VanDUG April 2017 Meeting

No more performance anxiety encore!

At our April 2017 meeting Renée Stephen gave the Vancouver Drupal User Group (VanDUG) an encore of her Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit (PNWDS) presentation: No more performance anxiety! The presentation walked us through the formal process of server load testing.

Renée's current gig as Technical Consultant at Acquia gives has given her lots of experience on the subject and she knows how to present. It's always a pleasure when someone deeply steeped in domain knowledge gives a great presentation.

I can't begin to summarize the entire presentation. Renée's slide-deck is available for download at the presentation description on the PNWDS website: No more performance anxiety: get your Drupal site tuned and ready to take the stage! Direct PDF link: PNWDS 2017 - No more performance anxiety.pdf

Here are the take-aways that surprised me:

  • The standard definition of load testing is backend server oriented and does not include front-end performance issues. For example, large hero images or JavaScript widget rendering. While these are important they are not part of this discipline and usually require different tool sets.
  • You'll want at least 2 days, possibly more, to familiarize yourself with jMeter.

I was also reminded of how much server and tool knowledge is required if you're the one doing the remediation. No single detail is exceedingly complicated but each technology in the stack has its particulars, tools, and metics.

Here are the tools Renée mentioned in her presentation:

Profiling Toolkit

  • Blazemeter Recorder
  • Postman
  • HAR
  • jMeter

Dynamic & Static Analysis

  • Blazemeter / jMeter
  • Apachebench (ab)
  • New Relic / TraceView / XHProf
  • WebPage Test
  • Chrome Inspector
  • Server logs and stats
  • varnishstat / varnishlog
  • Redis monitor / memcached-tool
  • Drupal Devel module WebProfiler

She also made a repo of her jMeter example files available at

A big thank you to Renée for presenting. I missed the presentation at PNWDS and was happy for the second change to see it.