexpert.de/blog/think-about-it-php-postgresql-bulk-performance-part-3/

Digital Ocean Blog:
Getting Ready for PHP 7
Jul 16, 2015 @ 12:31:48

The Digital Ocean blog has posted a guide to help you get ready for PHP7, the next major release of the PHP language. There's a lot of new functionality and changes coming with the release along with plenty of performance and consistency improvements.

2015 has been an important year for PHP. Eleven years after its 5.0 release, a new major version is finally coming our way! PHP 7 is scheduled for release before the end of the year, bringing many new language features and an impressive performance boost. But how this will impact your current PHP codebase? What really changed? How safe is it to update? This post will answer these questions and give you a taste of what’s to come with PHP 7.

They start with a brief look at some of the overall performance improvements PHP7 will introduce and a few things to watch out for that may break with the upgrade (like deprecated features and engine exceptions). From there they get into some of the new language features:

  • New operators (spaceship, null coalesce)
  • Scalar type hinting
  • Return type hinting

They each have brief code examples showing how they'd be put to use but there's also links to other resources with more information if you need them.

tagged: introduction php7 prepare changes deprecate update performance

Link: https://www.digitalocean.com/company/blog/getting-ready-for-php-7/

BitExpert Blog:
Think About It: Loop Iteration Per
Jul 15, 2015 @ 09:30:16

On the BitExpert.com blog Florian Horn continues his "Think About It" series (part 2) looking at performance enhancements that can be made when using the PHPExcel library and in their overall data processing. In this article they build on part one and share a few more handy performance tweaks.

This article is the second of a three-part series and describes how we optimized our data processing and reached performance improvements tweaking our code. Make sure you covered the first article about how we tweaked PHPExcel to run faster while reading Excel and CSV files.

He shows how they replaced some repeated looping and generating entities with an index-cached set. This set uses the ID of the element as the index and makes it faster and easier to reference the value. This dropped their overall loop handling of the imported data by half.

tagged: phpexcel performance update tweak part2 series indexcached set

Link: https://blog.bitexpert.de/blog/think-about-it-loop-iteration-performance-part-2/

PHP 7 and script languages future: insights from lead Zend.com developer
Jul 13, 2015 @ 11:21:02

The Amasty.com site has posted an article featuring an interview with Dmitry Stogov about his background and the next major release of PHP - PHP 7.

PHP is used on 81.9% of websites all over the world and has celebrated its 20th birthday some time ago. We talked to the PHP 7 lead developer and Zend Technologies Chief Performance Engineer – Dmitry Stogov. He spoke about the newest trends in PHP development and the world of script languages.

He answers questions about:

  • How and why he started coding
  • Why he chose PHP and ended up at Zend
  • The work he's contributed to PHP and more specifically PHP7

This includes the work done on the PHPNG performance improvements for the language that was integrated into the main codebase. He talks about some of the testing and development hurdles they had to overcome and what the most important features are to an end user. They also talk some about the future of PHP, it's overall perception in programming communities and some of the features he finds best in modern PHP development. They end the post asking Dmitry about some of his own interests and any advice he can give to more junior developers.

tagged: dmitrystogoy interview php7 phpng performance background features language

Link: https://blog.amasty.com/php-7-and-script-languages-future-insights-from-lead-zend-com-developer/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Caching Hat-trick: Zend Opcache, Etags and Query Caching
Jul 13, 2015 @ 09:57:56

The SitePoint PHP blog has posted three tips on caching that can help speed up your application from the processing level up. The article shares tips on using opcode caching for faster processing, etags for web request caching and query caching on the data side.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the common caching techniques in PHP: Opcache, Expires Headers and Query Caching in MySQL. We’ll look at additional approaches in part 2.

He starts with an introduction to the request lifecycle of a typical request made to a PHP-based application, from the fetching of a file to the actual execution. This lays the groundwork for the first kind of caching: opcodes for caching execution results. He helps you get that enabled and configured and shows how to determine how much it's actually helping. Following this he talks about the "expires" headers you can send from Apache, telling the browser exactly when it needs to fetch new versions of things like CSS, image or Javascript files. Finally he touches on MySQL query caching, storing the already parsed version of a query on the server with results in a cache for faster polling on repeated requests.

tagged: caching zend opcode etags expires query caching tutorial speed performance

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/caching-hat-trick-zend-opcache-etags-and-query-caching/

Essential Macro Optimizations to Improve PHP Performance
Jul 09, 2015 @ 10:19:16

The Tideways.io blog has posted a set of four macro-optimizations you can do to help improve the overall performance of your application. Note the "macro" here, not "micro", so these are larger, more platform-level changes.

This blog post describes four macro-optimizations for PHP applications that are essential to consider before investigating other possible optimizations. [...] While its fun chasing after small micro optimizations, often it is debatable if the developer time is well spent. After all I/O is the more important bottleneck in almost every application. [...] But its much more efficient to fix the big issues first. The changes I present in this post can be done quickly and their gains can be massive.

The four suggestions he makes cover different areas of a standard application:

  • Upgrade PHP to a recent version
  • Use accelerator such as APC or OPCache
  • Close Session for Writes
  • Don't run XDebug in Production

Each tip comes with a bit of background on why it's a good idea and some have links to other resources supporting the change or update proposed.

tagged: macrooptimization performance application version opcode cache session write xdebug

Link: https://tideways.io/profiler/blog/essential-macro-optimizations-to-improve-php-performance

BitExpert Blog:
Think About It: PHPExcel Performance Tweaks (Part 1)
Jul 07, 2015 @ 10:34:21

Florian Horn has posted the first part of a series of performance tweaks for using PHPExcel to work with Excel spreadsheets and CSV data.

A few weeks back I covered a small article about a CSV-Tool optimized for memory usage and additionally tweaking performance. Our performance optimization sprint contained the improvement of read file data, processing and persist it. While the file data is relatively small referred to the file size, the amount of data sets can vary between 5.000 and more then 40.000 entities on an average, but may be a lot more in some cases.

This article is the first of a three-part series and describes how we tweaked PHPExcel to run faster while reading Excel and CSV files.

In this first part of the series he goes through three different tips to improve some of the basic performance:

  • Cache Cell Index in Memory
  • Iterators and GC Optimization
  • Use Custom Read Filters

You can find out more about the PHPExcel library on the project's main page.

tagged: phpexcel performance tweak series part1 cache iterators filter

Link: https://blog.bitexpert.de/blog/think-about-it-phpexcel-performance-tweaks-part-1/

Kévin Dunglas:
Using PSR-7 in Symfony
Jun 24, 2015 @ 12:50:56

With the recent acceptance of the PSR-7 HTTP standard by the PHP-FIG, there's been a lot of articles about using it in various PHP frameworks. In this new post Kevin Douglas looks at the use of it in Symfony, how it relates to the HttpFoundation component and when it will be included in the framework itself.

Back in 2011, Symfony 2 introduced the HttpFoundation component, a PHP library representing HTTP messages with an object oriented API. HttpFoundation is a key in the success of the HTTP-centric approach of Symfony, and it definitely inspirited the PSR-7 specification. However, PSR-7 and HttpFoundation differ fundamentally in two aspects: PSR-7 messages are immutable, mutability is in the DNA of HttpFoundation and in PSR-7, almost everything is stream.

Because of immutability it is very hard to make HttpFoundation embracing PSR-7 without a huge backward compatibility break impacting thousands of existing applications and bundles.

Work was almost immediately started to support the PSR-7 specification in Symfony, however. As a result support will be ready to be included in Symfony 2.7 but, as the rest of the post shows, it can be introduced in versions 2.3 or greater through a "HTTP message bridge" library. He shows how to get this installed in your Symfony application instance and how to use it in your controllers to interact with Requests and Responses. He does point out, though, that while this can bring your release up to PSR-7 status it comes with some overhead that may not be worth it if you're concerned about performance.

tagged: psr7 symfony bridge httpfoundation performance library

Link: http://dunglas.fr/2015/06/using-psr-7-in-symfony/