Sydney Drupal Meetup, March 2013

My first Drupal meetup since moving to Sydney. Posted by Thomas Sutton on March 21, 2013

I attended my first meetup with the Sydney Drupal group tonight and saw a couple of interesting talks:

  1. Chris Harrop from Acquia introduced their devcloud platform and some of the other tools and services they offer.

  2. Murray Woodman presented some performance measurements of node loading when using Entitycache and other techniques.

  3. Justin Randall gave a pretty thorough introduction to using XHProf to detect and identify performance problems and regressions.


Chris’ talk about Acquia’s offerings was very short and quite high level. I was interested to see their “checklist-style” Drupal evaluation and testing tool as I’d was looking at a similar sort of run-the-tests-in-this-checklist tool yesterday.

Also: I got a code for a free dev environment on their cloud service.

Node Weight

The bulk of Murray’s talk was to present benchmarks of several approaches to improving entity_load performance in Drupal sites.

He compared:

  1. Setting innodb_buffer_pool_size appropriately to your machine and workload.

  2. Enabling the MySQL query cache.

  3. Installing the Entitycache module.

  4. Using APC to store cached objects.

  5. Several combinations of the above.

The biggest and quickest win was installing entitycache (which resulted in an “80%” performance improvement), with the other techniques yeilding smaller improvements.


Justin began his presentation with a quote:

Don’t bring logic to a data fight.

Analysing system performance and identifying performance problems can be complex and real data on specific cases is more useful and more reliable than logic. “Don’t trust your gut, use science.”

After a bit of good advice about performance – it’s a process not a goal; test, and fix, client and network issues first – Justin dug into using XHProf to record and analyse performance profiles of Drupal pages.

The XHProf extension has so small an impact on performance that you can run it on production servers ready and waiting for a performance problem to profile (which degrades performance by around “<10%”).

Along with the XHProf extension are several tools to process and analyse the recorded profiles:

A good tip, which hadn’t occured to me, was to use the auto_prepend_file feature in PHP to enable XHProf. This is application agnostic, does not require changes to the application code, and ensures that your profiles include the whole application.

The idea of building XHProf into my production environments, with a prepend file configured and waiting to enable profiling (or automatically profiling, say, 1% of requests) is intriguing.


So this was a pretty good introduction to the Drupal community in Sydney, and it was nice to see how other groups run meetups (though I gather there have been some recent changes here).

This post was published on March 21, 2013 and last modified on December 4, 2018. It is tagged with: event, meetup, drupal, sydney, acquia, performance, profiling, xhprof, php.