The long overdue "Shootout" update

It's been several months since I've had a chance to update The Great Web Framework Shootout, but this weekend I decided that it was time to dig in and freshen things up a bit.

Not only have most of the frameworks seen new releases since the last revision, but I finally decided to move all of the tests over to Amazon's "release" version of the Ubuntu LTS AMI.

Below is a quick summary of what's new in this revision:

  • All tests were performed on the updated Ubuntu LTS AMI (ami-fbbf7892 ubuntu-images-us/ubuntu-lucid-10.04-amd64-server-20110719.manifest.xml)
  • The updated AMI was configured with Python 2.6.5, PHP 5.3.2, Ruby 1.9.2p290, Apache 2.2.14 (default config), mod_wsgi 2.8 (embedded mode), and mod_passenger 3.0.9
  • Rails 2.x and 3.0 were dropped from the "full stack(ish)" tests in favor of Rails 3.1.
  • CakePHP 1.2 was dropped from the PHP tests in favor of 1.3, but Symfony and Yii were added as they seem to have considerable market share.
  • CakePHP's caching engine was incorrectly configured during the last round of tests, and this has been corrected.

Circle me on Google+ to keep track of further updates, and feel free to contact me there with any questions or comments.


Python as a PHP replacement?

I recently sat down to coffee with a new acquaintance of mine who spends much of his time implementing F/OSS projects at non-profit organizations, and who had just stepped into a lead web developer position using PHP. After sharing pleasantries we began trading stories and talking about each of our "tools of the trade." When I mentioned that I used to do most of my web development in PHP, but have spent the past year or so trying to move as completely as possible to Python, his response was: "Huh, I have never really thought of Python as a PHP replacement."

Now, this guy hasn't exactly been living under a rock for the past 10 years—his resume was quite impressive and included projects in a number of different programming languages—but as you can imagine, I was rather surprised by his response and it made me wonder: Has the Python community really been that bad at promoting the strengths of Python for web development? Or, does the nirvana experienced by switching from a language like PHP to Python just make us so at peace with the world that we forget the hordes of developers still stuck with C-style syntax? Either way, it got me thinking about a few of the reasons why I decided to switch from PHP to Python; and why I not only see Python as an excellent PHP replacement, but am surprised it is such a "best-kept secret" for web development.

There are already ...


Reorganizing data with list & dict comprehensions

While writing scripts, I frequently run into the issue of needing to re-arrange sets of data into a more "process friendly" format. A common issue I encounter is needing to turn a list (array) into a dictionary (associative array) or vice versa. More often than not, I find myself needing to be able to access list elements by a key, but since they aren't setup in a dictionary I have to pull out a looping technique to reorganize the data for this to be possible.

Take the following set of data for example:

[[1, 'John Smith', 'admin'],
 [2, 'Jane Doe', 'superuser'],
 [3, 'Sam Jones', 'user']]

What we have here is a few rows of user data. In this example, the data is in a Python list (which in PHP would be an array).

In PHP, this would look something like (using print_r):

Array (
    [0] => Array (
        [0] => 1
        [1] => John Smith
        [2] => admin
    [1] => Array (
        [0] => 2
        [1] => Jane Doe
# (...etc...)

So, what if I found myself writing some code that needed to be able to access each record by its first value, which in this case would be the user_id?

Well, in PHP the easiest way to make this happen would be a good-old-fashioned foreach loop:

foreach ($row as $val) {
    $out[$val[0]] = $val;

Not very "sexy" for something I find myself having to more often than I would like, but it works nonetheless.

Now, here's where the beauty of Python kicks in. Python has a built-in feature ...


The great web technology shootout - Round 2: PHP deserves a helping hand

A lot of the information below is out of date. Please see the new framework shootout page for the latest benchmarks.

This post is the continuation of a series. Please read Round 1 first if you are just now joining.

In Round 1, PHP was looking like quite the tortoise of the group. However, if you're familiar with some of the core differences between Python & PHP, you'll know that Python has been "cheating" slightly.

Let me explain: By default, Python compiles each script into bytecode on its first execution, allowing this bottleneck to be skipped on subsequent runs. PHP, however does not perform this type of optimization by default (in the 5.x line at least), so the PHP interpreter must re-compile each file every time it is run. As you can imagine, this can give PHP (without an accelerator) a huge disadvantage when compared to languages such as Python.

With this in mind, I have decided to take Round 2 to focus solely PHP. This will hopefully provide a clear picture of the benefits of PHP bytecode caching (at least when it comes to page-views — the memory benefits are a whole other story), and give you an idea of PHP's performance with the help of an accelerator.

There are many PHP accelerators available, but I have chosen APC for use here (mostly due to its inclusion in the upcoming PHP 6 core).

What you should know about Round 2:

  1. The hardware/software platform is the same ...

The great web technology shootout - Round 1: A quick glance at the landscape

A lot of the information below is out of date. Please see the new framework shootout page for the latest benchmarks.

Recently I went on a benchmarking spree and decided to throw ApacheBench at a bunch of the different web development technology platforms I interact with on a day-to-day basis. The results were interesting enough to me that I decided I'd take a post to share them here.

Disclaimer: The following test results should be taken with a *massive* grain of salt. If you know anything about benchmarking, you will know that the slightest adjustments have the potential to change things drastically. While I have tried to perform each test as fairly and accurately as possible, it would be foolish to consider these results as scientific in any way. It should also be noted that my goal here was not to see how fast each technology performs at its most optimized configuration, but rather what a minimal out-of-the-box experience looks like.

Test platform info:

  • The hardware was an Intel Core2Quad Q9300, 2.5Ghz, 6MB Cache, 1333FSB, 2GB DDR RAM.
  • The OS was CentOS v5.3 32-bit with a standard Apache Webserver setup.
  • ApacheBench was used with only the -n and -c flags (1000 requests for the PHP frameworks, 5000 requests for everything else).
  • Each ApacheBench test was run 5-10 times, with the "optimum average" chosen as the numbers represented here.
  • The PHP tests were done using the standard Apache PHP module.
  • The mod_wsgi tests were done in daemon mode ...