An in-Depth Walkthrough of Supercharging Apps with Blackfire
No one hates robust and scalable applications, especially when the database is growing quickly, and millions of requests need to be served on a daily basis. Profiling is a form of program analysis to measure the time and resources consumed by the program. With profiling, we can spot the performance bottlenecks in the code and do something about them. There is a variety of profiling tools out there, each taking a different approach.
There are two main types of profiling methods: Sampling and Instrumentation.
In the sampling approach, the profiler takes samples of the call stack or the Memory at certain intervals, and updates its statistics. This method has a lesser effect on performance because it doesn’t modify the code at all. However, sampling has its overhead, which can be tuned by increasing the sampling frequency.
In the instrumentation approach, profiling instructions are inserted into the code either by the programmer or automatically by the profiler (at bytecode level). This approach has a significant performance impact on the application but provides precise details of what exactly is happening in the code at runtime.
Blackfire.io is the new generation of web profilers, which takes the automatic instrumentation approach, but without imposing a performance impact on our application. It’s been developed by Sensio Labs, the team behind the Symfony Framework.
What makes Blackfire special is that it helps us continuously test our application’s performance without adding a single line of code.
We can profile any PHP script using its fancy Google Chrome extension, or its command line tool.
Blackfire is easy to install as it is supported by many cloud server providers and VM boxes, including Homestead. In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how we can use Blackfire to build faster applications. As usual, we’ll use Homestead Improved to set up our development environment.
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