Checking PHP script performance with Xdebug

Xdebug [] is a useful tool to debug PHP scripts. An interesting feature is the script profiling.

If the option is enabled, Xdebug will be able to trace and save information (time, details) about all the functions/methods called in the script (CLI or Apache).

The aim of the profiling is mainly recognizing bottlenecks or simply what parts of the code that are slow.

In order to analyze the log file created, use KCacheGrind or WinCacheGrind (see screenshots below).

Setup and docs at [].

Configuration for Wamp (PHP 5.3)

xdebug.profiler_enable = 1


cache grid php profiling

Profiling MySQL

To analyze the db server usage in a complex PHP application, the first step is to profile the db server.
There are lots of tools to profile, but I think it’s very easy to make a customized code to save the data really needed.
The idea is save information about some queries in the production environment (about 1% of the queries is usually enough, depending on the traffic).

MySQL profiling
Hoping there is a class used to manage queries (or at least mysqli class), it doesn’t take long to replace a function that manages the queries with something similar to the following code (written in a simple way to show the idea):

class DB extends mysqli {
function query ($q) {

$start = microtime(1);
$wtime = microtime(1) - $start;
#save 1% of the queries + info
if ( rand(0,100)<1>query("INSERT DELAYED INTO `ProfileData` (q,wtime,created,...) ($q,$wtime, NOW(), ...) ");


What other info to save ? some ideas:

  • client IP
  • other $_SERVER info: user-agent, request_method, etc…
  • PHP backtrace (to understand which line launched the query)
  • web server load
  • mysql server load

How to analyze results making queries on the `ProfileData` table.
example: queries grouping by query and showing the average time of the queries. In this way, you can find what queries are the slowest ones.

-- select the slowest queries (average time) in the last 24 h
-- exclusion of the queries executed only once to exclude missing sql cache
SELECT `q`,AVG(`wtime) as "medium time", COUNT(`id`) as "occurences"
FROM `ProfileData`
HAVING COUNT(`id`) > 2

Simple effective PHP debugging + backtracking

During PHP debugging I often need to debug complex data. Is not always possibile to use Xdebug and the IDE debugging features with MVC frameworks, and also some arrays/object are too big and unhandy for FirePHP.

A valid solution might be a traditional “print_r”/”var_dump” + “exit”
Two problems:
1) accidental commits to the staging/production environment.
2) it takes time to understand where they are placed in the code, also because of the “exit”.

Make a function to debug that
1) use a (external) constant (define) that define what is the environment and return without debugging and exiting if the environment is not the localhost one.
2) print the backtrace to easily find and remove the “breakpoints”


function pd($var, $useVarDump=false, $exit=true){

if (IS_PRODUCTION_ENV) return;
echo '<pre>';
if ($useVarDump) var_dump($var); else print_r($var);
echo "nnBACKTRACE:";
print_r(array_slice( debug_backtrace(false),1) ;
echo '</pre>';
if ($exit) exit;


MySQL dump importing

Today I realized that “mysqlimport” is not working as expected on Wamp environment.
A working way to import a sql/dump file is to use the “mysql” executable

mysql –u root -p –user=root –force [DBNAME] < [FILE.SQL]

PHP 5.3

I’ve just read this pdf from I.A.’s blog about PHP 5.3 performances.
My comments:

What I really consider good is the performance increasing (5/10%) that include a smarter behaviour with require/inclusion, smaller binary size and better stack performance.

– Namespaces.
Late static binding. It was the only big lack of the PHP OO.
– Closures: useful to write a clearer code. I’ve tested their performances (*) and it seems there are no decreasing using them, that’s cool.
(*) array_map(function ($n){return($n * $n * $n);}, array(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)); #
– “goto”: its utility (especially in a OO language!) doesn’t make any sense to me. Very bad code readability with it.
– MySQLInd sounds interesting to have better performances with MySQL but I don’t think make sense to replace for so small performance increasing and maybe worse reliability. Client side query cache, written for PHP (not C/C++), performance statistics for bottle-neck analysis [read here]
– Hundreds of bug fixing and improvements, including Directory iterator and date functions => well done PHP community !