Drupal Nights - High Performance Drupal

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I had a great time at BioRAFT Drupal Nights, on January 16th, 2014. Originally Chris Wells (cwells) was scheduled to speak, unfortunately he was down with the flu. Michelle Lauer (Miche) put an awesome presentation together on really short notice. With help from Diliny Corlesquet (Dcor) there was plenty to absorb intellectually along with the delicious Middle Eastern food. I love spontaneity, so it was fun to hop over to BioRAFT in Cambridge, MA, to be a member of a panel of Senior Drupal Developers.

I joined Seth Cohn, Patrick Corbett, Michelle Lauer and Erik Peterson to present some viable solutions to performance issues in Drupal.
Several slides covered the topic - Drupal High Performance and a lively discussion ensued. The panel members delved into some of the top issues with Drupal performance under several different conditions. The discussion was based on the book written by Jeff Shelton, Naryan Newton, and Nathaniel Catchpole - High Performance Drupal - O'Reilly - http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920012269.do .

The room at BioRAFT was comfortably full with just the right amount of people to have an informal Q and A, and to directly address some concerns that developers were actually working on. Lurking in the back I spotted some of the top developers in the Drupal community (scor, mlncn, kay_v just to name a few) that were not on the panel, but they did had a lot of experience to speak from during Q and A.

The video posted at the bottom is packt with great information and techniques - Miche even shared some code snippets that will get you going if you seek custom performance enhancements.

One of the discussions was around tools that can be used to gauge performance or tweak it.

  • Drupals internal syslog
  • watchdog - dblog
  • Acquia has some tools
  • Google Analytics

I also found an online test site: http://drupalsitereview.com

We also talked a lot about caching and the several options that exist to deal with cache on a Drupal site.
There are options to cache content for anonymous users and there are solutions and modules for more robust sites with high traffic.

PHP 5.5 offers a good caching solution with integrated opcode caching. They are a performance enhancement and extension for PHP. Some sites have shown a 3x performance boost by using opcode caching. Opcode caching presents no side-effects beyond extra memory usage and should always be used in production environments. Below are a couple of the suggestions we discussed that are listed in the Modules listed on Drupal.org:

Boost
a good solution for sites that have a lot of content for anonymous users. https://drupal.org/project/boost
Varnish
a good choice for sites with content for members https://drupal.org/project/varnish
Others
  • Memcache
  • Redis
  • File Cache

The panel agreed that there are many things to consider when seeking to improve the sites performance:

  • Hosting
  • Custom Code
  • Cache
  • Memory Limits
  • Traffic
  • Module Compatibility
  • CSS and JS Aggregation

A few more are discussed in the video below...

Sending out Be Wells to cwells! We look forward to a future presentation, and we are also pleased that on such short notice it did not seem too hard to gather a panel of several senior Drupal developers to discuss High Performance Drupal. See the whole discussion on YouTube

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