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Symfony Blog:
Improving the Symfony Release Process
Dec 11, 2015 @ 10:49:10

On the Symfony blog there's a new post from Javier Eguiluz talking about improvements to the Symfony release process that will be starting with the 3.0.0 stable release (already release so already in place).

The Symfony Release Process is arguably one of the best selling points of the Symfony project. Thanks to our predictable and transparent process, companies can plan years in ahead their Symfony integration.

The recent launch of Symfony 2.8, which will be the last minor version of the 2.x branch, made us think about further tweaks in the release process. That's why during his past SymfonyCon Paris 2015 keynote, Fabien Potencier announced the new Symfony release process.

The main changes for the process are around how many minor versions will be published, standard vs long term support status of these releases and the timing of major/minor releases. With this schedule in place, it's projected that Symfony 4 will be released in November of 2017.

tagged: symfony release process improvement schedule minor major version

Link: http://symfony.com/blog/improving-the-symfony-release-process

Lakion Blog:
How we sped up Sylius' Behat suite with Blackfire
Dec 01, 2015 @ 12:08:57

On the Lakion blog there's a recent post sharing how they used the Blackfire.io profiling service to [speed up their application's tests] (Behat)(http://lakion.com/blog/how-did-we-speed-up-sylius-behat-suite-with-blackfire) and find the "pain points" to fix.

Feedback time is one of the most crucial factors during development and the red - green - refactor cycle. In case of Sylius, the full build used to take two and a half hour, including 55 minutes for only PHP 5.6 jobs. Waiting so long for feedback is not an option for a project of this size and with so many active contributors. As much as I am Xdebug fan, I have never really used it for profiling - the snapshots generation was slowing down the profiled script significantly and resulted in monstrous files, which weren't easy to read.

Half a year after I have first heard of blackfire.io I decided to give it a try. It resulted in a series of pull requests that speeds up Sylius test suites 6 times and reduces memory usage to one tenth.

They go through some of the major bottlenecks that the service helped them locate including:

  • an issue with the login process and their role evaluation handling
  • problems with time spent doing router initialization
  • Doctrine performance issues running it without a class metadata cache

For each item they describe what the service was reporting and how they corrected it in the application. Most of the changes were relatively small, fortunately. They also link to the results from before and after the changes so you can see the difference. As their environment is Symfony-based they end the post with some other helpful Symfony tips to getting the most out of your application and enhancing its performance in a few simple ways.

tagged: blackfireio behat test suite performance improvement profiling

Link: http://lakion.com/blog/how-did-we-speed-up-sylius-behat-suite-with-blackfire

HHVM Blog:
Improving Arrays in Hack
Nov 03, 2015 @ 11:46:14

On the HHVM blog there's a post talking about some of the updates they've made with array handling in Hack to help make it more efficient and overcoming some of the challenges in how they're being used.

Arrays are the ubiquitous data structure in PHP, used to represent everything from lists, associated lists, sets, tuples, or even a bag of data. This flexibility itself makes it challenging for Hack to understand how an array will be used. [...] If this was the only problem with PHP arrays, then the solution would be “simple”; make the type checker smarter (something we are working on). However there are a number of other semantic details around arrays that are nearly impossible to analyze statically.

They talk about some of the issues a bit more specifically including:

  • indexing of non-existent keys
  • key coercion
  • arrays containing references

They also talk about some of the legitimate use cases for arrays over the collections Hack offers, mostly do to with the values they could contain. The post ends with links to some of the other future improvements to the array handling in Hack and a look further out and their vision of replacing PHP arrays with Hack arrays and moving collections to a runtime library.

tagged: hhvm hack array improvement problem values collections

Link: http://hhvm.com/blog/10649/improving-arrays-in-hack

Julien Pauli:
Huge Page usage in PHP 7
Oct 30, 2015 @ 12:16:48

In this post to his site Julien Pauli looks at the concept of "huge pages" and how it relates to some of the behind the scenes work done in PHP 7 to improve memory usage.

Memory paging is a way Operating Systems manage userland process memory. Each process memory access is virtual, and the OS together with the hardware MMU must translate that address into a physical address used to access the data in main memory (RAM).

Paging memory is dividing memory in chunks of fixed size, called pages. [...] Why use huge pages? The concept is easy. If we make the OS Kernel use bigger page sizes, that means that more data can be accessed into one single page. That also means that we'll suffer from less TLB miss, once the page translation is stored into the TLB, because one translation will now be valid for more data.

He briefly covers how some updated memory handling and opcode restructuring helps PHP 7 perform even better, especially when it comes to the OPCache handling. He talks about the changes made in the extension specifically to support the "huge pages" idea, complete with code examples (in C) of how this was accomplished.

tagged: huge page php7 memory improvement performance opcache

Link: http://jpauli.github.io/2015/10/28/huge-page.html

Zend Developer Zone:
PHP 7 Quick Overview
Sep 21, 2015 @ 13:51:26

On the Zend Developer Zone they've posted an article talking about the upcoming major version of PHP, PHP 7, and what you can expect from it. It's a brief overview of the new features and functionality included in this big update.

PHP7 is around the corner. According to the wiki time table if everything goes well, it is expected to be released in November 2015. Many of us are excited to learn the language level features and it’s performance.

The article touches on the highlights of:

  • Performance boosts
  • Null Coalesce Operator
  • Scalar Type Hints
  • Weak type mode
  • Strict mode
  • Handling Exceptions
  • Return Type Declaration
  • Reserve More Types in PHP 7
  • Timezone warning

There's a lot of new things coming, so check out this guide for a quick overview and to get up to speed before it's here.

tagged: php7 overview introduction list feature improvement

Link: http://devzone.zend.com/6656/php-7-quick-overview/

Andrew Smith:
Why is Slim 3 not so slim anymore
Aug 03, 2015 @ 09:54:13

In this post to is site Andrew Smith refutes the misconception that version three (v3) of the Slim PHP microframework is "not so slim" anymore with some of the additions to this latest version, increasing it's size and complexity.

There is a common misconception that Slim 3 has plenty of files and is no longer slim. Slim 3 does indeed contain more files than Slim 2 and this has been the result of being more flexible and moving away from the Not Invented Here (NIH) philosophy.

Installing Slim 3 through composer will install all its dependencies, when doing a PHP file count you will notice we have doubled in file count. This is a given with the amount of flexibility we now have. Most developers might not see any benefit in this as they will likely just work with what is provided, but if at any point you should hit a limitation in any working part of the framework, you can easily swap it out without a fuss.

He includes the command to install this latest version via Composer and how to count the number of files with a single command. He points out that some people that are reporting 1000+ PHP files being installed with the framework are probably getting the development packages as well and not just the release. He points out that "Slim 3 is still slim, we just added more flexibility in it." He ends the post with a thanks to Josh Lockhart and a few others who have made large contributions to the project and have helped make it what it is.

tagged: slimframework version slim3 slim2 size improvement flexibility

Link: http://thoughts.silentworks.co.uk/why-is-slim3-not-so-slim-anymore/

HHVM Blog:
Lockdown Results and HHVM Performance
Jun 10, 2015 @ 09:02:59

The HHVM blog has a new post today sharing the results of their first open source lockdown. During this time they worked to improve not only HHVM itself but how well it supports other open source projects using it as a platform.

The HHVM team has concluded its first ever open source performance lockdown, and we’re very excited to share the results with you. During our two week lockdown, we’ve made strides optimizing builtin functions, dynamic properties, string concatenation, and the file cache. In addition to improving HHVM, we also looked for places in the open source frameworks where we could contribute patches that would benefit all engines. Our efforts centered around maximizing requests per second (RPS) with WordPress, Drupal 7, and MediaWiki, using our oss-performance benchmarking tool.

They share some of the benchmark improvements made by the updates during the session including performance boosts for WordPress & MediaWiki. They also talk about the community involvement during the event and updates made to their own tooling too. The post then spends some time talking about their methodology on development and testing during the lockdown and how the results compare pre- and post-lockdown. The remainder of the post looks at some more specific issues and covers a few technical notes about software used and how the results were reported.

tagged: hhvm lockdown opensource benchmark improvement wordpress drupal mediawiki results

Link: http://hhvm.com/blog/9293/lockdown-results-and-hhvm-performance

Derick Rethans:
Xdebug 2.3: Improvements to Tracing
Mar 31, 2015 @ 11:15:33

Derick Rethans has posted a new article in his series highlighting some of the changes in the latest release of Xdebug (v2.3). In this new post he talks about some of the improvements in the trace file functionality.

Trace files are a way to document every function call, and if you enable it, variable assignment and function's return values — including when these functions were called, and how much memory PHP was using at the moment of function entry (and exit). Xdebug 2.3 adds a new type of parameter rendering for stack traces and function traces through the xdebug.collect_params setting.

This new setting allows much more information to be reported back in the trace results, adding on a serialized version of the value of variables. He also shows the output results (human-readable) that shows the memory usage and time index for the execution. He also shows the new handling to include return values in the trace output using the "xdebug.trace_format" handling.

tagged: tracing improvement xdebug release series part5 output

Link: http://derickrethans.nl/xdebug-2.3-tracing-improvements.html

Derick Rethans:
Xdebug 2.3: Improvements to Debugging
Mar 25, 2015 @ 09:13:34

In the latest in his series covering some of the improvements in the latest Xdebug release, Derick Rethans has posted this new article detailing some of the performance enhancements related to remote debugging that come with this new version.

This is the fourth article in a series about new features in Xdebug 2.3, which was first released on February 22nd. In this article we are looking at the improvements towards "remote" debugging.

The updates include showing the values of user-defined constants, being able to set an exception breakpoint on all exceptions and additional features around debugging the exceptions themselves. The output now includes the exception's error code and which exception the flow was broken on (though in his example of PHPStorm, the IDE won't report that information back). The last change he mentions is a change that reverts the output to a log if it can't write to a socket (usually SELinux related).

tagged: xdebug performance improvement remote debugging version release

Link: http://derickrethans.nl/xdebug-2.3-debugging-improvements.html

Derick Rethans:
Xdebug 2.3: Moar var_dump()
Feb 27, 2015 @ 09:58:40

Derick Rethans has a new post to his site starting a series of posts about the new features of Xdebug 2.3. In this new post he talks about an improvement that's been made to the output provided by var_dump with more information than before.

One of the new features relates to one of the first things that I added in the original Xdebug: making the var_dump() output "pretty". Xdebug replaces PHP's standard var_dump() function with its own version, as long as the xdebug.overload_var_dump setting is not set to 0. [...] Xdebug 2.3 enhances the overloading of var_dump() with the inclusion of the file name and line number where var_dump() is called at. This has been a long standing feature request.

He provides a few sample screenshots comparing the old and new output formats and mentions another handy setting, xdebug.file_link_format, that makes the resulting filename a link in a browser and lets you customize the format.

tagged: xdebug vardump overload file path information output improvement release

Link: http://derickrethans.nl/xdebug-2.3-overload-vardump.html