Blesta 3.0: Efficiency

May 18, 2012 | Posted by Cody

As lead developer, my primary focus has been on designing an efficient system. Since our primary data store (where we make the most reads/writes) is the database, naturally this is where the smallest change can have the biggest impact. I’ve already discussed a number of changes we’ve made to the database system including switching to InnoDB and the use of PDO. The last is the use of unbuffered queries.

Buffered Queries

Buffered queries fetch (e.g. buffer) all records into memory from the database server and automatically close the cursor, allowing other queries to be executed. You might take this for granted. For example, you may have something like:

// What looks like 'nested' queries...
$statment = mysql_query($sql);
while ($data = mysql_fetch_assoc($statment)) {
    $statment2 = mysql_query($sql2);
    while ($data2 = mysql_fetch_assoc($statment2)) {

This might be all fine and dandy, but assume that the first query finds 1,000,000 rows. If each row contained just 1 KB of data, that’s 976 MB of memory consumed! Keep in mind that the memory is consumed at mysql_query(), so it doesn’t matter how many rows you actually fetch (using mysql_fetch_*). Moreover, the memory isn’t freed until the program terminates or you explicitly invoke mysql_free_result().

Unbuffered Queries

Unbuffered queries, on the other hand, are not buffered into memory. Each row remains on the database server until fetched. This can drastically reduce memory consumption on the web server.

The only downside is that you can’t create what look like “nested” queries (as in my example above). But that really isn’t a downside at all, because it forces you to look at better methods for fetching or querying data. Like limiting your result set and fetching all results.

The Record component in Blesta, in conjunction with PDO, make unbuffered query support almost seamless. You really only need to be concerned about closing the cursorif you’re explicitly working with PDOStatement objects.

// Manually work with the statement...
$users = array();
$user_stmt = $this->Record->select()->from("users")->getStatement();
foreach ($user_stmt as $user) {
    $users[] = $user;
// Or just let the Record component to handle it all...
$users = $this->Record->select()->from("users")->fetchAll();

While the benefit of unbuffered queries may not be entirely evident on small data sets, there’s no doubting it improves efficiency. And that’s what creating an enterprise-level application is all about.