Test, Tune, Tweak, Hack, Repeat: Industrial-strength Performance and Scalability

Time slot: 
March 10th, 3:45 PM - 4:45 PM
Sheraton 2 & 3

Yeah, sure... your site is slow. But why? How do you find out? And what are you going to do about it when you do find out?

In this session the development team at ConsumerSearch.com (one of the largest Drupal sites out there) discusses performance and scalability issues we've faced and how we've addressed them. We'll be sharing how we tested, tuned, tweaked, and hacked Drupal and our environment to squeeze as much performance out of it as we could.

Performance is a multifaceted problem, and we've approached it from multiple angles. We will begin by introducing our overarching strategy for performance, using our "test, tune, tweak, hack, repeat" formula. Then we will dive into more detail.

Theresa will share how we tackled front-end performance tuning, where our simple assumptions about what is "fast" were quickly overturned by the emerging of a complex story involving not just images, CSS, JavaScript, and HTML, but caching, browser behavior and more. Hear how ConsumerSearch used sprites, CSS3, JavaScript, and edge caching to reduce costly network connections, cut terabytes from our bandwidth consumption, and improve our theme's architecture. But even this silver lining had a touch of grey.

Matt will talk about how ConsumerSearch used numerous performance tools from Xdebug to Tracelytics to identify bottlenecks. He will share how ConsumerSearch tuned their caching architecture, tweaked their code base, and ultimately made a few strategic core hacks to boost performance. Finally, hear how we have revised our process to better monitor site stability and performance, addressing new issues as they arise.

Video on archive.org.

Intended audience: 

This session is geared toward intermediate developers and site administrators. We'll assume familiarity with the Drupal architecture and with PHP and the typical web server stack.

Questions answered by this session
Question 1: 
How do you identify the cause(s) of your performance trouble?
Question 2: 
What tools can help me figure out what my site is doing and why it's slow?
Question 3: 
Can Drupal really scale to handle millions of hits a day?
Question 4: 
When is it okay to hack core? (No, the answer's not "never".)
Question 5: 
How do you effectively refactor Drupal code?
Test, Tune, Tweak, Hack, Repeat: Industrial-strength Performance and Scalability has been selected and voting is closed.

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