High Volume Tuning PHP FPM on nginx

As the My Store Locator Plus® service continues to grow we are finding it more important than ever to fine tune our web server and PHP processes to better serve the larger data and network demands. A recent review of performance showed process timeouts happening during large data imports and side-loading; especially when the read and write endpoints hit the same server node. Here are some things we did to improve performance.

Get off faux sockets

PHP FPM is typically installed with file-based sockets. While this lessens traffic on the network hardware, most modern servers are equipped with fiber-ready network connections. These network ports and the TCP stack that interfaces with them can often handle a higher peak load of I/O requests than the file system can manage via the “pretend” sockets run through the operating system file I/O requests.

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PHP __set() Magic Method Conundrum

I am completely baffled by this one and hope one of my techie friends can help.

I’m using a PHP class with magic methods to set and get the properties of that class.    The idea is to use private properties in the class so that the PHP magic methods can take over and determine whether to update a WordPress user meta entry, blog entry, or standard option based on which proper of the class is being retrieved or stored.

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Improving wp_delete_post in WordPress Core

One of the common processes that runs in Store Locator Plus is deleting locations.    For sites with a few dozen locations the process runs smoothly.  For sites with thousands of locations but deleting one or two at a time, not a big deal.   But for sites that are deleting tens-of-thousands of locations at a time the process becomes painfully slow.   A mere 2,500 locations can take up to a full minute to be removed on a fairly decent performance server.   That’s not the type of performance I like to see from our product.

After digging into the performance of the PHP stack initial indicators point to the custom post types as the primary culprit.   It turns out that deleting a single custom post type in the WP_Posts table runs through a dozen gyrations to delete the post.  Multiple filters are called, associated taxonomies are delete, taxonomy meta is deleted.  It is a TON of extra overhead.    But even with removing records from a half-dozen tables the data queries seem out-of-control.

Removing just 9 locations generates over 190 data queries.     If there is one thing that has not changed in decades of writing software it is that data queries are costly.  They may run on solid-state drives with advanced memory caching but doing 190 data queries is still far slower than nearly any other part of the application.
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Should The WordPress PHP Version Be Updated?

WordPress LOVES backwards compatibility as can be witnessed by the minimum-allowed WordPress PHP version remaining at 5.2.4 a decade after its end-of-life date.  It  may be  one of the reasons they have continued to garner market share.  Don’t require people to do anything to improve their site and they’ll wallow in complacency.  It makes sense.  Inertia is a big thing to overcome.  If you are a business focused on writing content, selling widgets, or doing just about anything else other than managing websites, upgrading software is way at the bottom of the priority list.

This backwards compatibility is one of the reasons why WordPress continues to RECOMMEND PHP 7 for performance and security reasons but allows the minimum WordPress PHP version to remain 5.2.4 without breaking the core application.    It is the reason why so many plugins, including Store Locator Plus, continue to do some convoluted things to reach that PHP 5.2 audience and keep their potential market as big as possible.
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wp_enqueue_scripts Deep Dive

While trying to figure out why the footer-loaded scripts in Store Locator Plus are not being output on some admin page, I went deep down the rabbit hole of the WordPress wp_enqueue_scripts function.   Here are my notes from an analysis of WordPress (5.0-alpha-42191) .

wp_enqueue_scripts

/Users/lancecleveland/vagrant-local/www/wpslp/public_html/wp-includes/functions.wp-scripts.php

This is a PHP inline function.

The local $wp_scripts variable is set as a copy of the global $wp_scripts variable which is an instantiation of the WP_Scripts class.
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