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TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

Benchmarking requestAction

Now there has been a lot of discussion in the past few months about requestAction() and how it can very easily create a negative impact on your application. In fact I even wrote such an article myself. However, its high time that someone did the number crunching to really see if requestAction() is actually as slow as we all seem to think it is. So onto the testing method and the results.

Testing method

To test this theory I used a small CakePHP application and the SVN head (revision 8064) of CakePHP. I used a simple sample application with 2 controllers and 2 models. My model method directly returned the results without touching the database, so that database retrieval time and model processing would not be a factor in these tests. As I was only interested in the performance implications inherent in requestAction() itself, I wanted to remove the variance created by connecting to a database. I set debug = 0, and used basic file caching. After warming up the cake core caches, I tested 4 different controller actions.

  • Using Relations / ClassRegistry::init() - The method I originally proposed, and often touted as the 'best' solution to requestAction()
  • Using RequestAction with a string URL
  • Using RequestAction with and Array URL
  • Using a cached RequestAction - This more accurately simulates how we use requestAction at CakeDC.

Benchmarks were generated with Siege I used 10 concurrent users with 110 reps each. My local development web-server is running Apache 2.2/PHP 5.2.6 o n a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo iMac with 2GB of ram. I ran each test 3 times and took the best result of each.

Using model relations / ClassRegistry::init()

First up was my originally proposed solution of using model relations to access the correct information. I used the following command and got the following results.

siege -b http://localhost/benchmark/posts/using_relations

Transactions:		        1100 hits
Availability:		      100.00 %
Elapsed time:		       63.21 secs
Data transferred:	        1.50 MB
Response time:		        0.55 secs
Transaction rate:	       17.40 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.02 MB/sec
Concurrency:		        9.60
Successful transactions:        1100
Failed transactions:	           0
Longest transaction:	        1.76
Shortest transaction:	        0.10


Using RequestAction with a string URL

Up next was using request action with a string url. String URL's are often the slower way to perform a requestAction as parsing the URL string is one of the more expensive operations in request dispatching. I used the following command and the best results were.

siege -b http://localhost/benchmark/posts/using_requestaction

Transactions:		        1100 hits
Availability:		      100.00 %
Elapsed time:		       64.60 secs
Data transferred:	        1.51 MB
Response time:		        0.57 secs
Transaction rate:	       17.03 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.02 MB/sec
Concurrency:		        9.72
Successful transactions:        1100
Failed transactions:	           0
Longest transaction:	        1.76
Shortest transaction:	        0.11


RequestAction with an Array URL

Up next is requestAction() witn an array url. Using an array URL is supposed to expedite the dispatching process as it bypasses much of the parameter parsing done by Router. This theory turned out to be true, as Array URL's clocked in marginally faster than their string counterparts.

siege -b http://localhost/benchmark/posts/using_requestaction_array

Transactions:		        1100 hits
Availability:		      100.00 %
Elapsed time:		       64.08 secs
Data transferred:	        1.53 MB
Response time:		        0.57 secs
Transaction rate:	       17.17 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.02 MB/sec
Concurrency:		        9.78
Successful transactions:        1100
Failed transactions:	           0
Longest transaction:	        1.66
Shortest transaction:	        0.11

RequestAction using Array URL's and Caching

In my mind this was going to be the most performant requestAction option, due to the cached nature. The results were as expected with this method clocking to be only slightly behind the relation call. It is important to note as well, that this test does not reflect the time savings earned from not having to make an additional query/ round of result parsing. In a real world situation, the savings of using a cached element would be magnified by the cost of the query.

siege -b http://localhost/benchmark/posts/using_cached_requestaction

Transactions:		        1100 hits
Availability:		      100.00 %
Elapsed time:		       63.60 secs
Data transferred:	        1.52 MB
Response time:		        0.56 secs
Transaction rate:	       17.30 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.02 MB/sec
Concurrency:		        9.62
Successful transactions:        1100
Failed transactions:	           0
Longest transaction:	        1.77
Shortest transaction:	        0.09

Results Summary

In case you quickly scanned through the full results here is a summary of what happened.

Method Requests per second (mean) Total time taken (seconds)
Using relations/ClassRegistry::init() 17.40 63.21
Using requestAction and string urls 17.03 64.60
Using requestAction and array urls 17.17 64.08
Using cached requestaction 17.30 63.60

In closing requestAction() can be slower than a direct method call. There are some benefits to using requestAction though.

  • You have the opportunity to reduce the number of repeated lines of code by putting the requestAction inside the element. In doing so, you create an encapsulated element, that can be included anywhere without having to worry about having the correct method calls in your controller.
  • You can more easily cache the element. By using requestAction in conjunction with element caching you have an easy to use, simple to implement caching. Getting the same results with model method calls in your controller requires additional caching logic in your models.
  • The potential for increased performance. As we saw in the benchmarks above, a cached element performed almost as fast as the direct method call. This margin will grow when a database query is added into the mix.

Now am I retracting my previous stance on requestAction? No, I still feel that there are many situations where requestAction is the incorrect solution and signals poor application design. However, when the need arises it is good to know that requestAction can be as fast or faster than other approaches when implemented properly.

 

Latest articles

CakePHP 4 - First Look

Last december, the CakePHP team announced the immediate availability of 4.0.0. This release begins a new chapter for CakePHP, as 4.0 is now API stable. With this release, Cake 3.x moves into maintenance mode, while 2.x moves into security release mode. The promise of the version is: cleaner, faster and still tasty as usual. I had the opportunity to bake a new application from scratch and I will give my feedback about my process.  

Skeleton Design

The new version refreshes the skeleton design of the application. Now we have 2 new folders on root:
  • Templates

The templates folder has presentational files placed here: elements, error pages, layouts, and view template files. Pay attention for subfolders: 
  • Core templates are lowercase: cell, element, email, layout
  • App templates still uppercase: Error, Pages
  • Resources

The resources folder has subfolders for various types of resource files.  The locales* sub folder stores string files for internationalization.   If you are familiar with i18n, you will see the difference:
  • src/Locale/pt_BR/default.po (3.x)
  • resources/locales/pt_BR/default.po (4.x)
  Another important change was the .ctp files. They are moved for .php. CakePHP template files have a default extension of .php now. We have a new config/app_local.php file, which contains the configuration data that varies between environments and should be managed by configuration management, or your deployment tooling.  

PHP Strict Type Mode

In PHP the declare (strict_types = 1); directive enables strict mode. In strict mode, only a variable of exact type of the “type declaration” will be accepted, or a TypeError will be thrown. The only exception to this rule is that an integer may be given to a function expecting a float. This is a feature from PHP 7 - which we strongly recommended. All codebase from the skeleton and files generated by bake will include the function.  

Entities

The preferred way of getting new entities is using the newEmptyEntity() method: $product = $this->Products->newEmptyEntity();  

Authentication

After 10 years baking, that's a really big change for me. I’m not usually use plugins for authentication, I really like the Auth Component. I think many bakers would agree, as I remember on the first international meetup, the co-host shared the same opinion.   The Auth Component is deprecated, so it's better move on and save the good memories. The new way for implementing Authentication is more verbose. It requires a few steps, I don’t will detail that,  because you can easily check on book:
  • Install Authentication Plugin
  • Load the Plugin
  • Apply the Middleware
  • Load the Component
  My first look is like I said,  too verbose, for me anyway. We need to write a lot of code. Also it is not included on the skeleton of CakePHP applications, you need include by your own. https://book.cakephp.org/authentication/2/en/index.html  

HTTPS Enforcer Middleware

Contrary to the Authentication, I was really surprised how easy it was to force my Application to use HTTPS. If you are familiar with CakePHP, you will use the Security Component for that: class AppController extends Controller {      public function initialize()    {        parent::initialize();        $this->loadComponent('Security', [            'blackHoleCallback' => 'forceSSL',        ]);    }      public function beforeFilter(Event $event)    {        if (!Configure::read('debug')) {            $this->Security->requireSecure();        }    }      public function forceSSL()    {        return $this->redirect(            'https://' .            env('SERVER_NAME') .            Router::url($this->request->getRequestTarget())        );    }   }
  The implementation on version 4 is less verbose and easy, kudos for the new version:    public function middleware(MiddlewareQueue $middlewareQueue)    {        $middlewareQueue            ->add(new HttpsEnforcerMiddleware([                'redirect' => true,                'statusCode' => 302,                'disableOnDebug' => true,            ]));          return $middlewareQueue;    }   What I know is a drop, what I don’t know is an ocean. The new version is here to stay, and this article it's a just one overview of basic usage of the new version. * Version 4.1.0 is released already with more improvements and features.  

Links 

[1] Book https://book.cakephp.org/4/en/contents.html [2] Migration Guide https://book.cakephp.org/4/en/appendices/migration-guides.html  

CakeDC API plugin - Authentication and Authorization

This article covers new changes for CakePHP 4 version of plugin. So it covers versions starting from 8.x (8.0) and later.  

Permissions system. RBAC

By default, the plugin uses CakeDC Users and CakeDC Auth plugins for authentication. For RBAC it uses the same style as defined in the Auth plugin RBAC system with minor changes required for the API plugin. First, let's consider the case when we want public api without any authorization. In this case the most simple way would be is to define in config/api_permissions.php next rule   return [     'CakeDC/Auth.api_permissions' => [         [             'role' => '*',             'service' => '*',             'action' => '*',             'method' => '*',             'bypassAuth' => true,         ],      ], ];   Now, consider the case we want to use users plugin authentication. Since Api is supposed to be used from another domain, we should allow all requests with OPTIONS type. To do this we should add this rule as first on in config/api_permissions.php       [         'role' => '*',         'service' => '*',         'action' => '*',         'method' => 'OPTIONS',         'bypassAuth' => true,     ],    Here, method define OPTIONS and bypassAuth means that such actions should work for any users, including not authenticated. Now we should allow Auth service methods       [         'role' => '*',         'service' => '*',         'action' => ['login', 'jwt_login', 'register', 'jwt_refresh',],         'method' => ['POST'],         'bypassAuth' => true,     ],    All other services/actions should be declared in api_permissions file to define what user roles are allowed to access them. Imagine we want to allow the admin role to access the add/edit/delete posts and make index and view public. We can do it based on method or based on action names.       [         'role' => 'admin',         'service' => 'posts',         'action' => '*',         'method' => ['POST', 'PUT', 'DELETE'],     ],      [         'role' => 'admin',         'service' => 'posts',         'action' => ['index', 'view'],         'method' => '*',         'bypassAuth' => true,     ],   

 Routers and Middlewares

Starting from the 8.x version, API Plugin uses router middlewares. This gives great abilities to configure the plugin. So now it is possible to have separate authentication and authorization configuration for website and for api. Also, It is possible to have more then one api prefix, and as result provide more then single api for website with different configuration. Let’s take a look on the default configuration for middlewares   'Middleware' => [     'authentication' => [         'class' => AuthenticationMiddleware::class,         'request' => ApiInitializer::class,         'method' => 'getAuthenticationService',     ],     'bodyParser' => [         'class' => BodyParserMiddleware::class,     ],     'apiParser' => [         'class' => ParseApiRequestMiddleware::class,     ],     'apiAuthorize' => [         'class' => AuthorizationMiddleware::class,         'request' => ApiInitializer::class,         'params' => [             'unauthorizedHandler' => 'CakeDC/Api.ApiException',         ],     ],     'apiAuthorizeRequest' => [         'class' => RequestAuthorizationMiddleware::class,     ],     'apiProcessor' => [         'class' => ProcessApiRequestMiddleware::class,     ], ],   First we see the order of middlewares that proceed api request. It passes through AuthenticationMiddleware, AuthorizationMiddleware, and RequestAuthorizationMiddleware to perform generic auth tasks. It passes through BodyParserMiddleware to unpack the json request. And finally ParseApiRequestMiddleware does initial service analysis and ProcessApiRequestMiddleware performs the request. Also we can note CakeDC\Api\ApiInitializer class used to define Authentication and Authorization configuration. It can be redefined in the application layer to provide needed Identifiers and  Authenticators.  

 Jwt authentication - Refreshing tokens

New plugin feature is embedded jwt_login action which allows the user to get access_token and refresh_token included into the login response. Tokens should be passed in the Authorization header with bearer prefix. Access token is supposed to be used as default token and refresh token needed to get a new access token when it's expired. So for refreshing provided additional jwt_refresh action which should be used in this case.  

 Configuration

Configuration should be defined on application level in config/api.php. Need to note that it is important to enable this file to load by the Api plugin. It could be done in config/bootstrap_app.php using global configuration: Configure::write('Api.config', ['api']);       'Api' => [          ...                  'Jwt' => [             'enabled' => true,             'AccessToken' => [                 'lifetime' => 600,                 'secret' => 'accesssecret',             ],             'RefreshToken' => [                 'lifetime' => 2 * WEEK,                 'secret' => 'refreshsecret',             ],         ],    Hopefully, this was helpful. Our team is always working on adding new features and plugins. You can check out more available plugins HERE.

CakePHP Meetup: Unit Test Fixtures, Queue Plugin, PPM Bridge

Developers are used to living in a virtual world, so adjusting has been easier than expected. Recently, we’ve been holding virtual meetups, and we are so happy with the feedback. Digital training sessions allow bakers from all over the world to come together and enjoy. Our plan is to host one each month, and coordinate time zones so that everyone gets a chance to attend. Our latest one was based around a good time for our Japanese community.  If you missed the meetup, no problem. We always post the recording for playback, and I’ll even give you a quick rundown of the topics covered. Let’s jump in:

CakePHP Fixture Factory Plugin

by Juan Pablo Ramirez CakePHP Fixture Factory Plugin https://github.com/pakacuda/cakephp-fixture-factories  helps to improve the way fixtures are generated, when having a big database writing fixtures can get so complicated. This plugin provides Fixture Factories in replacement of the fixtures found out of the box in CakePHP.
Generating fixtures can be done in a few code lines reducing the effort of writing and maintaining tests. There are some other plugins to manage fixtures: 

CakePHP Queue Plugin

By Mark Scherer @dereuromark CakePHP Queue Plugin https://github.com/dereuromark/cakephp-queue is a simple Queue solution, it can be used for small applications and it’s a good one to get started with Job Queues, having something easy to maintain at the beginning is a good starting point.
Queues are a good option for functionalities like: image processing, email sending, PDF generation; to improve the response-time for heavy-processing tasks. For more robust solutions can be used:
  • CakePHP Queuesadilla  https://github.com/josegonzalez/cakephp-queuesadilla This plugin is a simple wrapper around the Queuesadilla queuing library, providing tighter integration with the CakePHP framework. We have used this plugin in CakeDC in several projects, we also had to build  a Mongo Engine for a specific client.

CakePHP PHP PM Bridge

By Jorge Gonzalez @steinkel CakePHP Bridge https://github.com/CakeDC/cakephp-phppm  to use with PHP-PM project.
PPM is a process manager, supercharger and load balancer for modern PHP applications. PHP PM It's based on ReactPHP, the approach of this is to kill the expensive bootstrap of PHP (declaring symbols, loading/parsing files) and the bootstrap of feature-rich frameworks.
It’s a good option If you want to significantly improve the responsiveness of an application that could have spikes. PM works as PHP FPM, it’s a replacement for it.  Below some benchmark:  50 Concurrent threads in 10 seconds
  • FPM 83 transactions per second, Failed 0,  Concurrency 6.58.
  • PPM 90.30 transactions per second, Failed 0, Concurrency 3.86.
200 Concurrent threads in 10 seconds
  • FPM 116,49 transactions per second, Failed 142,  Concurrency 116.64.
  • PPM 207.35 transactions per second, Failed 0, Concurrency 85.59.
1000 Concurrent threads in 10 seconds
  • FPM 109,88 transactions per second, Failed 1759, Concurrency 187.49.
  • PPM 214.91 transactions per second, Failed 0,  Concurrency 302.39.
PPM is able to handle a lot of concurrency connections coming in spike to the server  in a better way than PHP FPM.
For watching the Meetup visit the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POI0IwyqULo Stay up to date on all virtual meetups here  https://cakephp.org/pages/meetups      

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